Architectural, Cultural sights in Bruges
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Surrounded by protective walls, these whitewashed cottages - clustered around a central garden carpeted by daffodils in springtime - have an air of tranquil purity. Established as homes for a Catholic order of single and widowed women, there were around 1500 of these begijnhoven (or beguinages) in Belgium in the early 20th century, but only 22 remain. Dating from the 13th century, this is one of the best preserved, and home today to Benedictine nuns. The tiny on-site 't Begijnhuisje museum gives you an insight into a typical cottage. Afterwards, prolong the serenity with a stroll in the swan-filled Minnewater park nearby.
Occupying a stately 18th-century patrician house formerly owned by the Arents family, the Arentshuis divides into two. The ground floor is reserved for temporary exhibitions while upstairs is given over to the powerful paintings and etchings of Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956), a Bruges-born artist of British parentage. Industrial themes are his strong point, and the exhibition is well worth visiting if you're into sombre paintings of dockyards and the like.