As fun as it is searching for hidden gems can sometimes be exhausting so when I heard about Begijnhof, a hidden gem in Amsterdam that’s an oasis of calm, I couldn’t wait to check it out. Located in the heart of Amsterdam, just off the busy shopping street of Kalverstraat, Beginjhof is also accessible by a wooden door leading off from the Spui square (it took me a while to find it but it’s obvious if you know what you’re looking for).
One of Amsterdam’s oldest courtyards, Beginjhof is also home to one of the only two remaining wooden houses in Amsterdam Begijnhof 34, built in 1645, which is also Amsterdam’s oldest house. Founded in 1307, Begijnhof is a showcase for Dutch architecture. This hidden gem isn’t huge, and there isn’t a great deal to see there but for me it’s a hidden gem because it’s a great place to chill out away from the crowds in Amsterdam on a sunny day.
I also really like the idea behind Begijnhof, it provides housing for older single women and widows who are less fortunate who live in the houses today. This is a legacy from the 14th century when the Beguines, a group of unmarried or widowed women, who lived a monastic life but never took nuns vows lived in the Begijnhof. They were given free lodgings in return for educating the poor.
Inside the Begijnhof there is also a chapel which you can go inside and see and across the courtyard is the old Gothic Engelse Kerk (English Church) which was taken over by Protestants on 1578.
The biblical plaques on one of the walls in the Begijnhof are also well worth a look.also holds the striking Begijnhof chapel, which was the clandestine place of worship for the Beguines after they were forced to surrender their Gothic Church to the Calvinists, another religious order. Even if you’re not into architecture, or churches, Amsterdam’s hidden courtyard is still a great place to reflect.