Its funny how you forget famous sites - I was walking along the street and saw people coming and going through an ordinary wooden door (see photo 1) and went through myself and kicked myself for forgetting it was the Begijnhof. Despite many visits to Amsterdam I had never been before and what a place I had missed! Tranquil despite a busy street outside this is a sheltered housing scheme for about 105 women who rent flats in beautifully restored traditional Dutch buildings. There are two greens within the complex and a church called the English Church ( see my tip on this) and a small advice centre. There are 47 houses here and all of them differ to the others and within the 47 houses are 140 flats comprising of 2 or 3 rooms. You are only allowed to walk to the edge of the far green so that the vast majority of the residents are not affected by the many tourists who visit this interesting and tranquil city spot.
"Houten Huys" (wooden house),at No.34 is the oldest wooden house in Holland and dates from 1470.
The Beguinage and its chapel are open every day from 9.00 - 17.00 via the gateway Gedempte Begijnensloot. After 17.00 you can reach the chapel via the gate at the Spui
Find this beautiful courtyard hidden behind closed doors, a former convent dating back to 14th century. At no 34 there is the oldest preserved wooden house in Holland dating back to 1465.
The Beguines were a Catholic order of unmarried women from wealthy families who cared for the elderly. They lived a religious lifestyle without taking monastic vows.
The last true Beguines died in 1970's. Because they owned their houses they could not be taken away after the Calvanist coup.
Nowdays it is still homes for single women - but this is not a pick up site Boys check out RLD for that :-)
Open 9am - 6.30pm and opens 1pm Mondays
The Begijnhof was a convent occupied by the Begijntjes, a female Catholic religious order, for hundreds of years until the last Begijntje died in the early 1970s. The Begijnhof is now a residential neighborhood, which is an amazingly quiet oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam. The Begijnhof features a central lawn surrounded by the old houses in which the Begijntjes used to live. The Begijnhof features two churches. The largest is the Engelske Kerk, which the Begijntjes were forced to turn over to the Presbyterians during the reformation, and still serves the expatriot British Presbyterian community of Amsterdam. The Beginhof's other church is the Begijnhof Chapel, a clandestine church which is hidden within a group of the houses on the western side of the Begijnhof. The Begijnhof Chapel is open to tourists, while the Engelske Kerk is only open for church services.
What's a beguinage?
Beguinages were isolated parts of town were only women (beguines) lived in tiny houses. They also worked and prayed together within this community. They could join or leave as they wished, since there was no obligation of vows like in monasteries. The only vow was chastity.
The Begijnhof is an enclosed courtyard dating from the early 14th century. Hidden behind the busy Spui and Kalverstraat shopping strip, it's a surreal oasis of peace, with tiny houses grouped around a well-kept courtyard. The Begijnhof was formerly a convent inhabited by the Beguines, a Catholic order of unmarried or widowed women from wealthy families who cared for the elderly and lived a religious life without taking monastic vows.
The Begijnhof is a lovely little enclosed green with nice gabled houses all around. It was originally built in the 1300's for a Catholic sisterhood of women who lived similarly to nuns. All of the houses have beautiful little gardens of flowers out front. I was quite amazed to learn that this spot is low-income housing for single women now.
There's also a little English Church in here, where the Pilgrims may have worshipped on their way to America, as well as a secret chapel where Catholics used to worship before religious tolerance was reinstated.
This is a series of old brick and stone gabled houses built hundreds of years ago. They used to be a sort of convent/almhouse. They were a residential sanctuary for unmarried women of good repute as put by my travel guide. Today, the inner courtyards are visited by many. The floral arrangements within are very pleasing and it seems that the inhabitants compete against each other for horticultural elaboratoin. To be honest, they do a great job!
The Beguinage is private possession and is not a public ground. It is also a place of silence. Guests are required to respect this silence. Therefore the Beguinage is closed for groups and excursions.
Is a secluded court of almshouses with a quiet innergarden and the English Reformed Church in their midst. Dating from the 14th century, the Begijnhof used to house devout lay-women who did religious work for the adjacent nunnery, mostly in education and nursing. Most of the houses were renovated during the 17th and 18th century and only one of the original medieval wooden houses remains. In these houses only live women
Es un grupo aislado de casas de beneficencia con un tranquilo jardín interior una pequeña iglesia y en cuyas casas solo viven mujeres. El Begijnhof que data del siglo XIV fue utilizado para albergar a devotos laicos-mujeres que hicieron obra religiosa para el convento adyacente, sobre todo en la educación y la enfermería. La mayoría de las casas fueron renovadas entre los siglos 17 y 18 y sigue siendo sólo una de las originales casas la de madera que es considerada la casa mas vieja de Amsterdam.
This is a great place to stop for a rest in the middle of a busy sightseeing day....This is a place put aside for older women to live out their lives in peace, dating from the 14th century---there are women living here, so treat it with respect and quiet, but enjoy this green area right off the Spui Square.
There are other Hofs throughout Amsterdam to discover as well....
The present "Engelse Kerk" dates from the end of the 14th century, replacing the Begijnhof Chapel from 1307. In 1417 the construction of a new chapel was started at the location of the present building. The great Amsterdam city fires of 1421 and 1452 damaged the Chapel that was rebuild in brick. The present building was finished in 1492 with most of the tower still originating from 1417.
At the time of the Reformation in Amsterdam in 1578 all the religious establishments were closed. The Church was used as a washing places for clothes. in 1607 the Amsterdam "Burgomasters" gave the disused church to the English-speaking Presbyterians for their use and Sunday services.
The church was enlarged with a southern aisle in the 1670's. A major restorations took place in 1912 and 1976. The oldest fittings in the church consist of a 17th century pulpit, on which is found a brass lectern donated to the congregation in 1689 by King William and Queen Mary Stuart, and an organ casing in Rococo style from 1753.
Su: Worship in English language at 10:30AM
Mo: 11AM - 4PM
Tu: 10.30AM - 3PM
We: Worship in Dutch language at 0.30PM (Alle-Dag Kerk)
Th: 11AM - 4PM
Fr: 1PM - 5PM
Sa: 11AM - 2.30PM
Free admission; gifts are welcome.
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