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The Beguinage of Antwerp

An oasis in the city, with some imagination, you go back to the 16th century, walking on the cobbled streets, enjoying the garden, the pond, and the orchard. Welcome to the Beguinage of Antwerp. Begins were devoted Catholic women who lived in a community and dedicated their lives to God. The first beguinage in Antwerp was founded in 1240, it was called 'The Garden of Zion'. It lay south of the city, far outside the city walls.

Picture by Harry Fabel

After the destruction of the 'The Garden of Zion', the Begins acquired some grounds within the city center where they rebuilt the courant beguinage in 1545. First, the houses were raised around the garden square, later an increasing number of begins added an alley.

Picture by Harry Fabel

The original church of the Beguinage was destroyed in 1799 and replaced with the present small Saint Catharina church in 1827. It is still used today.

Picture by Harry Fabel

Despite a difficult period under both the French and Dutch occupation at the end of the 18th and early 19th centuries,  the devoted women managed to keep their oasis of devotion to God. In 1986, the last Antwerp began, 'Virginie Laeremans' died.

Picture by Harry Fabel

Today the Begijnhof has a residential function, mostly for students. However, the original character and peace of the beguinage have been preserved.

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