Originally built in the 14th century as a sanctuary for beguines, a community of Catholic women who lived like nuns, the Begijnhof is a secluded courtyard surrounded by some of the oldest buildings in Amsterdam. Today, single women still occupy the homes in the Begijnhof, and visitors can tour the grounds and the site’s two churches.The Basics
While the Begijnhof—one of the oldest residences in Amsterdam—is private property, visitors are welcome to roam around the courtyard and visit the chapels during opening hours. Organized tours and large groups are not allowed inside, but many Amsterdam walking tours pass by the Begijnhof gates, just steps from bustling Kalverstraat Street. You can attend daily mass at the Roman Catholic Begijnhof Chapel (Begijnhofkapel) or Sunday service at the English Reformed Church. Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- The Begijnhof is ideal for architecture and history lovers.
- Most of the the Begijnhof is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
- The Begijnhof is private property so please visit quietly and respectfully.
The Begijnhof is located in central Amsterdam near the Amsterdam Museum. From Amsterdam Centraal Station, walk for 15 minutes, or take tram 2, 11, or 12 to the Spui stop. It can be difficult to find the narrow passageway that leads into Begijnhof, so look for the small sign off of Spui square.When to Get There
The Begijnhof is open 9am to 5pm daily. Although many call the Begijnhof one of Amsterdam’s best-kept secrets, it is immensely popular and is frequently listed as one of the city’s top attractions, so it can get busy. Visit first thing in the morning for a more peaceful experience.
The Houten Huys
On the southwestern edge of the Begijnhof courtyard stands a medieval house with a wooden facade claiming to be Amsterdam’s oldest house. The Wooden House (Het Houten Huys) is one of Amsterdam’s only two wooden-front houses remaining in the city, with original construction dating back to the 1420s, according to some sources. Amsterdam once had many wooden houses, but timber construction was banned outright after several devastating fires in the 1600s.