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The Begijnhof (Beguine Court) is an enclosed courtyard in Amsterdam dating from the early 14th century. It includes several interesting religious sites and provides an serene oasis just a block from the screeching of trams stopping next to the bustling Spui square.

The Begijnhof consists of tiny houses grouped around a well-kept courtyard. It was originally built in the 14th century as a convent for the Begijntes (Beguines), a lay Catholic order of unmarried or widowed women – of which there were many as a result of the Crusades' efficiency in killing off men – who lived a religious life without taking monastic vows.
One resident, Cornelia Arens, so loved this spot that she asked to be buried in the gutter here in 1654. She lies under the slab of red granite on the walkway on the left side of De Engelse Kerk. The last true Beguine to live here died in the 1970s.
No. 34 is the oldest house in Amsterdam, dating from 1465. It is one of only two remaining wooden houses in the city center. After a series of disastrous fires, laws were passed in the 15th century forbidding the construction of buildings made entirely of timber.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the capital and largest city of the Netherlands, located in the province of North Holland in the west of the country. The city, which had a population of 747,290 on 1 January 2008, comprises the northern part of the Randstad, the 6th-largest metropolitan area in Europe, with a population of around 6.7 million.
Its name is derived from Amstel dam,indicative of the city's origin: a dam in the river Amstel where the Dam Square is today. Settled as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age, a result of its innovative developments in trade. During that time, the city was the leading centre for finance and diamonds. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city expanded and many new neighbourhoods and suburbs were formed.
The city is the financial and cultural capital of the Netherlands. Many large Dutch institutions have their headquarters there, and 7 of the world's top 500 companies, including Philips and ING, are based in the city. The Amsterdam Stock Exchange, part of Euronext, is located in the city centre. Amsterdam's main attractions, including its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House, its red-light district and its many cannabis coffee shops, draw 4.2 million tourists annually.
(Source: Amsterdam info & sacred-destinations.com & wikipedia)

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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