the beguinage of Tongeren

Beguines were living in Tongeren even before 1239. These women, who did not want to choose between marriage and the nunnery, established a home for themselves at a walled site at the Moeren Gate. These ‘spinsters’ built an independent life for themselves in the Sint-Catharina Beguinage.
A city within the city
At its zenith in the 18th century the beguinage consisted of 300 beguines living in 100 houses. But this all changed in 1798 during the turbulent period unleashed by the French Revolution. The beguinage was expropriated and several houses and walls were integrated into the city. Today the cobblestoned streets, picturesque courtyards, beguine houses and religious buildings of Tongeren’s beguinage still exude an air of tranquillity. No wonder that this enchanting ‘miniature city within a city’ is a UNESCO world heritage site.