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The Begijnhof in Pictures

Peek into Amsterdam's Secluded Enclave of Historic Townhouses

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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.

Images 1-8 of 8
School Group in Front of the BegijnhofGable Stone of St. UrsulaFirst Impression of the BegijnhofMaas's Statue of Jesus on the Main Lawn
Interior of the RK Begijnhof KapelEnglish Reformed ChurchHet Houten Huys – The Wooden HouseStatue of a Beguine
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