Netherlands, Noord Holland, Amsterdam, the Begijnhof Courtyard. (Photo by: Eye Ubiquitous/UIG via Getty Images)

UIG via Getty Images


Top choice in Medieval Centre & Red Light District

Dating from the early 14th century, this enclosed former convent is a peaceful haven, with tiny houses and postage-stamp gardens around a well-kept courtyard off Gedempte Begijnensloot. Within the hof (courtyard) is the charming 1671 Begijnhof Kapel, and the Engelse Kerk, built around 1392.

Also here is the Houten Huis, the Netherlands' oldest preserved wooden house, dating from around 1465. There’s another entrance to the Begijnhof near this structure: look for a wooden door on the Spui’s north side, east of the American Book Center.

The Beguines, a Catholic order of unmarried or widowed women who cared for the elderly, lived a religious life without taking monastic vows. The last Beguine died in 1971.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Medieval Centre & Red Light District attractions

1. Engelse Kerk

0.02 MILES

One of two churches located in the Begijnhof, the Engelse Kerk was built around 1392. It was eventually rented out to the local community of English and…

2. Begijnhof Kapel

0.02 MILES

Contained within the Begijnhof and dating from 1671, this is a 'clandestine' chapel where the Beguines were forced to worship after the Calvinists took…

3. Houten Huis

0.03 MILES

Located in the Begijnhof, the Houten Huis dates from around 1465, making it the oldest preserved wooden house in the Netherlands.

4. Amsterdam Museum

0.05 MILES

Entrepreneurship, free thinking, citizenship and creativity are the four cornerstones of the multimedia DNA exhibit at this riveting museum, which splits…

5. Spui

0.06 MILES

Inviting cafés (pubs) and high-brow bookshops ring the Spui, a favoured haunt of academics, students and journalists. On Friday (weather permitting) a…

6. Fashion for Good

0.08 MILES

The world’s first sustainable fashion museum delves into the history of fashion, the latest industry technology and innovation, and the stories behind day…

7. Civic Guard Gallery

0.08 MILES

Part of the Amsterdam Museum – consider it the free ‘teaser' – this gallery fills a laneway next to the museum’s entrance. It displays 15 grand posed…

8. University Library

0.12 MILES

Today's library is a concrete hulk, not nearly the beautiful building you'd expect at such a historical site, but its background is fascinating. Citizen…