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Beguinage

UNESCO World heritage site

Beguinages were closed courtyards where widows and unmarried women led a religiously inspired but independent life. Self-rule occurred under the leadership of a ‘grand dame’ (grootjuffrouw).

The beguines supported themselves by weaving, making lace or embroidering. They took a vow of purity and obedience but not of poverty. There was great harmony between the spiritual and material life. They could leave the beguinage whenever they wished.

The Lier beguinage was created in 1258. It is a typical 13th century street beguinage comprising 11 alleys and 162 houses. At the centre stands St Margaret's Church (17-18th century).

There is also a calvary, a former convent and a former infirmery which later became an orphanage for girls.

The entrance in Begijnhofstraat is accentuated by a monumental bluestone gateway (1690). Atop it is a terracotta statue of St Begga (1777), the patron saint of the beguines. To the left of the gate is a polychrome statute of Our Lady of Remedy (14th century).

Various places in the beguinage remind us of author and painter Felix Timmermans, who found much of his inspiration here. He also gave it its nickname “The almond bean of Lier”. His short story “The wonderful hours of Miss Symforosa, the beguine” (De zeer schoone uren van Juffrouw Symforosa begijntjen, 1918) is, for the most part, set here.

Agnes, the last beguine of Lier, died in 1994.

In 1998 the Lier beguinage, together with 12 other beguinages in Belgium, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

st-Margarita

St Margaret's Church

St Margaret’s Church in the beguinage is dedicated to St Margaret of Antioch, martyr and patron saint of the Lier beguinage....

Piëta

Pieta

In the middle of Kalvarieberg (Calvary Hill) in the beguinage there is a rectangular garden that is accessed via a wooden gate. Here we can see...

St Begga

St Begga

The terracotta statue of St Begga (1770), the patron saint of beguines and stutterers, is to be found above the monumental entrance gate (1690) to the...

Our Lady of Remedy

Our Lady of Remedy

In a recess next to the principal entrance gate to the beguinage we find Our Lady Of Remedy.

Legend has...

juffrouw Symforosa

Symforosa

In the beguinage the graceful Symforosa stands next to ...

Felix Timmermans

Felix Timmermans

Felix Timmermans (1886 - 1947) was self-taught and wrote plays, novels, short stories and poems.

His best known work is Pallieter...

Water pump in beguinage

Water pumps

Author Felix Timmermans called town pumps “statutes dedicated to no one”.

The oldest date from the 18th century...

Opening times

  • daily until 22.00

Admission

  • free

entrance gates in Begijnhofstraat, Schapenkoppenstraat and town's ramparts

 

Opening times

1 November to 31 March
Monday to Friday: 9.00 - 12.30 & 13.30 - 16.30

1 April to 31 October
Monday to Friday: 9.00 - 16.30
Saturday, Sunday & Bank Holidays: 9.00 - 12.30 & 13.00 - 16.00

Grote Markt 58, 2500 LIER
tel. +32 3 8000 555