It is one of the most extraordinary places in Amsterdam: the Begijnhof (Beguinage). Read more to discover how and when you can visit this medieval place.
One of the most extraordinary places in the center of Amsterdam can be found behind a door on Spuiplein. It leads to the Begijnhof (Beguinage), a medieval inner courtyard where the women of the Catholic sisterhood lived.
- Discover one of the oldest residences in Amsterdam.
- Visit a special chapel hidden behind the facades of residential buildings.
- Please note that the houses are private property and visitors must comply with a number of rules.
Brief history of the Begijnhof
It is unclear when exactly, but the Beguinage was established somewhere in the 14th century to house the Begijnen. These women lived like nuns but were more independent and had more freedom. The Catholic faith was banned in the 16th century. The Begijnhof was the only Catholic institution that continued to exist because the houses were the private property of the women. They did have to give up the chapel. A new, so-called ‘hidden church’ was later built behind the facades of several residences. You can still visit it today.
Cornelia Arens was the most famous Beguine who lived here. She wanted to be buried not in church but in the gutter. Despite her wishes, she was buried in the church. The next morning her casket was no longer in the church but rather in the gutter, as she had wished. This reoccurred several times until it was decided to make her last resting place in the gutter.
The last Beguine passed away in 1971. The houses off the courtyard are still residences but there are no more Beguines here.
The Houten Huys
When you walk into the Begijnhof, you will see the Houten Huys (timber house) built in 1528 to your right. It is one of only two remaining timber houses in Amsterdam. Originally all homes in Amsterdam were made from wood but at one point brick became the mandatory building material due to the risk of fire. It is still a residence.
How do I find the Begijnhof?
The Begijnhof is located in the center of Amsterdam. The easiest way to get there is via Spuiplein. You will see a row of white houses with a brown house in between. This is where you will find the gate that gives onto the Begijnhof.
Rules and opening hours
The Begijnhof is open daily from 9:00 to 17:00. You can also visit the chapel during these opening hours. On the Begijnhof you have access to the paths indicated for tourists only. The other paths are blocked by little fences. The residents do not appreciate their homes being photographed.
Near the Begijnhof
After you visit the Begijnhof, you can easily walk to the Amsterdam Museum. This is where you will learn about Amsterdam’s history. Nearby is Dam Square where you can visit Madam Tussauds and Ripley’s Believe it or Not.
Hotels near the Begijnhof
You can spend the night in beautiful hotels in the historic center of Amsterdam. The nearby W Amsterdam has a rooftop pool and rooms with a trendy modern interior. Do you prefer a classical hotel? The Hotel Estherea comes highly recommended by visitors who reviewed it with a score of 9.1.