In the 12th century women in the Netherlands wanted to live a more religious life, without entering a nunnery. They lived together in little houses gathered around a church and often did a lot of charity work. Although they followed certain rules, these woman could marry or leave if they wanted to. Later these women were called Begijnen (Beguines). In Amsterdam the Beguines lived together in the Begijnhof since the middle of the 14th century.
The Begijnhof has been altered since the first beginnings of course, especially in the last century renovations and restaurations have been made. The last Begijn died in here 1971. People still live in these houses, but they do not have to follow rules anymore like being chaste.
Due to the many tourist who visit here they had to implent some rules. The Begijnhof is only open for visitors during the day and most of the Begijnhof is off limits.