The Caermersklooster

The Caermersklooster complex is located in the Patershol district of Ghent. Today the historic buildings of the Patershol are home to numerous restaurants behind their traditional facades. The area’s current appearance is a phenomenon of the late 20th century, however. In the 12th century the Patershol was mainly populated by skilled craftsmen, especially ‘cordwainers’ (who specialized in the production of leather shoes). Later on, the lawyers and magistrates of the 17th century city’s patrician elite built their luxurious townhouses here. Their work required them to live close to the Gravensteen castle, which, until the 18th century, housed various legal and administrative bodies. The Patershol fell on harder times during the industrial revolution and became an area of slum housing for workers employed in the nearby textile factories. Since then Patershol has been extensively revamped and revalued, making it one of Ghent’s most stylish districts.

From cloister to culture centre  

The friary church was purchased by the City of Ghent in 1881. The municipal authorities found a variety of uses for it and at various times it served as an archeological museum, a museum of anthropology and even as a place to store opera scenery. A century later, in 1981, after the Province of East Flanders bought the rest of the friary complex, the City exchanged the church for the second quadrangle and the sacristy. In 1998 the Provincial Council opened the church to the public as an exhibition venue under its present name, the Caermersklooster Provincial Cultural Centre.

The days when Carmelite friars used to shuffle around its cloisters are long gone!