Belgian architecture : introducing the ‘Begijnhofstijl’

/Belgian architecture : introducing the ‘Begijnhofstijl’

Belgian architecture : introducing the ‘Begijnhofstijl’

 

Since a number of years we do see evolve in the Belgian architecture a new style which is inspired by the architecture of the Flemish beguinages.

So today I would like to introduce you to the ‘Begijnhofstijl‘.

First you do have to know something more about a Begijnhof (Dutch) or Beguinage (English) and its residents.

A beguinage or begijnhof is a collection of small buildings used by beguines. A beguinage comprises a courtyard surrounded by small dwellings. It is often encircled by a wall and secluded from the town proper by one or two gates.Poor and elderly beguines were housed here by benefactors.

The first beguinages were set up in the 12th century.

No country has more beguinages than Belgium.

The Flemish Beguinages have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998.

For those of you who don’t know, the Beguines were various lay sisterhoods of the Roman Catholic Church, founded in the 13th century in the Low Countries (Belgium, The Netherlands), comprising religious women who sought to serve God without retiring from the world.  Their success was attributed due to a surplus of women after their men died in local wars. Great number of women had no option but to unite and collectively secure aid of rich benefactors. A common misconception is that beguines are nuns’, which is not true.

Unlike sisterhoods that required a life spent apart from society under vows of chastity, these Catholic women looked for holiness outside monastic norms. Although they lived and prayed together within an enclave, partly as a form of mutual protection — some historians believe they banded together after losing their men to the Crusades, which left behind mainly criminals and louts — beguines were not confined to the cloister. Many ministered to the poor and sick outside their walls. Lifelong celibacy was not required either. They could leave the order and marry (but not return). The beguinages were experiments in communal living that worked successfully for centuries. But as the options for many European women multiplied after the 18th century, within the Catholic Church and beyond, the numbers of beguines rapidly declined. Belgium, which once had 94 beguinages, had only 20 in 1856; the members of the sisterhood fell by more than half between 1631 and 1828. Today, the order has only one surviving member, the 91-year-old Sister Marcella (Beguinage of Kortrijk) who lives in a Belgian rest home.

 

I posted pictures of some of the Belgian beguinages and in between I have shown you images of new build houses, inspired by the beguinage architectural style.

 

Beguinage of Bruges

13Beguinage Bruges  Source : Eigendom van www.op-reis.com & www.arakea.com : Alle rechten voorbehouden

 

13New build Belgian house  Source : De Landheer

 

14Beguinage Bruges  Source : Eigendom van www.op-reis.com & www.arakea.com : Alle rechten voorbehouden

 

8New build Belgian house  Source Vlassak Verhulst Villas

 

15Beguinage Bruges  Source : Eigendom van www.op-reis.com & www.arakea.com : Alle rechten voorbehouden

 

20New build Belgian house Source Rik Storms

 

16Beguinage Bruges  Source : Eigendom van www.op-reis.com & www.arakea.com : Alle rechten voorbehouden

 

8Beguinage Bruges  Source Wikipedia

 

Beguinage of Kortrijk

As I went to high school in Kortrijk, I loved to walk around in the beguinage of Kortrijk.

27Beguinage Kortrijk  Source : http://www.virtualtourist.com

 

7Beguinage Kortrijk  Source : Wikipedia

 

21Beguinage Kortrijk Source : http://kortrijk.wordpress.com

 

10New build Belgian house  Source : Compagnie Het Zoute

 

26Beguinage Kortrijk Source : http://www.eltribel.be

 

28Beguinage Kortrijk Source : http://www.flickr.com

 

Beguinage of Diksmuide

34Beguinage Diksmuide  Source : Wikipedia

 

6New build Belgian house Source Vlassak Verhulst Villas

 

31Beguinage Diksmuide Source : unknown

 

19New build Belgian house  Source : Timeless Living

 

Beguinage of Oudenaarde

23Beguinage Oudenaarde  Source : unknown

 

