When we were in Bruges last month I found this place very beautiful.
A ‘Begijnhof’ or Béguinage comprises a courtyard or green surrounded by small dwellings. It is often encircled by a wall and secluded from the town proper by one or two gates. In Bruges you cross a bridge to enter the gate of the Béguinage so it feels as though it is on an island. The béguines were single women that lived communally supporting each other and doing good works, similar to nuns but allowed to marry and leave the Béguinage. The movement was started due to a surplus of women occasioned by violence, war, military and semi-military operations, which took the lives of many men.