A visit to Amsterdam not only involves seeing the city and its notable attractions, but also the lesser-known areas as well. The Begijnhof is one such area in Amsterdam that is worth a visit concerning the rich historical significance of the place.
The Begijnhof is actually an enclosed courtyard where the nuns of the Catholic sisterhood lived known as the Begijntjes. The place remains cut off from the city and is thereby a great place to enjoy a little serenity as well as get acquainted with the city’s rich historical past. Many visitors in their Amsterdam tours take time to visit the Begijnhof and it has even become a major tourist attraction for many.
A Little History
The origins of the Begijnhof dates back to the 14th century and was constructed to house the women belonging to the Begijntjes, a Catholic sisterhood. These women were nuns but had more independence and did not take any vows relating to monastic life. Although this Catholic faith was abolished in the 16th century, the Begijnhof continues to exist even today, as women privately own most of these houses. However, the last Begijntjes to live here passed away in 1971.
The Begijnhof hosts numerous buildings that are truly unique structures in the whole of Amsterdam. Amsterdam’s oldest house, the Het Houten Huis, which dates back around 1420, is one such prominent attraction. It remains one of only two timber houses still in existence in Amsterdam. Previously, the houses in Amsterdam were made out of wood, which was eventually replaced by brick due to the risk of fire.
The Schuilkerk, a 17th-century hidden church, is another attraction in the Begijnhof that is located inside two neighboring houses from the English Church. The English Church dates back to the 15th century, and is another fascinating attraction in the area.
Visiting the Begijnhof
The Begijnhof is situated right in the center of the city of Amsterdam. Spuiplein is an easy way to enter Begijnhof, which is indicated by a brown house amidst an array of white houses. It is open daily and visitors can access the Begijnhof from 09:00 am to 05:00 pm. Visitors are limited to exploring the courtyard though and can only access the paths meant for tourists.
The houses are still occupied by single women and their privacy must be respected while visiting the Begijnhof. The Begijnhof is indeed a great place to know more about the city and to relax in its well-maintained garden courtyard.