24Beguinage Oudenaarde Source : Wikipedia

 

Beguinage of Antwerp

29Beguinage Antwerp  Source : http://www.flickr.com

 

30Beguinage Antwerp Source : unknown

 

Beguinage of Hoogstraten

33Beguinage Hoogstraten  Source : http://www.wandelingvanhetjaar.be/?portfolio=digitale-stadswandeling-hoogstraten

 

6Beguinage Hoogstraten  Source : Wikipedia

 

2New build Belgian house  Source : Huysman

 

Beguinage of Aarschot

10Beguinage Aarschot  Source : unknown

 

11New build Belgian house   Source here

 

5Beguinage Aarschot  Source : Wikipedia

 

Beguinage of Diest

32Beguinage Diest  Source : http://www.panoramio.com

 

15New build Belgian house  Source : here

 

4Beguinage Diest  Source : Wikipedia

 

17Beguinage Diest  Source : Wikipedia

 

Beguinage of Leuven

12Beguinage Leuven  Source : Wikipedia

 

9New build Belgian house  Source : Vlassak Verhulst Villas

 

16 New build Belgian house Source : Timeless Living

 

2Beguinage Leuven Source : Wikipedia

 

3Beguinage Leuven Source : Wikipedia

 

14New build Belgian house Source : Thierry Lejeune

 

36Beguinage Leuven Source : Wikipedia

 

18New build Belgian house  Source Rik Storms

 

35Beguinage Leuven Source : Wikipedia

 

1New build Belgian house  Source : De Landheer

 

Do you love the Belgian ‘Begijnhof’ style? I would love to hear your thoughts about it!

xx

Greet

By |2018-07-11T10:56:13+00:00July 9th, 2012|Categories: Belgian Pearls|Tags: , , |40 Comments

40 Comments

  1. Fleaing France & French Shopping Monday, July 9, 2012 at 4:33 PM - Reply

    Oh what a beautiful learning experience you have provided. I loved every single minute of reading and am going to go back and go through it again this evening. Thank you for teaching something with such beautiful images!

  2. Loi Thai, Tone on Tone Monday, July 9, 2012 at 5:07 PM - Reply

    Hello, Greet –
    An absolutely beautiful, informative and educational post! I love this: a bit of history and lots of wonderful architecture. Thank you for introducing us to the Belgian Begijnhof style. Maybe we will even see some of those amazing buildings on our next visit as we drive from Brussels to Gent to Brugge.
    Cheers,
    Loi

  3. billie Monday, July 9, 2012 at 6:02 PM - Reply

    Yes, Greet, I love the style. Never knew anything about this history, but so interesting. Will have to reread and definitely to visit. The Begijinhof style is so reflected in today's Belgian style (which I love). Yours is a posting to be filed away. Thanks for being so instructive and enjoyable.
    b

  4. desde my ventana Monday, July 9, 2012 at 6:12 PM - Reply

    Hello Greet,
    So so interesting post !!! I love every image, every corner…and wishig to travel to and to enjoy this wonderful architecture.
    Thank you

    Hugs

    Cecilia

  5. Tricia Rose Monday, July 9, 2012 at 6:37 PM - Reply

    I loved the Beguinage in Bruges from the moment I first laid eyes on it (despite a creepy wax crucifix!), interiors and exteriors, and read everything I could about the Beguines. Unfortunately that only made me sad and cross that they were suppressed! Next time I come to Belgium I'll be delighted to visit the other begijnhofs you have shown me, thank you!

  6. Het lijstje van brocante Monday, July 9, 2012 at 6:50 PM - Reply

    Prachtig Greet…..we hebber er al verschillende gezien…Gent….Brugge….Antwerpen….allemaal even mooi….het heeft iets!!!!
    Erg leuke post waar ik van geniet.
    Met lieve groetjes,
    Silvia

  7. Passione Helena Monday, July 9, 2012 at 7:08 PM - Reply

    Prachtige beelden Greet, en of ik er van houd. Ik zou willen dat ik hier dagelijks rond zou kunnen dwalen. Helaas is deze stijl (waar ik woon) ver te zoeken. Vorig jaar hebben we het Begijnhof in Brugge bezocht, we zijn een stukje geschiedenis rijker en hebben er enorm genoten. En nu mag ik van deze mooie post genieten, dankjewel daarvoor!

