05 July 2011

Bruges - a little history of cultural significance

Bruges (and indeed many towns in Belgium) are home to begijnhof (dutch) or beguinage (french) established in the 12th century that were home to beguines - religious women who sought to serve God without retreating from the world. Poor and elderly beguines in an order were given a small house, generally built round a courtyard, secluded from the town by a gate.  

These were independent religious women in NW Europe, and UNESCO recognises many of the beguinage in Belgium on their World Heritage List - demonstrating the characteristics of urban planning, religious and traditional architecture. The movement declined in the 18th and 19th century and many of the beguinages changed or were demolished.

In Bruges the Ten Wijngaerde Beguinage (which is now a monastery inhabited by Benedictine nuns) is the most famous - a place for quiet reflection, white painted brick buildings built around a grass courtyard planted with trees, a small chapel and museum. 

The way in from the outside and the inside....

 The main house in the beguinage, where the grand dame lived.


heather said...

i know i said this before, but i totally mentioned this in my article too. it's awesome to see photos and get a little more history!!!

ibb said...

I visited the town nearly 20 years ago...but cannot remind about this place. Will take note...and thanks for the history tips.

Thimbleanna said...

Wow -- it looks so interesting. Sadly, we never made it to Belgium when we lived in Germany -- now I'm wishing that we'd made it for a visit.

Signe said...

It looks beautifun in Belgium!
And how fun that your parents have been traveling a lot in Norway, you'll have to come see for yourself one day :)


Bethany Hissong said...

Wow... I had no idea about this history. Thank you for always sharing such interesting facts about your trips... I have learned so much through you!