The Saint Elisabeth Béguinage (Begijnhof) from 1238 is a combination of a béguinage square and street and was added to UNESCO World Heritage List in 1998. The Kortrijk béguinage was surrounded by the castle of the Counts of Flanders, the city walls and the St. Martin's Church Cemetery and is situated between the Church of Our Lady and the St. Martin's Church. The Kortrijk béguinage has been destroyed several times and its current form dates back to the 17th century. It comprises forty small Baroque houses each with an enclosed front garden.
The house with the double stepped-gable (1649) belonged to the 'Grand Dame'. The remarkable stair turret is the corner tower of the former St. Anna hall from 1682. In the Sint-Annaroom you will find the new experience centre. Her you will be immersed in many centuries of history in a remarkably dynamic manner. The béguinage also includes three chapels, including the Gothic Saint Matthew Chapel from 1464 that was transformed into the Baroque style in the 18th century. House number 41, near the entrance to the béguinage, will be converted into a house museum.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).