A public pump in one of the Beguinage streets of Lier-Belgium
One of the prides of Lier is the “Beguinage” (Dutch : Begijnhof). It dates from the 13th century and ranks among the largest and most beautiful beguinages in Belgium.
Beguinages were founded in most medieval cities of the low countries at the time of the crusades. A lot of women had lost their husbands and wanted to live in protected communities. Most of these women, however, did not want to join a convent or a monastery, where they had to make vows. In the beguinages, the ladies could live like nuns or sisters, without having to make vows that would tie them for the rest of their lives. The system of beguinages continued to exist in the low countries until this century. Most beguinages consisted of a group a small houses, which, together, formed a little separate village inside a city