When you think of the capital city, you probably don’t immediately think about hidden courtyards, also known as hofjes. However, there are a couple of these historic hofjes in Amsterdam that you should definitely visit.
Imagine wandering through the charming streets of Amsterdam, stumbling upon hidden oases that tell stories of past centuries. Hidden away from the busy streets, you discover hofjes — quiet, picturesque courtyards steeped in history and purpose.
These little gems have been a hallmark of Amsterdam’s history, offering a glimpse into the past. In this article, I’ll explain where to find these hofjes and why you should visit them.
Let’s dive into the history and present of these unique hofjes and where to find them.
The most beautiful hofjes in Amsterdam
These charming hofjes, age-old courtyards are filled with timeless beauty and rich history. Especially history lovers, curious wanderers and people looking for a serene escape, should visit the following hofjes.
The most known and most visited courtyard is The Begijnhof. The Begijnhof is an enclosed courtyard dating from the early 14th century. It’s also the largest courtyard of all of these hofjes.
It’s a beautiful hofje in the centre of Amsterdam. Although it’s visited by many tourists nowadays, it’s still definitely worth mentioning here.
It was originally built as a sactuary for the Begijntjes, a Catholic sisterhood who lived like nuns, but took no monastic vows.
This courtyard also includes the oldest house in Amsterdam, number 34, dating back to the year 1420. At this courtyard you’ll also find the English Church.
You can access the Begijnhof from 09.30 to 18.00 o’clock. There’s no entrance fee.
The exact address is: Begijnhof 30, 1012 WT Amsterdam
One of Amsterdam’s hidden gems is definitely Sint Andrieshofje. Hardly anyone knows about this hidden courtyard. Not even my dad, who was born and raised in Amsterdam, had ever heard of this spot.
It’s the oldest surviving almshouse in Amsterdam (after the Begijnhof). The almshouse was founded in 1614 and constructed in 1617.
When you wander off the regular tourist path and discover a hofje like this, you’ll be really suprised, in a good way. Head over to the Egelantiersgracht and find your way to this hidden spot.
You can access this courtyard from 10.00 to 17.00 o’clock. There’s no entrance fee.
The exact address is: Egelantiersgracht 105, 1015 RG Amsterdam
Located at the Prinsengracht, you’ll find the Van Brienenhofje. This is a beautiful spacious courtyard, which was founded in 1804.
The history of this almshouse begins as early as 1797, when Arnaut van Brienen purchased an adjacent residential house, warehouse, and beer brewery named ‘De Star,’ which he then demolished to construct an almshouse.
The name of the former beer brewery is reflected in the name he gave to the almshouse: ‘Van Brienen’s Gesticht Hofje De Star’.
It was originally intended to house Catholic elderly couples, men and women. Nowadays, it houses couples, women and men over 45 years of age.
You can access the courtyard from 06.00 to 18.00 o’clock. On Saturday’s and Sunday’s it’s closed. There’s no entrance fee.
The exact address is: Prinsengracht 89-133, 1015 DA Amsterdam
Bosschehofje / Raepenhofje
Another hidden gem and the definition of a ”hidden” courtyard is Bosschehofje, also known as Raepenhofje. Arent Dirkz. Bosch established this courtyard for eight elderly women in 1648.
This is a really cute and picturesque courtyard that you should definitely visit while you’re in Amsterdam. It’s one of those places that make you feel at peace because of its charm and tranquility.
To access the courtyard, you need to go through the red door. This may sound a little vague right now, but when wandering around you’ll immediately recognize it.
Relax and take in the beautiful historic scenery. Don’t forget to be quiet, as people actually live in these courtyards. When standing in the courtyard, you can see old Amsterdam warehouses in the distance.
The exact address is: Palmgracht 20-26, 1015 HM Amsterdam
Amsterdam’s hofjes are not just quaint courtyards; they are living history. From their origins as almshouses to their modern-day role in providing solace, these hofjes have withstood the test of time.
Their charm and legacy continue to offer a serene escape from the busy city streets, reminding us that a piece of Amsterdam’s heart still beats in these timeless courtyards.
So, next time you explore the Dutch capital, take a moment to step into the hidden world of these hofjes.
You’ll find yourself not only in the presence of ancient stones but in the embrace of a timeless, communal spirit. Make sure to visit these hofjes while in Amsterdam! Especially if you appreciate the combination of history and serenity.
Away with Danae
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