Top Historic Sights in Arlon, Belgium

Explore the historic highlights of Arlon

Neptune Roman Tower

At the end of the 3rd century Arlon was fortified with the construction of ramparts. This castrum was 800 metres in circumference with walls that were 4 metres thick and 8 metres high with two gateways and around 20 watch towers. The Neptune tower was identical to the Jupiter tower recently discovered near to the Town Hall. The small museum consists of remains of the tower which were discovered during archaeological exca ...
Founded: 200-300 AD | Location: Arlon, Belgium

St. Donat Church

Waléran, the first Count of Arlon, built a fortified chateau at the top of the town during the 11th century. Along with the town ramparts, this was completely destroyed in 1558 when Arlon was pillaged by the troops of the Duc de Guise. When the Capuchin monks arrivedin Arlon in 1621, they built their abbey on the ruins of the castle. In 1681 a Vauban-type fortified wall was built transforming the abbey into a citadel. A ...
Founded: 1621 | Location: Arlon, Belgium

Arlon Archaeological Museum

The Gallo-Roman Lapidary Gallery is the largest of its kind in Belgium, with the best-quality artefacts. It contains more than 425 sculptures from funerary monuments and civic buildings. The exhibits include around sixty large fragments sculpted on several sides, plus shards of pottery and other discoveries which paint a picture of daily life during the Gallo-Roman era. The museum’s fascinating Frankish gallery displays ...
Founded: 1847 | Location: Arlon, Belgium

Autelbas Castle

The current Autelbas castle was built in 1432 on the ruins of the old castle from the 13th century (destroyed in 1412 by the Burgundy army). In 1983, Autelbas Castle fell victim to a large fire and burned to the ground. It has been a ruin ever since. The last decade there have been some consolidation campaigns but it is clear that it still needs some considerable restoration works for it to survive.
Founded: 1432 | Location: Arlon, Belgium

Clairefontaine Abbey Ruins

The remains of the former Abbey of Notre-Dame de Clairefontaine are near Clairefontaine, a Belgian hamlet belonging to the city of Arlon. The valley has been inhabited since Roman times and castle Bardenbourg, in which amongst others Countess Ermesinde resided, saw several important personalities of its time. These included Pope Eugene III, who stopped there in 1147 with a group of 18 Cardinals on a trip from Rheims to Tr ...
Founded: c. 1247 | Location: Arlon, Belgium

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Sweetheart Abbey

Sweetheart Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, founded in 1275 by Dervorguilla of Galloway in memory of her husband John de Balliol. His embalmed heart, in a casket of ivory and silver, was buried alongside her when she died; the monks at the Abbey then renamed the Abbey in tribute to her. Their son, also John, became king of Scotland but his reign was tragic and short. The depredations suffered by the Abbey in subsequent periods, have caused both the graves to be lost. The abbey, built in deep-red, local sandstone, was founded as a daughter house to Dundrennan Abbey; this Novum Monasterium (New Monastery), became known as the New Abbey.

The immediate abbey precincts extended to 120,000 m2 and sections of the surrounding wall can still be seen today. The Cistercian order, also known as the White Monks because of the white habit, over which they wore a black scapular or apron, built many great abbeys after their establishment around 1100. Like many of their abbeys, the New Abbey's interests lay not only in prayer and contemplation but in the farming and commercial activity of the area, making it the centre of local life. The abbey ruins dominate the skyline today and one can only imagine how it and the monks would have dominated early medieval life as farmers, agriculturalists, horse and cattle breeders. Surrounded by rich and fertile grazing and arable land, they became increasingly expert and systematic in their farming and breeding methods. Like all Cistercian abbeys, they made their mark, not only on the religious life of the district but on the ways of local farmers and influenced agriculture in the surrounding areas.

The village which stands next to the ruins today, is now known as New Abbey. At the other end of the main street is Monksmill, a corn mill. Although the present buildings date from the late eighteenth century, there was an earlier mill built by and for the monks of the abbey which serviced the surrounding farms.