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.