Remember my post about Zara Home as an oasis of rest in the Kalverstraat? Well, I actually forgot that there’s a real oasis of rest in the city center of Amsterdam. I just found out about it a year ago, but now I visit it every once in a while when I feel like taking a break from the bustle of the city. I’m talking about the Begijnhof, a small medieval courtyard located within the Singel of Amsterdam.
On a the street called Spui (next to The American Book Center), there’s a big wooden door, leading to a small corridor which brings you to the courtyard. This entrance has only been here for about a century, since the Begijnhof used to be enclosed by water. It could only be reached through a bridge at the other side of it. It used to be a monastery, but after it had been renovated in 1979 they turned in into homes. This place has a long history. The exact date of foundation isn’t clear, but it’s about 1300. During two big fires (The Great Fires) in 1421 and 1452, a big part of the Begijnhof got destroyed and needed to be rebuilt. In 1578 there was a big revolution in Amsterdam, where the Protestants took the power away from the Catholics and shut down their churches (also the one in the Begijnhof). In the beginning the Catholics came together in one of the houses, later on they decided to (secretly) built another chapel to practice their faith. A lot of things changed since 1700 inside the court, for instance most of the houses were rebuilt with brick walls, but there is still one wooden house left (probably the oldest still existing house in the Netherlands).
Immediately after closing the door behind you, you can feel the peace and tranquility from this yard. You can just walk around en look at the old houses or sit down on a bench and just enjoy the silence. Each time I sit here, I always notice other people also just reading their books or drinking their coffee-to-go, preparing their selves for another day n the city.
Whenever you walk past the entrance at the Spui, just take a little peek inside, I bet you’ll enjoy it.