Begijnhof

Historic Site in Breda

Delightfully calm and pretty, if a little grander than many of the better-known beguinages of Belgium and Holland, these almshouses for unmarried or widowed women (begijnen) were moved to their present location in 1535. Traditional herb gardens are surrounded by two-storey pale-brick houses, the upper stories and St Catherine's Chapel being 19th-century additions.

There are two minor museums. One of doll's houses (€3.50 including drink) sits right at the Begijnhof entrance; some visitors misunderstanding that they have to pay for the ticket to go further. Another more relevant museum at house 29 (€2, noon to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday) highlights begijn life. Its most remarkable treasure is a 17th-century arm-shaped reliquary, supposedly containing bone fragments of Spanish-born St Laurentius who was martyred in Rome in 258 AD. The labelling is all in Dutch but there's a 14-minute video in English.

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