The "Beginhof" is literally "The House of the Beguines" who were a predominantly Low Countries, early Medieval, religious society of lay women. Although devout these women chose not to take holy orders and so weren't nuns. Instead they chose to live secular lives and many were married women. In several towns and cities the Beguines built accommodation to house their single, ageing or poorer members and so hence the origins of Breda's Beginhof.
The original site, next to the castle, is one of the oldest Beginhofs in the Netherlands with the ground being gifted to the society in 1267 by the then Lord of Breda, Henry V van Schoten. In 1270 the Bishop of Liege granted permission for the building of a church which was dedicated to St Catherine.
When the castle was expanded, along with the strengthening of the city wall, the Beguines were moved to the present site in 1535.
During the Protestant Reformation, when the Catholic clergy were forced to leave the city, the Beguines were given special dispensation to remain. As religious tolerance re-established itself in the early 19th century the order were given permission to build a new church and in 1860 to 63 the present-day buildings and courtyard were constructed.
Twentieth century secularism however saw the dwindling of novices attracted to the order and as the houses became vacant they were let to local singe women and widows. The last Beguine "sister" Cornelia Catherina Frijters died in 1990 and the Beginhof has become a heritage site with several of the houses part of the museum.
Certainly on my winter visit this was a pleasantly tranquil "oasis", and its period architecture notable. But being winter the herb garden was pretty barren - but I can imagine it's suitably aromatic when blossoming.
One of the oldest 'Begijnhofjes' in the Netherlands.
The Beguinage is an oasis of quiet right in the heart of a bustling Breda.
In 1267 the beguines acquired a little patch of land on Valkenberg, these days the park, from the Lord of Breda, is open for public.
Beguines are unmarried women who lived together within a safe secluded space. Their way of living originated from the need to withdraw from the outside world and devote themselves to God. As well as make a difference to the world. The name "Beguine"is derived from the Beige-coloured clothes they wore. They had their own church in 1836, situated at the back of the Beguinage.
The beguinage garden was turned into an herb garden with hundreds of different kinds of herbs. To give the visitors an impression of who the original occupants were, a life size beguine statue was revealed in 1970, a bronze reminder of the countless women who lived here through the ages.
A group of women who lived together and as long as they were beguines, took simple vows of chastity and obedience to their superiors but could at all times withdraw freely.
Until now the Beguinage may only be lived by women alone, this special character of the Beguinage is only kept in the Beguinage of Breda.
In the period of the reformation in Breda the beguines lost there church but were allowed to stay in Breda and this is the place where they did.
There is also a new church build just on the right as you enter the beguinage.
There is also a museum located here.
The Beguinage is the quite place where unmarried women lived together within a safe isolated space. Their way of living originates from the need to withdraw from the outside world and devote themselves to God. The name "Beguine" derives form the beige colored clothes they wore. Please keep quite while visiting the place, 'cause people still live there.
The beguinage is a court-yard, accessed through a gate, with small houses around it which were once populated by usually rich women who wished to live a religious life without having to become a nun, thus being allowed to leave and get married when the opportunity came. This is the only catholic institution in Breda that survived the religious oppression in the 17th century, although its chapel was confiscated by the protestants and became the Walloon church.
In the 19th century a new church was built, which only has room for 69 people and must be one of the smallest in the country.
The beguinage is open for visitors. Remember that people live here, so act civilized. Don't stare through the windows, things like that. The church is occassionally open for those who want to pray. If the church is closed you may still find the door open; in that case you can see the interior through a glass wall. It should be worth a look.
This was a very Cool looking Silver shining Ball and it worked great as a mirror .
I don't know the reason why it was there but it sure was fun taking pictures looking into the Ball mirror.
A very relaxing place to visit for all ages
This picture is from inside the Beguinage or Begijnhof it is very beautiful inside ,flowers every where just a nice place .This is the place where the rich religeous women would stay and life a simple life untill they got married .
They were devoted to God and their religion.
you can visite one house of the Begijnhof.
if you take pictures no flash.
the house is very small and if you want to see the "movie" of 14 minutes there are only four seats.
i found it intresting.
open tuesday - sunday (monday closed)
november - april only open on sundays and holidays
2 BRONZE ONES and this duo is in the garden of the BEGUINAGE.
This gives us an idea of how life must have been for these women: sharing the little daily trivialities......that won't have been much exciting news, although it must have been a real "GRAPEVINE".......women love talking and sharing whatever they hear......
This is (part of) the BEGUINAGE.
Let me explain a bit about BEGUINES first.
They are not nuns (I have to say "are" because here in Breda there are still some beguines living in this beguinage!) but devout virgins and widows, living together in a close-knit society.
They only had to take 2 vows (nuns more!): that of obedience and chastity and....they were not taken for live......
Here in Breda the BEGUINAGE is in the Catharinastraat and it still has some beguines who live there and a WATERSTAATKERKJE dating from the 19th Century.
This Beguinage can be found in the oldest part of Breda...
The Beguinage was founded in 1240 and such places were safe places for single women who preferred living a simple life.
Next to the Walloon church, there's a gate to the beguinage. The first thing, you'll see is a lovely little church and a nice garden surrounded by little houses. It's a lovely place. An oasis of calm...right in the heart of the city.
The beguinage was the only catholic institution that survived in Breda after the Reformation, thanks to its protection by the princes of Orange.
After the Beguines had lost their chapel (the Walloon church) to the protestants, they got a new church in 1837. It's the small building in neo-classical style in the back of the garden.
See some more pics in my travelogue.
When visiting the Begijnhof (Beguinage) you should not forget the chapel. There are two different chapels, but the one I am recommending is the one in the back of the yard. It has the most spectacular glass-in-lead windows that will shimmer a great scala of colours inside on a sunny day.
Beguinages, or in Dutch "Begijnhoven" are places for the somewhat weaker classes. In modern times they are still a part of monastry, convent or simply a church. Here now-a-days elderly people live. In early medieval times however it were the rich "virgins" that were brought here and waited in the safety of the house of God, to be wedded off. Especially the richer families used these homes for their daughters.
Walloon church, that is a church used by Wallonian and French protestants, has been the function of this building since 1590, save an interruption from 1625 until 1649, but originally this was the chapel of the adjacent beguinage, and was founded in ca. 1429. Occassionally services in the French language are held, while the church is also used for concerts.
Although it is a simple little church the WALLOON CHURCH located in the Beguinage simply radiates beauty.