Bruges’ Beguinage (Begijnhof) or “Ter Weyngaerde" is one of the most famous and best preserved of Belgium’s Beguinages, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the town’s most-visited attractions, it offers a glimpse into the European Beguine movement of the Middle Ages.
Most Bruges city tours include a stop at the Beguinage, and it’s a striking sight with its stark white buildings fronted by tall trees and looking out over a daffodil-filled courtyard. Visitors can wander around the historic buildings and gardens, explore the traditional crafts workshops, and peek inside the 13th-century church. The Beguinage Museum is also a highlight, providing insight into the Beguinage and the solitude of the Beguine lifestyle. Visit independently, ask part of a group walking tour, or even on a day trip from Paris.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Entrance to the Beguinage is free, but there is an entrance fee for the Beguinage Museum.
- Wear comfortable shoes if you plan on walking to the Beguinage—the area around the Beguinage is made up of flat cobblestones and narrow waterfront lanes.
- The Beguinage is mostly wheelchair accessible, although some parts of the historic buildings are not.
How to Get There
The Beguinage is located just south of the historic center of Bruges, an around 15-minute walk from the main market square. The easiest way to get there is on foot or by bike, but taxis will also drop you off just outside.
When to Get There
The Beguinage is open year-round, but it can get busy in the summer months of July and August, when it’s best to visit in the early morning to avoid crowds.
History of the Beguinage
Bruges’ Beguinage is one of the most notable examples of a traditional Flemish beguinage, a secluded complex of houses, churches, and gardens set up to house Beguines—pious lay women who devoted their lives to God. Countess Johanna of Constantinople founded the Beguinage in Bruges in 1230. Until 1926, it housed a small community of Beguines. Today, the compound is home to around 25 Benedictine nuns, but remnants of its Beguine past still live on.