Founded in 1234 by Countess Joanna of Constantinople, the Small Beguinage is the best preserved of Gent's three beguinages, which housed Beguines, women who lived lives of prayer but did not take vows and were therefore not nuns. Protected by a wall and portal, the small surrounding homes with individual yards were built in the 17th and 18th centuries, but are organized in medieval style. Each house has a statue of a saint and a spacious lawn. You can walk quietly through the main building and peek into the stone chapel—the houses, however, are off-limits. Although entry is free, a gate closes to keep out nonresidents from 10 pm to 6:30 am. The last Beguine died in 2013, at the age of 92.
Lange Violettestraat 77–273, Gent, B9000, Belgium