The medieval core of Bruges was not designed to house green areas. However, a fortunate reconstruction of the main canal surrounding the historical center, along with some small added zones, allow the tourist and the resident to have take a break of the agglomerations that take place in high season.
The beguinage or begijnhof (in Dutch) were areas where the beguines lived, a Christian religious order that was created in the 11th century and disappeared in 2013 with the death of the last one. They acted as nuns of charity, serving those most in need altruistically, but their rules were looser than those of other Christian institutions (for example, they could leave the order at any time if they wished to marry), so since their origin maintained tensions with the central institutions.
They exist in many Belgian cities and in The Netherlands, being the most important of the country the one in Bruges. It is an approximately rectangular esplanade in the south zone of the historical center, near the canal. All buildings (approximately 30) are white painted brick with tile roofs. The central courtyard is covered with lawns and trees that have curiously grown all crooked in the same direction. It is one of the favorite recreational areas of residents.
The main entrance is the north one. Since Benedictine monks live here today, the entrance is closed at night.
It is one of the favorite places for couples since according to local legend, from a folklore story of the romance of Minna and Stromberg, if you cross the bridge with your partner, you will get eternal love. And if not, this small park south of Beguinage and in contact with the main canal and this called Minnewater (Lake of Love, used in its origins to control the water level of the other canals) provides excellent views of it and of the towers of the historic center.
THE CIRCULAR MAIN CANAL
With the exception of a small area in the north-west, the whole historic center is surrounded by a canal, which in its inner zone presents a long circular park.
Many of the buildings near it are architecturally beautiful. Sashuis is the main one, lock building that controlled the water level until 1970. Walking around the center through the park we will find the old gates of the city walls. In the Northeast there are three mills, very similar and well preserved, Bonne Chiere, Sint Janshuis and Koelewei.