Explore a different destination UNESCO World Heritage Site Flemish Béguinages, Belgium

The Flemish Béguinages are a cloistered community in Belgium. Also known as Begijnhof in Dutch, the Béguinages was founded in the 13th century by Roman Catholic women who have dedicated their lives to serving God, without retiring from the world. Their living quarters, including their abodes, churches, work buildings and open spaces have been carefully preserved, and are now recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site during the 22th session of the World Heritage Committee meeting in Kyoto, Japan on 30 November to 5 December, 1991.

The outstanding physical characteristics of the Béguinages architecture that is specific to the Flemish cultural region was one of the justifications for placing the Flemish Béguinages on the World Heritage List. Additionally, the béguinages showcase the cultural tradition of independent religious women in that part of Europe during the Middle Ages, and that the béguinages stand as an outstanding example of buildings that exhibit both secular and conventual values.

Photos of Flemish Béguinages

Beguinage in Antwerp
Beguinage in Antwerp
Author: frank wouters (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Beguinage in Diest
Beguinage in Diest
Author: Athenchen (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Entrance to Beguinage in Oudenaarde
Entrance to Beguinage in Oudenaarde
Author: LimoWreck (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

What to See in Flemish Béguinages

You can visit Béguinages in many of the towns in Belgium including Antwerp, Bruges, Dendermonde, Diest, Ghent, Hasselt, Hoogstraten, Lier, Leuven, Mechelen, Kortrijk, Sint-Truiden, Turnhout and Tongeren. These Béguinages came about because of a surplus of unmarried women during the Middle Ages - men died off from all forms of violence related to wars. These women banded, also called béguinages, together and created dwellings for themselves, often through the help from rich benefactors.

The Béguinages community comprises a courtyard surrounded by abodes. For protection, it is often surrounded by a wall, and separated from the rest of the town by a gate or two.

World Heritage Site Inscription Details

Location: N 51 1 51.5 E 4 28 25.5
Inscription Year: 1998
Type of Site: Cultural
Inscription Criteria: II, III, IV

Location Map

Map below is only approximate, as there are many Béguinages all over Belgium.

View Flemish Beguinages, Belgium in a larger map

Visiting Flemish Béguinages

Your base for visiting this World Heritage Site is the city of Brussels. Find your accommodation from a selection of hotels in Brussels. Then you can make your arrangements to visit the Béguinages, either on your own, or through a travel agent in Brussels. As listed above, there are Béguinages in many Belgian towns, you take your pick.

Book Hotel Rooms in Belgium and Worldwide

Click here also for a full list of hotels in Belgium or hotels worldwide. If you prefer budget accommodation in hostels, guesthouses or inns, check out hostels worldwide for budget accommodation providers with online booking.

Local Tours of Belgium

Here are some local tours of Belgium that you may want to include to your itinerary. They save you time and cost of doing it yourself. These tours are arranged by Viator, one of the most reputable tour agencies in the market.

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