Prepare to enter a world of yesteryear as you cross over a tiny bridge, through a gatehouse dating back to 1776 - leaving behind the paved roads and clatter of horses on the cobbled streets of modern-day Belgium, and entering the peaceful and expansive lawns planted with poplars, surrounded by groups of historic homes.
Unique Dutch living from the past
The Princely Beguinage of the Vineyard was founded in 1245 and is one of the best preserved of its kind. The Beguines represented a movement of single or widowed women seeking to live in a pious way, outside the walls of a convent or monastery. See how this stoic community of women followed the example set by the apostles of poverty, simplicity and preaching. It's important to note that community members were very committed to the lifestyle of the Beguine, even though not a single member was bound against their own will and was free to break their vows and leave the community at any time. Peek into a lifestyle lived over several centuries, across northern Belgium and Dutch cities where Beguinages flourished. The beguines led an industrious life, initially earning their income with looms. Although no official vows were taken, Beguine members kept to a strict regime under a mistress who closely guarded the independence of the establishment.
Nearly 800 years of history
Learn more about the church that was originally built on this land in the year 1245. Although the first church was destroyed by fire in 1584, a Gothic church was built in its place in the year 1605. It was decided that the church would be given a Baroque facelift around the year 1700. Learn more about St. Elisabeth of Hungary frequently visiting several Beguinages, leading to this site being dedicated to her. The Béguinages demonstrated outstanding physical characteristics of urban and rural planning, and a combination of religious and traditional architecture, in styles specific to the Flemish cultural region. The Beguine movement is at present extinct, however most of the Béguinages continue to be sought after as havens of peace and a lifestyle that blends a culture of community and private living. No complete construction of Beguinage structures remain from the Middle Ages - with the exception of a few churches. The earliest Beguine houses were replaced by municipal ordinance, with brick and stone buildings, in the 16th and 17th centuries respectively. In the 18th century, the number of Beguines declined, and the houses were eventually demolished. However, there are several new houses built the 19th and 20th centuries, for visitors to explore.