The beguinage is one of the most representative architectural complexes of Bruges, a prelude to what you'll find in this magical city, an environment rooted in the Middle Ages and immersed in a sea of tranquillity. It has also been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The beguines of Bruges were women who had suffered the consequences of wars, such as the Crusades, where their husbands, brothers or children died in most cases. In this situation, in the mid-12th century, a secular congregation was created for these women. The beguines took an active and important role for the benefit of society while living isolated in these small places that acted like a village, but always characterized by an austere and quiet life.
These beguines helped the poorest of the city, as well as the sick. They also helped in handicraft work such as lace for the economic benefit of the city and for their own livelihood. They didn't have to fulfil strict vows as nuns but they dressed like them.
However, they had to fulfil the vow of chastity, they had to respectthe closing times of the beguinage and they had to obey the Beguine Superior (responsible for the beguinage).
THE HISTORY OF THE BEGUINAGE OF BRUGES
The Beguinage of Bruges was founded in 1245 by Margaret of Constantinople, Countess of Flanders. This convent acted like a small city within Bruges.
In the morning the doors of the beguinage were opened and the beguines could leave the convent, but in the evening they had to return as the doors were closed. In those caseswhere men came back from war, the beguines were free to resume their married lives.
At the beginning, the first houses of the beguinage were built with wood, but in the 18th century they were replaced by whitewashed houses with thecolour that they currently have. These houses surrounded a central courtyard where these beguines worked in many of their tasks. There was also a church where they could pray. The last beguine left the beguinage in 1927.
Since 1930 the beguinage of Bruges is inhabited by Benedictine Sisters. This place is currently a retreat centre.
THE BEGUINAGE OF BRUGES
The beguinage of Bruges or Begijnhof Ten Wijngaarde in Dutch,is one of 13 remaining beguinagesin Belgium. It has been declared by UNESO as World Heritage Site.
In this beautiful place you can see a landscaped courtyard, which is plenty of daffodils blooming in March and April. They make this beguinage even more charming.
In addition we can see the Church of Our Lady of Consolation Spermalie rebuilt in 1605 after a fire.
Another highlight is the Beguinage Museum, where you can see how these beguines lived and how these houses looked from the inside.
Learn more about the beguinage of Bruges with our tour of Bruges.
Begijnhof, 8000, Brugge.
Open daily: from 6:30 to 18:30 h.
OPENING HOURS OF THE CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF CONSOLATION OF SPERMALIE
Open daily: from 7:00 to 12:15 pm and from 15:00 to 18:00 h.
OPENING HOURS BEGUINAGE MUSEUM
Open Monday to Saturday from 9:30 am to 12 pm and from 15:00 to 18:00 h.
Open on Sunday from 10:45 to 18:00 h.
PRICE OF ADMISSION
- Free entrance.
- Beguinage Museum: 2 €.
HOW TO GET TO THE BEGUINAGE OF BRUGES
Due to the fact that Bruges is surrounded by canals and preserves its medieval style, public transport does not circulate through the old town. However, walking distances are not high and a walk around the city is very pleasant.
From Bruges train station, walk towards the Lake of Love, and northeast from the station through a road that borders the park. The train station will be then on our right. Walk around 250 m until you get to the Poertoren tower that will serve as a reference. Once there turn left. Walk around 130 m and then you will get to the beguinage.
SOME NEARBY PLACES
- Poertoren Tower (130 m).
- Halve Maan Brewery (280 m).
- Walplein square (260 m).
- Minnewater (260 m).
- Church of Our Lady (500 m).
- St. John's Hospital (500 m).
- St. Boniface's Bridge (650 m).