Ghent Cathedral to be completely renovated

Ghent's Saint Bavo Cathedral is to be thoroughly renovated. The operation will take four years to complete and during this time Ghent Cathedral will disappear behind scaffolding.

Saint Bavo Cathedral is probably best known for the Ghent Altarpiece, a masterwork by the Van Eyck brothers depicting the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.

Architect Ignace Roelens: "Urgent renovation is needed on the cathedral spire. Masonry was falling down. To avoid worse, a thorough renovation is needed".

The work will cost 6.3 million euros - two million more than originally budgeted.

The present cathedral was built upon a Romanesque church dating from the 12th century. This Romanesque church was replaced in various stages and most of today's cathedral was erected during the 15th and 16th centuries. Later Renaissance elements were added.

A mystery still surrounds the Ghent Altarpiece. One of the side panels, the Just Judges, was stolen in the 1930's and has never been recovered. The whereabouts of the missing panel - sometimes suggested to be in the cathedral itself - has been the subject of intense speculation.