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The Beguine convent of Courtrai, in Belgium : a village in the city

The Beguine convent of Courtrai, in Belgium : a village in the city

One of the treasures of architectural heritage in Courtrai, in Belgium, the Beguine convent constitutes a little village in the heart of the city.

The Beguine convent of Courtrai, in Belgium : a village in the city

Summary

Located 10 km from the French border, the Belgian city of Courtrai boasts around forty 17th century whitewashed houses, tucked into the paved alleys of its historic centre. It is an architectural ensemble called a Beguinage, so named because of the establishment of an autonomous community of religious, the order of the Beguines, in buildings constructed around a courtyard.

Courtrai, a Beguinage in the city centre

In the heart of the city, this district, classed among the UNESCO World Heritage sites, has become a tourist attraction. At a calm stroll, you can visit the Chapel of Saint Matthew and the Chapel of the Counts, an interactive museum which explains the site, the Artillery Tower, and a water-tower conserved as a vestige of the medieval fortifications, as well as the Churches of Our Lady and of Saint Martin.

Courtrai Beguinage houses - Belgium
The « Begijnhof » is a pedestrianised zone much sought-after for its sovereign calm. © DR
Courtrai Beguinage turret - Belgium
Most of the houses in these picturesque alleys have whitewashed their facades to protect them from bad weather. © DR

Heritage and religious tourism

Given the level of interest, guided tours are springing up to help contemplate the works of art at the site, like the Crucifixion of Antoine Van Dijck, a carillon bell dating from the 19th century and the mausoleum of Count Lodewijk Van Male. A captivating site which will make you want to discover the charms of other Belgian Beguinages, in Liege, Tournai, Mons and Namur, without forgetting those in the Netherlands...

Courtrai Beguinage alleys - Belgium
Owning a townhouse in the Beguinage is the reserve of a privileged few... © DR
Courtrai Broel Towers - Belgium
Finish your day’s journey with a visit to the Broel Towers, reflected in the waters of the River Lys. © DR

A city break in Courtrai, the « Belgistorical » city

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