On a visit to the Begijnhof, an enclosed former 14th-century convent, you’ll discover a surreal oasis of peace, with tiny houses and postage-stamp gardens around a well-kept courtyard.
Contained within the hof is the charming Begijnhofkapel, a "clandestine" chapel where the Beguines were forced to worship after their Gothic church was taken away by the Calvinists. Go through the dog-leg entrance to find marble columns, wooden pews, paintings and stained-glass windows commemorating the Miracle of Amsterdam.
The other church in the Begijnhof is known as the Engelse Kerk (English Church), built around 1392. It was eventually rented out to the local community of English and Scottish Presbyterian refugees, and still serves as the city's Presbyterian church. Also note the house at No. 34; it dates from around 1425, making it the oldest preserved wooden house in the country.
You can visit the Begijnhof, accessible via tram to Spui, only during the day. However, keep in mind that senior citizens live in the houses, and their privacy much be respected. The Beguinage is private property and is not a public ground, and is also a place of silence. It's requested that guests respect the silence.
Access is on Gedempte Begijnensloot, an alleyway off Spui. If the weather is nice, you could easily linger for a couple of hours here. Combine a visit here with the nearby Amsterdams Historisch Museum (Amsterdam Historical Museum).
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Duration: 11 hours 30 minutes (approx.)