This is one of the main places of interest in Bruges. It was founded in the 13th century, though the majority of white houses appeared only in the 17th and 18th centuries. The arch bridge, which forms the entrance to the palace, was built in 1570. Beguine sisterhood doesn't live there anymore, and this place now belongs to the Benedictines from De Wijngaard convent. The house under the first number serves as a museum, so everyone can get an idea of Beguine's way of life. The kitchen, the dining-room and bedrooms are furnished in the style of the 17th century. Initially, the main chapel was made of wood, but, unfortunately, it burnt down. In 1605 a new chapel in the baroque style was built on its site. Fortunately, it has remained undamaged till our times. Nowadays, everyone is welcome to visit the chapel. The chapel is famous for the oldest image of Our Lady in Bruges. The image was created in 1240. There is also an altar with the alabaster sculpture of Christ of the 17th century on the right.
Beguinage is situated near Minnewater Lake, which used to be a part of the canal that connected Bruges and Ghent. Nowadays it's just a small picturesque lake with beautiful swans swimming in it. There is an interesting legend in Bruges, which is connected with swans. When Maximilian of Austria raised the taxes again, Bruges citizens rebelled and captivated the city. They also beheaded the former town head, whose name was Pieter Lanchals (it means 'long neck'). When Maximilian got the power back, he made an order, according to which swans (because they also have long necks) are to be bred till the end of the world in Bruges. Do you know how to differ a female swan from a male swan? You can guess by the mark - male swans have it on the right clutch and female swans have it on the left one.
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