Amsterdam Sights

Begijnhof (Beguinage)

an enclosed courtyard with 2 churches and charming houses dating from the early 14th century

Enclosed courtyard

The Begijnhof is an enclosed courtyard, cut off from Amsterdam's traffic noise. It was established in the 14th century as a residence for pious women who lived like nuns, although they took no monastic vows. They taught children and cared for the sick and enjoyed relative freedom.

The tranquil Begijnhof in the heart of Amsterdam is like a village square in a metropolis, but it has still retained its sanctified atmosphere. Houses in Begijnhof are still occupied by single women, so please respect their privacy and be quiet.

Het houten huys

Houten Huys

The beautiful houses overlook its well-kept green garden, include the Amsterdam's oldest surviving house Het Houten Huys dating from around 1420. On the adjoining walls, there is a fascinating collection of wall plaques with biblical theme.


The southern fringe of the square is dominated by the English Reformed Church (Engelse Kerk) which dates from the 15th century and possesses its original medieval tower.

The Begijnhof Chapel (No. 29 and 30), a clandestine church, was completed in 1680. It contains many reminders of the Catholic past.

Forbidden for men

It was forbidden for the beguines to keep dogs or roosters in their courtyard. It would be far too noisy.

Girlfriends were not allowed to stay overnight without express permission. It was strictly forbidden for boys over the age of 3, let alone adult males, to stay in the almhouses.

In the corridor of the gate building you can still see illustrations of these 'forbidden fruits' on the corbels. You see a boy running away, a rooster being chased away and a dog slinking off with its tail between its legs.


A narrow, vaulted passageway leads to this charming garden surrounded by old houses. Entrance on Spui is indicated by a carved sign, entry is free.

It could be difficult to find the gate but the moment you walk through it, you'll experience another world. Begijnhof is located right in the city center, close to Spui and and 5 minutes from Dam Square.

Nowadays Begijnhof is one of Amsterdam's top attractions.

How to get there?

tram1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 14, 16, 24, 25 - stop Spui
parkingParkKing Kalverstraat

Impressions of the Begijnhof:

The Pilgrim Fathers

Click on the above images to enlarge and to read the tablets on the English Reformed Church (left), Pilgrim Fathers (middle) and Presbyterians (right)

 click on image to enlarge map


Amsterdam (Spui)

official website

Opening hours

Begijnhof and chapel
Sun 09:00 - 17:00
Mon 09:00 - 17:00
Tue 09:00 - 17:00
Wed 09:00 - 17:00
Thu 09:00 - 17:00
Fri 09:00 - 17:00
Sat 09:00 - 17:00

Queen Beatrix and Elizabeth II attending a special ceremony at the Begijnhof on 5 February, 2007 to mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of the English Protestant Church.

nearby Attractions

Allard Pierson Museum   archaeological museum
Amsterdam Museum   700 years of history of amsterdam
Bijbels Museum   biblical museum
Civic Guard Gallery   freely accessible covered 'museum' street with group portraits
Flower Market   daily market with floating shops
Hofjes   almshouses
Kalverstraat  shopping street
Royal Palace   built as a city hall on Dam Square in 1648
Spui   cultural books square
The 9 Streets   small interesting individual shops