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 Beckov castle stands on a steep 50 m tall rock in the village Beckov. The dominance of the rock and impression of invincibility it gaves, challenged our ancestors to make use of these assets. The result is a remarkable harmony between the natural setting and architecture.
The castle first mentioned in 1200 was originally owned by the King and later, at the end of the 13th century it fell in hands of Matúš Èák. Its owners alternated - at the end of the 14th century the family of Stibor of Stiborice bought it.
The next owners, the Bánffys who adapted the Gothic castle to the Renaissance residence, improved its fortifications preventing the Turks from conquering it at the end of the 16th century. When Bánffys died out, the castle was owned by several noble families. It fell in decay after fire in 1729.
The history of the castle is the subject of different legends. One of them narrates the origin of the name of castle derived from that of jester Becko for whom the Duke Stibor had the castle built.
Another legend has it that the lord of the castle had his servant thrown down from the rock because he protected his child from the lords favourite dog. Before his death, the servant pronounced a curse saying that they would meet in a year and days time, and indeed precisely after that time the lord was bitten by a snake and fell down to the same abyss.
The well-conserved ruins of the castle, now the National Cultural Monument, are frequently visited by tourists, above all in July when the castle festival takes place. The former Ambro curia situated below the castle now shelters the exhibition of the local history.