In the 14th century, the Begijnhof was home to an order of women, called Beguines, who lived as nuns without taking religious vows, which allowed them to remain less restricted than normal nuns. The Beguines began in the Netherlands, and were provided housing in return for their work with educating the poor and taking care of the sick. Although none of the original houses have survived, surrounding the well-maintained green courtyard are still some of the oldest houses in Amsterdam, including one of the only two remaining wooden houses in the city, the Het Houten Huis at No. 34. These homes are still occupied today by young women students and elderly family-less women. I entered into this secluded island of tranquility from the Spui entrance, an inconspicuous archway on Spui between Gedempte Begijnensloot and Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal – walking on Spui from Rokin toward Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, it will be on your right.