The Begijnhof (Beguinage) is a tranquil courtyard in the center of the city. It dates back to the fourteenth century, when it was built for the Beguines.The oldest and most famous of the many courtyards in the city, the Beguinage was created in 1346 to house Beguines, pious Catholic women who lived and dressed like nuns, without taking formal vows. They lived together in small urban communes known as Beguinages.The historic rowhouses are arranged around a central green square. None of the original houses survived, but Amsterdam's oldest house, the Houten Huis, can be found here, at no. 34. The house with a black wooden facade was built around 1420 and is one of just two remaining wooden houses in the city. In 1521, after fierce fires broke out, the construction of wooden houses was outlawed.