The Princely Béguinage Ten Wijngaerde is the only preserved béguinage (architectural complex which formerly housed beguines, lay religious women who lived in community without taking vows or retiring from the world) in Bruges. There are no more Beguines living there, but since 1927 it functions as a convent for Benedictines, founded by canon Hoornaert. In the same year the houses at the west side were also reshaped and enlarged into the Monasterium De Wijngaard, a priory of Benedictine nuns.
Already before 1240 a community of pious women settled at the domain de Wingarde (old Dutch for vineyard), in the South of the city. This name probably refers to low-lying meadows. The béguinage was founded around 1244 by Margaret of Constatinopel, after she requested permission to Walter van Marvis, bishop of Tournai, to move over the tomb chapel on the Burg of Bruges to the Wijngaard. In 1245 it was recognised as an independent parish. In 1299 it came under direct authority of king Philip the Fair and it was entitled as 'Princely Béguinage'.
The complex includes a gothic béguinage church and about thirty white painted houses dating from the late 16th, 17th and 18th century. Practically all of these are built around a central yard. The main entrance with gate can be reached via the three-arched stone bridge, the Wijngaard Bridge. In a bay the image of the holy Elizabeth of Hungary can be seen, who was the patron of many béguinages. De Wijngaard is also devoted to Saint Alexius. The entrance gate was built in 1776 by master mason Hendrik Bultynck. The first Beguine house next to the entrance is furnished as a museum and the exhibition includes paintings, 17th and 18th century furniture and lacework, among others. A second gate gives access to the Sas House, via the Sas Bridge.
Ten Wijngaerde is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Flemish Béguinages.References:
The Château des ducs de Bretagne (Castle of the Dukes of Brittany) is a large castle located in Nantes. It served as the centre of the historical province of Brittany until its separation in 1941. It was the residence of the Dukes of Brittany between the 13th and 16th centuries, subsequently becoming the Breton residence of the French Monarchy. Today the castle houses the Nantes History Museum.
The restored edifice now includes the new Nantes History Museum, installed in 32 of the castle rooms. The museum presents more than 850 objects of collection with the aid of multimedia devices. The castle and the museum try to offer a modern vision of the heritage by presenting the past, the present and the future of the city. Night-time illuminations at the castle further reinforce the revival of the site. The 500-metre round walk on the fortified ramparts provides views not just of the castle buildings and courtyards but also of the town.