The Begijnhof is an inner courtyard of Amsterdam and a quiet spot away from the city hustle and bustle. Originally a sanctuary for the "Beguines" sisterhood, today its houses are occupied by older single women.
The place can have a hidden feel about it as it's not obviously accessible - although it is widely mentioned in guidebooks and there is a flow of tourists coming through.
The main feature is the 15th century English Church (Engelse kerk) located at the south side which is one of the oldest buildings in the city. It contains stained glass depictions of the Pilgrim fathers who probably worshiped at the church before leaving for the New World.
In February 2007 a special 400th anniversary church service was held attended by Queen Elizabeth and Queen Beatrix of Netherlands.
Opposite the church there is the smaller Begijnhof chapel where Catholics and Beguines attended in secret up until 1795. The chapel is open daily at 0900 (1300 on Monday).
The picturesque courtyard contains a garden area surrounded by traditional houses built from the 16th century onwards. The Wooden House (het Houten Huis) at number 34 is the oldest house in Amsterdam dating from 1420. There are also a number of interesting plaques and statues throughout the court.
The Begijnhof is located near Spui and can be accessed from 2 sides. The south entrance is an arched door on the Spui. Alternatively you can arrive through a door from the Gedempte Beginensloot side street (eastern side reached either walking up from from Spui or coming from Kalverstraat onto Begijnensteeg).
The official Begijnhof shop selling various religious artefacts, postcards and books about the Begijnhof etc is located next to the chapel at the presbytery. Open Mon-Sat 1230-1530.
Please bear in mind that silence is requested. The Begijnhof is private property and tour groups are not officially permitted - although you will find some groups passing through.
Begijnhof Essential Info
Opening Times: Begijnhof open daily 0900-1700. The Begijnhof chapel is open 1300-1830 (Mon), 0900-1830 (Tue-Fri) and 0900-1800 (Sat-Sun). After 1700 use Spui door.
Admission: free entry
Getting There: From central station it is 10-15 minutes walk or take trams 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 14, 16 or 24 to the Spui stop.
Begijnhof (Presbytery), Nieuwezijds
Voorburgwal 373, Amsterdam
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