This courtyard with tiny houses and gardens were built in the 14th century for the Beguines, a lay Catholic sisterhood. They live like nuns, doing good deeds and praying, but they refused to live in the convent, therefore they had no official vows.
One of the two churches in this courtyard was where the Beguines worshipped in secret from the Calvinists. Roman Catholic worship was forbidden during that time, since Amsterdam was hard core protestant.
The last beguine died in 1972. But until now, only women are allowed to live in these houses.
At 5pm, the courtyard closes its doors to visitors.