My Favourite History Place: The Beguinage at Bruges

Historian feature

By Richard Stone, published 8th July 2020

The Beguinage at Bruges

Richard Stone introduces us to a quiet neighbourhood in Bruges which has played its part in the development of women’s independence. 

Close to the Minnewaterpark, on the fringe of the bustling historic centre of Bruges, with its medieval buildings and atmospheric cobbled streets, the Beguinage is a tranquil haven. Cross the three-arched Wijngaard Bridge, spanning one of Bruges’ many canals, and step through the gatehouse of 1776, designed by master mason Hendrik Bultynk, with a statue of St Elizabeth of Hungary in a niche above, and you enter another world. A central grass square punctuated by tall poplar trees is surrounded by simple whitewashed houses, forming an enclave with a rectangular church on one side. The church is a plain, characteristically Flemish-Brabantine brick Gothic structure (1605), replacing an original destroyed by fire in the 1580s. Some Baroque features were added during an interior makeover around a century later...

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