The Béguinage - UNESCO

In Bruges there sits a quaint, walled neighbourhood with a surprising history that has followed its inhabitants to the current day: The Beguinage,  recognised as a World Heritage site in 1998.

The ‘Princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde’ as it is known locally is a fine area in which tall, A-frame houses with bright white painted exteriors stand in lines around the square and convent garden in which its trees reach high over the nearby houses and flowers in bloom in each season. Visitors to Beijnghof can explore its winding cobblestone streets and marvel at its Gothic and Baroque facades. The Grand Place is one of Beijinghof Bruge’s main attractions and consists of medieval buildings that have been exquisitely restored over time. The Town Hall houses numerous collections including paintings by renowned artists such as Rubens and Jordaens.

The small area was founded in 1245. It was originally home to the lay-women of the catholic church that led celibate livlihoods. Today, in line with its past, the area is still home to many of these women, but also the residence of several nuns under St. Benedict. 

A beguinage is a unique type of housing for women in Europe and the Americas. It’s a self-contained community that combines spiritual, social, and economic support for its members. The word “beguine” was first used to describe these communities in the Low Countries during the Middle Ages.

Beguinages were originally founded as places where single women could live independently without having to conform to convent rules or marry against their will. These communities provided religious instruction, educational opportunities, and sometimes manual labor such as spinning fibers into thread or weaving cloth. In addition, many beguinages had their own chapels or churches dedicated to serving the spiritual needs of their inhabitants. Despite being independent of religious orders, beguines still held strong beliefs in charity and faith-based activities such as prayer groups and bible study sessions.

One can easily spend the better half of an afternoon exploring this picturesque neighbourhood and its surroundings!

Read what others share about their experience

  • Lena Choi
    9 months ago
    Very peaceful and quiet place. I felt calm and humble while walking inside this little village. Also...
  • Anthony Chan
    4 months ago
    Heritage site because this ised to be the lodgings of single women who worked their careers instead...
  • Laurentiu Ovidiu Calin
    2 months ago
    A wonderful place, quiet, peace, daffodils and swans...
  • Karnsiree Chai
    a week ago
    Mysterious, peaceful and wonderful place. What a unique place and people still live in the houses as...
  • Joep Nieuwdorp
    3 months ago
    A must-see in Brugge. Quaint, restful and above all, beautiful oasis in the city's old center....

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