Murder in the Beguinage 

An interactive discovery of the historical beguinage of Lier

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Welcome to the beguinage of Lier or in Flemish, het begijnhof van Lier. Lier is a small province town in Antwerp, Flanders (the northern part of Belgium, Europe).

This interactive discovery will show you the most beautiful places in the beguinage in an entertaining way. You will be in charge in a murder case that recently happened in the beguinage. It will become clear that the murderer must be searched in one of the 162 houses of the beguinage itself...

You can walk around this beautiful village inside the city by clicking the pictures. Each place can lead to four different other places, though most will lead to only two or three. 

  • When you click a picture that is not a street, you examine it in detail in another browser. Close the picture when you don't need it anymore.
  • When you click a picture of a street, you will end up on the next place located on this street. This way, you can navigate through the beguinage.
  • When you take any of the four exit gates (indicated in the text), you end up on this page.

Nederlandstalig? Lees hier meer over Lier


[enter beguinage via Beguinage Street] [enter beguinage via Sheep Heads Street
[enter beguinage via Sporting Fields] [enter beguinage via City Walk]

[start guided tour]



At each page, you will find real historical information about the specific location you are in.

The history of the beguinage in Lier begins 800 years ago in the early 13th century, when a few beguines lived together in the first kernel of beguinages in Flanders.

In the middle of the 13th century, when three sisters decide to give their inheritance in order to found a place for spiritual women, the beguinage of Lier is a fact. 

In 1258, this beguinage was the first ecclesiastic institution of the city.

Around 1400, the beguinage consisted of a church, an infirmery and three convents where beguines lived together.

More than once, the beguinage was partly destroyed by fire: in 1485, in 1526 and in 1542 the houses and institutions were seriously damaged.

In the 14th and 15 century, the beguinage gradually increased in size. This growth continued in the 17th and 18th century.

In the 17th century, the church was rebuilt. The last extension occurred in 1721-1726 with the cultivation of the Grachtkant ("Ditch Side" Street).  

During the French revolution, the beguinage was confiscated and sold. Only in 1814, the beguines were allowed to wear their spiritual clothes again.

At this moment, the beguinage is a "village in the city". Its 162 houses are surrounded by a wall. Four gates give access to this UNESCO World Heritage.

[List of references]


Murder tip

Each place will also give you a tip about the murder, the victim or something that has to do with the case you are investigating. (These are not necessarily historically true).

If you want to solve the murder case, you will need some paper and a pen. Alternatively, you could open a text writer on your computer and switch to these pages and back when you have found useful information.

If you think you have solved the mystery, go to the Church of Saint Margareth and enter the confession chair. There, you can compare your version with the right one.

About the murder case

It's a sunny day in late summer. Your last working day, only two hours before your vacation...

Suddenly, your mobile phone rings (actually, it makes an irritating noise that resembles a broken hairdryer).

"Chief, are you still in for a murder case? We have one. One of the best in years!"

"Where? What? Details?" (you simply love getting to the point immediately)

"Beguinage of Lier, Martienushoek, a young woman, most probably she died of a knife wound in the neck" (you simply love it when your officers answer the most, er, vital questions first).

"Be right there. Send a doctor within an hour or so".

"Okay, success!" (click)

  As soon as you reach the beguinage, the silence and peace of the place make you think you are on holiday. You don't mind working during your vacation (after all, it's not the first time, and as your former boss used to say, "once a cop, always a cop"). 

But your mind begins to wander... could you solve this case in what's left of your working time? Two hours or less?

You enter the beguinage via one of its four gates. Choose one by clicking the picture.




Beguinage Street

Probably the most beautiful gate of the beguinage, this baroque monument was built around 1690. It consists of a brick wall with sandstone plinth.

The smaller gate at the right was used to enter the beguinage by night, after approval of the portress.

The white statue on top is made in 1777 out of terracotta and figures H. Begga, wrongly supposed to have founded the beguinages. Since years historians think that the name "begijn" (beguine) is derived from a priest whose nickname was "le Bgue" ("the stammerer"). Another explanation is the colour of their clothes in the 12th century, bge (ash gray). 

enter the beguinage

  Beguinage Street baroque statue of St Begga




Sheep Heads Street

The name "Sheep Heads" refers to the nickname given to the inhabitants of Lier in the Middle Ages.

According to a legend, Lier had served Duke John in one of his battles. He let Lier choose between a university and a cattle market.

The inhabitants discussed the offer and concluded: "A university costs money, a cattle market earns money, therefore, give us the cattle market". Whereupon the duke remarked: "O arme schaeps hoofden, omdat zij niet meer en vraeghden" (poor sheep heads because they didn't ask for more).

enter the beguinage

  Beguinage gate legend of Lier




Sporting Fields

With the cultivation of the Ditch Side in the 18th century, this gate was added relatively lately to the beguinage.

Behind this gate, on the nonvisible side, are the sporting fields of Lier. These lie next to the river Nete, the river that is the reason Lier exists today.

The famous place "where the three Netes form a silver knot" (Timmermans, Schoon Lier) is only a few metres away.

enter the beguinage

  Beguinage Lier sporting fields entrance




City Walk

Originally, the beguinage was outside the city, for the first city wall (built around 1400) did not enclose this miniature village.

The second city wall, built at the end of the 15th century, was larger and in fact too large for the city.

Near the end of the 18th century, with the growing mobility of armies and better weaponry, the need for a fortified wall decreased. The wall was broken down and trees were planted.

Nowadays, inhabitants of Lier call the green braid still "Vest" (abbreviation for "vestingmuur", meaning fortified wall).

enter the beguinage

  Beguinage Lier city walk


[Yet Another AbOrigineMundi creation] [reference] [15/05/2009 ] [Peter Doomen] [ AbOrigineMundi 2001]