    Fijne avond nog,

    Lieve groet, Helena

  8. Henhurst Interiors Monday, July 9, 2012 at 8:08 PM - Reply

    Hi Greet,

    Thank you for the introduction; I was not familiar with the term 'Begijnhof' or history of these communities. The buildings are so beautiful it is easy to understand why the architectural style would be reproduced today.

    Have a good week!
    Phyllis

  9. Castles Crowns and Cottages Monday, July 9, 2012 at 8:13 PM - Reply

    I LOVE THIS STYLE. In fact, many years ago, when I was trying to identify the style that I always admired but didn't know the source, I had thought it was the French style. Mind you, I LOVE THE FRENCH country lifestyle and villa and the homes in Normandy. But now that I see this, I KNOW that these are the styles of homes that I fell in love with reading fairy tales! LOVELY COLLECTION MY DEAR GREET!!! Anita

  10. Segreto Secrets Monday, July 9, 2012 at 9:42 PM - Reply

    So beautiful!!!! It almost feels like a fairy tale land, just perfect! Loved seeing a bit of where you grew up!! Take care!! xo Leslie

  11. Tara Dillard Monday, July 9, 2012 at 11:04 PM - Reply

    Spent several days in Belgium ca. 1976. Dad was working with the European partners of the Space Shuttle payload avionics system.

    You have no idea how I would have loved to tour these.

    Cannot imagine the impact these women had.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  12. The enchanted home Monday, July 9, 2012 at 11:37 PM - Reply

    Hi Greet, thanks for the intro! What beautiful pictures, the dark framed windows on the light exterior is so pretty…..it all looks so picture perfect but steeped in history too, absolutely gorgeous!

  13. michele Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 12:22 AM - Reply

    oh greet, i am smitten with the story of the beguines and these dwellings. i want to know more. i must see them in person i think because there is so much more to learn! thank you for highlighting such architecture and history i might otherwise miss!

    stop by if you have a moment as i just posted a giveaway:
    http://hellolovelyinc.blogspot.com/2012/07/summer-sale-giveaway.html

    smiles to you.

    michele

  14. Acquired Objects Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 12:38 AM - Reply

    I have to tell you I absolutely love the old Beguinage Bruges. The new build is stunning but there's something about the Beguinage being built as small dwellings rather then one big. I like the older architecture better. I had never heard of these buildings before so I'm glad you introduced them to us.

    XX
    Debra~

  15. carolyn bradford Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 1:30 AM - Reply

    I'm so glad I'm seeing this! I plan on studying it in depth! Just wanted you to know the pictures are incredible and the history behind it sounds amazing! I will be researching it tomorrow…after this storm leaves and our power quits flickering on and off! Thanks for sharing this!

  16. 5th and State Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 2:57 AM - Reply

    hello dear greet

    you have taken my breath away. i loved the history and the architecture, what brave and brilliant women they were.
    even the current architecture, in many cases, needed a second look. their authenticity is stunning. oh how i adore your country
    xo
    debra

  17. Pamela RG Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 3:37 AM - Reply

    Very interesting! I learnt something new. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Vivienne Ghyoot Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 5:24 AM - Reply

    I have been fortunate in visiting most of the Beguinages you listed. I have always loved the tranquility they exude, but above all, I love the Flemish architecture. Am pleased that the style is being so sensitively recreated in new builds. We know the Beguinages of Kortrijk well, as this is my husband's home town. Even stayed in a wonderful B&B there, unfortunately now closed. We met sister Marcella a few years back when she was still living there! Running a B&B within the walls of the Beguinages is an excellent idea, as people are exposed to the architecture and particular ambiance of each Beguinages, and they are all well placed in the centre of the cities! Great article Greet…

  19. Kleurrijk Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 2:27 PM - Reply

    Ik vind het schitterend. Het geeft rust. Het geeft zo'n goed gevoel. In Nederland, waar ik woon, wandel ik graag door begijnhofjes.

