Aula Academica

The Aula Academica is a typical monument for Ghent University. The building exudes grandeur and tradition, ideal for ceremonies and celebrations. The Ghent University logo is even designed after this building. Read more about its history.

On 9 October 1817, the 'State University of Ghent' opens its doors for the very first time. The city council decides that the university needs a 'palace' for ceremonies and protocol on the site of the former Jesuit Church.

The design was left in the care of the young and promising architect Louis Roelandt. A child of classicism, Roelandt took his inspiration from historical building styles combined with serviceable architecture. Later, he went on to design several timeless buildings in the city centre, such as the Opera, the Palace of Justice and St. Anne’s Church.

On 3 October 1826, the Aula is inaugurated officially.

Would you like to organise an activity in the Aula? You can rent the Aula as an event location.

Look inside 360°


Somewhat hidden between the adjacent buildings and quite remote from the student area, the location of the Aula may seem a little odd nowadays. Before the start of the 20th century, however, the academic life took place mainly around the Voldersstraat.

In 1959, the Rectorate moved out, and took the beating heart of academic life with it, first to the Blandijnberg, later to Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat, where it still is to this day.

Aula AcademicaLegendary pillars

The facade of the Aula is quite stunning. The temple with Corinthian pillars and a triangular fronton pays homage to the Enlightenment and the Greek Pantheon. On the frieze, the Latin inscription reminds us the building project was ordered by William I of the Netherlands.

Over the years, the bluestone pillars of the Aula became a true icon. In 1988, Ghent University decided to incorporate them into their official logo:

Logo UGent: evolutie

Aula Academica: PeristiliumPeristyle

Moving past the facade, you enter a vast entrance hall: the peristyle. A copper meridian line spanning 21 metres, runs over the checkered marble floor. A ray of sunlight penetrates through a small circular opening in the ceiling - the oculus.

From March until October, the projection of the light crossing the meridian line reveals the ‘true noon’. This was designed as a basis for the time tables of the Belgian railroads. In 1840, however, the introduction of standardised railway time made it obsolete.

Aula Academica: koepelAmphitheatre

The heart of the Aula is the spherical hall of ceremonies, designed as a stage with amphitheatre and girdled by a gallery with lodges. Every flower in the coffered ceiling is unique!

Aula Academica: trompettenCeremonies

Grandeur. The word fits the building and its appearance perfectly. The Aula breathes tradition and respect. It is filled with busts and symbols. In the foyer, you will find the portraits of all the rectors.

On the opening day of the new academic year, a procession of lecturers dressed in robes traverses the city centre towards the opening ceremony in the Aula.

Also, Dies Natalis, the anniversary of the Ghent University, with the awarding of honorary doctorates is hosted here. This degree has been bestowed on prominent persons such as: Kofi Annan, Desmond Tutu, Dirk Frimout, Jacques Rogge, Jan Hoet and Angela Merkel...

Specially wrapped

At several times throughout her lifespan, the Aula received an artistic make-over. The Aula symbolises the zenith of academic life and reason, making it a popular backdrop for the work of artists.

Aula Academica: zuilen van ham2000: Pillars of Ham

For the exhibition Over The Edges, artist Jan Fabre wraps the pillars of the Aula in 600kgs of smoked ham, giving them a marble look.

Aula Academica: Lichtfestival 20122012: Ghent Light Festival

During the Ghent Light Festival in the city centre, the Dutch animation team Mr Beam gives the Aula a colourful and frivolous make-over.

Aula Academica: Nest 20152015: Nest

Visual artist Benjamin Verdonck installs Nest on the facade of the Aula during the climate course Tipping Point, to raise awareness of the climate summit in Paris.

Aula Academica: 200 jaar UGent2017: 200 years Ghent University

In 2017, Ghent University celebrates its 200th birthday. For the occasion, the Aula is decorated with swings, balloons and window drawings.

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