Just past the threshold of the Begijnhof lies another world from the urban bustle of Amsterdam. Here, from at least the 14th century, a lay Catholic sisterhood lived and worshiped within the walls of this secluded inner court, also known as a béguinage. Similar communities of such women popped up all over the Low Countries, northeastern France and northwestern Germany as a less strict alternative to nunneries from the 12th century on.
The historic inner court and its townhouses were able to withstand the vicissitudes of history around it -- even the Protestant Reformation, when it was the only Catholic institution allowed to remain -- and is now one of the only two béguinages left in the Netherlands; the other is in Breda, a city of 175,000 in North Brabant, a southern Dutch province. The Begijnhof's monumental architecture is free for visitors to admire, and deserves a place on any Amsterdam itinerary.
The Begijnhof is open daily, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Its two entrances are accessible via the Gedempte Begijnensloot, off Kalverstraat, and the northern side of Het Spui.
|School Group in Front of the Begijnhof||Gable Stone of St. Ursula||First Impression of the Begijnhof||Maas's Statue of Jesus on the Main Lawn|
|Interior of the RK Begijnhof Kapel||English Reformed Church||Het Houten Huys – The Wooden House||Statue of a Beguine|
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