  20. Thoughts on Design Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 2:49 PM - Reply

    Thank you for introducing me to this beautify style of architecture and it's heritage. You must be proud knowing it is so beautifully preserved. The new homes are all done with great respect and reverence. A real tribute the the home owners, architects and builders. A wonderful article!

    Cheers,
    john

  21. L'Elégante Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 3:00 PM - Reply

    Oui, j'aime ce style de maisons, chère Greet. L'esprit qui régnait dans ces communautés doit encore demeurer. La beauté de l'ensemble et la sérénité qui s'en dégage donnent envie d'y vivre.
    Comme je suis à la recherche d'une maison, je suis sensible à l'architecture. Celles-ci me conviendraient parfaitement si j'en avais les moyens financiers. Pour le plaisir des yeux. Merci de ce très beau post. Amitiés de Fine.

  22. Faith Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 3:45 PM - Reply

    Thank you for a very interesting post!

  23. peggy braswell Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 5:22 PM - Reply

    How I adore learning new & interesting things. Thanks xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

  24. dawn Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 7:09 PM - Reply

    oh, to have gone to high school in a town that had any part look like these photos would be heavenly…so beautiful, peaceful and calm in feel. what a great history lesson you provided. i am part dutch and had no idea about this. so lovely…thanks!

  25. Patty Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 7:11 PM - Reply

    Thank you for such an informative article, Greet, rich in pictures and history. Glad to know I'm not the only one who had never heard of these treasures. I absolutely love the style, and want to plan a trip now to see these structures. Are the buildings currently used as residences, shops, or museums?

  26. IrisoftheWayfarer Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 9:50 PM - Reply

    To answer your question, Greet, I love it. I miss it. I am from northern Europe and miss the architecture, the quaint way of life. I love seeing both the originals and the new builts.

    Wonderful blog.

  27. designchic Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 10:17 PM - Reply

    I love the introduction to this beautiful style of architecture – would love seeing these gorgeous buildings in person!

  28. Anonymous Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 6:50 AM - Reply

    This post is stunning, Greet. Every picture a lesson in history and architecture. I have visited Belgium several times and have had the privilege of seeing several of these locations. You helped bring back some wonderful memories. I think the introduction of the new architectural style which incorporates so much history and adheres to the heart and soul of the style is a wonderful opportunity for keeping harmony and connection to the past.

  29. Teddee Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 3:05 PM - Reply

    Is the architecture as charming inside as out? Having just moved into a "senior housing" high rise in Boulder, Colorado, USA, that is totally without architectural character, these seem all the more attractive.

  30. pretty pink tulips Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 5:42 PM - Reply

    I absolutely love the architecture…and had no idea that it even existed. I think it's time to start planning a return to Belgium. I was there, oh so briefly, in my twenties before I had even owned a home of my own. How our perspective changes as we age!

    Hope all is well in your beautiful corner of the world!
    xo Elizabeth

  31. Renée Finberg Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 10:24 PM - Reply

    i am in love!!!
    i need to see it and touch it in person….
    well…
    another place on my list to visit.

    xox gorgeous post!

  32. Liz Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 1:49 PM - Reply

    I am smitten with Belgium…I think I could live there..

  33. Pat Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 4:49 PM - Reply

    Thank you for the history lesson. Charming buildings and I love the women power behind them.

  34. cindy Friday, July 13, 2012 at 1:41 PM - Reply

    Fascinating, thank you for this interesting and thorough post with beautiful architecture!

  35. liza Friday, July 13, 2012 at 6:59 PM - Reply

    My goodness! The ancient ones are simply gorgeous! What a fascinating story of the orders, too. I had never heard of them or their dwellings before. Some of the new builds are lovely too and will be even more so with time. Thank you for a great post!

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