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Residence of a Christian medieval community

The beguinage, which officially bears the name "Princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde", was founded in the 13th century. It was not until 1930 that the last Bruges beguine, who had dedicated herself to apostolic poverty according to the rules of her order, died. Since 1937, the picturesque estate on Minnewater has been inhabited and managed by Benedictine nuns. Although the convent is still in operation, the beguinage museum and the traditional convent garden can be visited daily. Visiting the beguinage is free of charge.

Garden idyll through the seasons

The Belgian addition to the name "zum Weingarten" (Ten Wijngaarde) suggests that the courtyard, like many of the buildings you encounter on a walk through Bruges, could be overgrown with wild vines. Especially in autumn, the typical wine-red coloring contributes to the picturesque face of Bruges. In fact, the garden of the beguinage is characterized more by the sight of more than 60 poplars in front of whitewashed brick houses. In spring, daffodils provide a yellow carpet of color in the picturesque courtyard.

The history of the beguinage

When the courtyard was founded, the (female) Beguines and (male) Begards were part of a religious movement that turned away from the secular values of the Christian church. Unlike in the rest of Europe, the beguines in Flanders were neither persecuted nor punished by the church and were able to build up an independent life in beguinages in several towns. In medieval society, the beguinages developed into places of refuge for unmarried women and widows who found a (new) purpose in life in the religious community. The beguinages were less strict in their interpretation of clerical laws than monasteries. For example, beguines renounced their vows and could leave the court at any time and resume a secular life.

Tourist significance of the beguinage

The Begijnhof is the ideal place to take a short break during a tour of Bruges. Surrounded by idyllic green houses, you can relax and unwind. A visit to the Beguine Museum in the "Begijnhuisje" provides interesting insights into the fascinating way of life of the Beguines, who today are regarded as role models for a self-determined way of life. Feminism also often cites the beguines as the first representatives of a progressive women's movement. You can see for yourself in the museum whether this is realistic.