Monastries in Amsterdam: if walls could speak

Monastries in Amsterdam: if walls could speak

You wouldn’t guess this when you walk around the streets of the Red Light District these days. There is almost nothing in the Red Light District that hints at the many monastries that were located here in the Middle Ages. Amsterdam was a very small town in those days, but it had 19 monastries. You could find most of them in and around the area where sex is the best-selling product these days.

Monastries in the Red Light District

If you are staying in Shelter City, you should stand on a chair in the hall. There you can see an old piece of a wall; one of the few remains of monasteries in this area. In 1915 they built a school building here in the Barndesteeg (which is now the Shelter City), but where once was a monastery. That alley once burned down completely. It is probably where the name ‘Barndesteeg’ comes from. The monastries were like villages in themselves containing a garden with walls around it, a chapel, and houses. In this monastery, there was also an operating room, a “bloetcamer”. The Bloedstraat (“Blood street”) that passes behind our hostel still reminds us of this.

Monastries - History - Amsterdam - Minderbroedersklooster (1)



Modern monastries-like hostel in Amsterdam

In 1578 Amsterdam became a Protestant city. Roman Catholics living here were expelled. The people of Amsterdam started giving monastries new functions. For example, the building that now houses the Amsterdam Museum was once a convent and at this time became an orphanage. And on the location of the Shelter City, Vincent van Gogh taught children in ‘Sunday School’ in church.

There is a big contrast between the neighborhood now and how it was back in the Middle Ages – a red light district in stead of many monastries. As Christian hostel we try to bring back the calm and peaceful atmosphere from ages ago. And be a true Shelter for all who stay with us.

Monastries - History - Charity Amsterdam - Voedseluitdeling Barndesteeg

Tot Heil des Volks

At the beginning of the last century, the Amsterdam foundation Tot Heil des Volks (THDV) started a school for the poorest children in the city. In the Second World War, the organization helped countless people to go into hiding places and given food stamps. The director of the foundation even spent a few months in prison for his role in this. In the early 1970s – when Amsterdam became the hippie/free city of the world – the school was converted into a hostel. The hostel is still part of the THDV foundation. The profit of the hostel goes to help the most vulnerable groups in the city, such as addicts, homeless people, and prostitutes. Even though we are not a convent, the good works that once were done there, we continue to do in our own way.

Shelter hostels: doing good while you sleep

Are you looking for a place to stay? To find rest for your soul? Consider staying in our hostel in Amsterdam. As a Christian hostel, we love to offer Shelter to people, giving them a warm home away from home. And because the profits of our hostels go to a local charity in Amsterdam, you do good while you sleep! Enjoy peace and quietness while exploring our dynamic historical city.

Discover the beauty of Amsterdam