The Begijnhof: An Oasis of Peace in Buzzing Amsterdam
In the center of buzzing Amsterdam there's an oasis of peace that dates back to 1150, when a group of Catholic women banded together in a religious community. You won’t have to stand in line to visit this top Amsterdam attraction as you do for popular tourist spots like Anne Frank’s house and the Van Gogh Museum. That's because the Begijnhof is a little known place of tranquility in the center of a buzzing city. More than nine centuries after its beginnings, it retains its sanctified atmosphere and reputation as one of Amsterdam’s most beautiful yet least known attractions.
The Begijnhof’s history encompasses the Miracle of Amsterdam and a few other scientifically inexplicable events that happened along the way. The women in the sisterhood were called Begijnen. Without taking monastic vows, they lived like nuns, cared for the sick and educated the poor using the Begijnhof as their sanctuary. Although it's private property, visitors are welcome in the serene inner courtyard that's bordered by typical Amsterdam-style houses.
Today the peaceful oasis is still occupied by single women. While no longer a beguinage in the strict sense of the word, it’s a site for daily masses, as well as weekend weddings and baptisms. Priests are available for confession and personal talks. A shop accessed via the chapel sells post cards, candles and religious books.
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Amsterdam's Hidden Cloister
Right in the middle of the popular and noisy Spui student neighborhood lies an oasis of calm. The Begijnhof is a hidden inner courtyard that was once a cloister for nuns. Open to the public between 8:00am and 5:00pm, pop in to see the original buildings of this historic neighborhood.