Welcome to the 'Ten Wijngaerde' beguinage. - The Béguines were women who dedicated their lives to God without retiring from the world. In the 13th century they founded the béguinages, enclosed communities designed to meet their spiritual and material needs. They were 'religious women', widows or spinsters who wished to live an independent but committed life outside the recognised orders with their vows of fidelity and poverty. They organized themselves in self-supported 'cities of peace', revealing architectural and urban qualities. To this day, this Bruges béguinage, with its central courtyard lined with trees and side streets, retains a religious and social function. The brick architecture, the harmonious environment and the rather closed nature of this béguinage all contribute to the charm for which it is famed worldwide. Below are pictures of its entrance and courtyard.