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 & : Alle rechten voorbehouden


13New build Belgian house  Source : De Landheer


14Beguinage Bruges  Source : Eigendom van & : Alle rechten voorbehouden


8New build Belgian house  Source Vlassak Verhulst Villas


15Beguinage Bruges  Source : Eigendom van & : Alle rechten voorbehouden


20New build Belgian house Source Rik Storms


16Beguinage Bruges  Source : Eigendom van & : 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 :


7Beguinage Kortrijk  Source : Wikipedia


21Beguinage Kortrijk Source :


10New build Belgian house  Source : Compagnie Het Zoute


26Beguinage Kortrijk Source :


28Beguinage Kortrijk Source :


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 :


30Beguinage Antwerp Source : unknown


Beguinage of Hoogstraten

33Beguinage Hoogstraten  Source :


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 :


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!



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