Brugge Travel Guide

Brugge Sights

Begijnhof

  • off Wijngaardstraat Map It
  • Brugge
  • House/Mansion/Villa

Published 09/09/2015

Fodor's Review

This 13th-century béguinage consists of a pretty and serene cluster of small whitewashed houses, a pigeon tower, and a church surrounding a pleasant green at the edge of a canal. The Begijnhof was founded in 1245 by Margaret, Countess of Constantinople, to bring together the beguines—girls and widows from all social backgrounds who devoted themselves to charitable work but who were not bound by religious vows. In a time when options for women were get married, become a nun, or be ostracized as a spinster, these places offered another way. Led by a superintendent known as the Grand Mistress, the congregation here flourished for 600 years. The last of Bruges's beguines died about 50 years ago; today the site is occupied by the Benedictine nuns, who still wear the beguine habit. You may join them, discreetly, for vespers in their small church of St. Elizabeth. Although most of the present-day houses are from the 16th and 17th centuries, they have maintained the architectural style of the houses that preceded them. One house (No. 1) has been set aside as a small museum. Visitors are asked to respect the order's vow of silence. The horse-and-carriage rides around the town have a 10-minute stop outside the béguinage—long enough for a quick look round.

Sight Information

Address:

Oude Begijnhof, off Wijngaardstraat, Brugge, Flanders, B8000, Belgium

Map It

Phone:

050-330–011

Sight Details:

  • Free, No. 1 house visit €2

Published 09/09/2015

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