Monasteries in Belgium

Amay Abbey

The former Cistercian nuns Amay abbey (historically known as Abbey of the Paix-Dieu) was founded in 1244. The abbey church was rebuilt in 1313. The fire destroyed it with the adjoining dormitory and cloister in 1600. The last reconstruction dates from 1730-1767. The abbey was dissolved and nationalized during the French Revolution.
Founded: 1244 | Location: Amay, Belgium

Brecht Abbey

In 1236 the Trappistine Brecht monastery of Our Lady of Nazareth at Lier (Duchy of Brabant) was accepted into the Cistercian Order. Blessed Beatrice of Nazareth (1200-1268) was its first prioress. For five centuries the abbey flourished, until 1797, when it was closed in the aftermath of the French Revolution, when the French Revolutionary Army occupied the Austrian Netherlands. The abbey did not recover from the closure ...
Founded: 1236 | Location: Brecht, Belgium

Forest Abbey

Forest Abbey is a Benedictine Abbey founded in 1105, beside a creek, a tributary of the Zenne, southwest of the city of Brussels. The abbots of Affligem, which had been the ecclesiastical owners of the parish since the bishop of Cambrai ceded it to them in 1105, decided to build a priory for women in Forest, Forest Abbey. The first abbess of the Forest priory was named in 1239. Also in the 13th century, the Romanesque chu ...
Founded: 1105 | Location: Brussels, Belgium

St. Andrew's Abbey

St. Andrew"s Abbey was a Benedictine abbey which was destroyed in the French Revolution. Its modern successor St. Andrew"s Abbey, Zevenkerken, founded in 1899–1900, is a Benedictine abbey of the Congregation of the Annunciation. The charter of the abbey was signed in 1100 and ratified by Count Robert II of Flanders. The abbey was built on what is now the site of the parish church of St. Andrew and St. Ann ...
Founded: 1100/1898 | Location: Bruges, Belgium

Saint-Hubert Abbey Church

The Abbey of Saint-Hubert, officially the Abbey of St Peter in the Ardennes, was a Benedictine monastery founded in the Ardennes in 687 and suppressed in 1797. The former abbey church is now a minor basilica in the diocese of Namur. The monastery was founded in the village of Andage in 687 by Pepin of Herstal and his wife, Plectrude, for the monk Bergis. The remains of St Hubert (died 727) were installed in t ...
Founded: 687 AD | Location: Saint-Hubert, Belgium

St. Peter's Abbey

St. Peter"s Abbey is a former Benedictine abbey in Ghent, now a museum and exhibition centre. St. Peter"s was founded in the late 7th century by Amandus, a missionary sent by the Frankish kings to Christianize the pagan inhabitants of the region, who founded two monasteries in the area, St. Bavo"s, and St. Peter"s on the Blandijnberg. During the winter of 879-80, the abbey was raided and plundered by t ...
Founded: 7th century AD | Location: Ghent, Belgium

Grimbergen Abbey

Grimbergen Abbey is a Premonstratensian monastery established in 1128 in the place of an earlier foundation of Augustinian Canons. The abbey itself was dissolved in 1796 in the aftermath of the French Revolution, but the abbey church of Saint Servatius survived as the parish church of Grimbergen. After the French Revolution the abbey was reinstated. The building in its present form dates from 1660 and is considered one o ...
Founded: 1128 | Location: Grimbergen, Belgium

Affligem Abbey

Affligem Abbey, dedicated in 1086, was the most important monastery in the Duchy of Brabant. The abbey of Affligem was probably founded in 1062 by six hermits, a group of knights who repented of their violent way of life. Hermann II, Count Palatine of Lotharingia (1061–1085) and his guardian, Anno II, archbishop of Cologne (d. 1075) are considered official founders. The count Palatine donated the land on which to bu ...
Founded: 1062 | Location: Affligem, Belgium

Drongen Abbey

Drongen Abbey is a monastic complex on the River Leie in Drongen, a part of the city of Ghent. Formerly a Premonstratensian abbey, since 1837 the premises have belonged to the Jesuits. In the Middle Ages there were two legends regarding the abbey"s foundation in the 7th century. According to one, the abbey was built by a certain Basinus, king of Basotes; according to the other, its founder was Saint Amandus, who als ...
Founded: 7th century/1638 | Location: Ghent, Belgium

La Cambre Abbey

The Abbey of La Cambre or Ter Kameren Abbey is a former Cistercian abbey in Ixelles, Brussels. The abbey church is a catholic parish of the Archdiocese of Malines-Brussels and home to a community of Norbertine canons while other parts of the monastery house the headquarters of the Belgian National Geographic Institute and La Cambre, a prestigious visual arts school. The abbey was founded about 1196, by its patroness Gis& ...
Founded: c. 1196 | Location: Brussels, Belgium

Herkenrode Abbey

Herkenrode Abbey is a former monastery of Cistercian nuns. Since 1972 some of the surviving buildings have served as the home of a community of the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre, who have since built a new retreat center and church on the site. The abbey was founded in or about 1182 by Count Gerard of Loon, who sold a part of his lands to raise funds for his participation in the Crusades, and used some of the proceeds ...
Founded: 1182 | Location: Hasselt, Belgium

Bois-Seigneur-Isaac Abbey

Bois-Seigneur-Isaac Abbey is a former Augustinian abbey, now a Premonstratensian priory. In the 11th century Lord Isaac set out on Crusade and was taken prisoner by the Saracens, but was miraculously freed following a vision of the Virgin Mary. On returning to his lands he built a wooden chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Grace and Consolation, with a statue venerated for nearly two centuries. In 1336 the neighbouring villag ...
Founded: 1413 | Location: Braine-l'Alleud, Belgium

Gembloux Abbey

Gembloux Abbey was a Benedictine abbey founded about 945 by Saint Guibert or Wibert and dedicated to Saint Peter and the martyr Saint Exuperius. In 954 the Hungarians threatened to pillage the monastery. Guibert not only saved it from harm but also converted some Hungarians to Christianity. On 23 May 962, Guibert died at Gorze and his remains were brought for burial to Gembloux. Olbert (1012-1048) built a new abbey churc ...
Founded: 945 AD | Location: Gembloux, Belgium

Scourmont Abbey

Scourmont Abbey is a Trappist monastery famous for its spiritual life, and the Chimay Brewery which it runs, one of the few Trappist breweries. In 1844, Jean-Baptiste Jourdain, the priest of Virelles, suggested that the wild plateau of Scourmont was a suitable place for a monastery. However, all previous attempts to cultivate the barren plateau had failed. Fr. Jourdain obtained support for the proposed foundation from Pr ...
Founded: 1850 | Location: Chimay, Belgium

Andenne Abbey Church

Saint Begga, great-great-grandmother of Charlemagne, founded a Merovingian abbey in Andenne circa 692. That abbey comprised seven churches, in addition to two separate quarters. In the 11th century, the monastery was changed intoa secular chapter. Secular power required recruitment among the nobility. That is why the early monastery becamea predominantly female Noble Chapter. In 1762, the seven churches were in a very po ...
Founded: 692 AD | Location: Andenne, Belgium

Orval Abbey

Orval Abbey is a Cistercian monastery founded in 1132. The abbey is well known for its history and spiritual life but also for its local production of the Trappist beer Orval and a specific cheese. The site has been occupied since the Merovingian period, and there is evidence that there was already a chapel here in the 10th century. In 1070, a group of Benedictine monks from Calabria settled here, at the invitation of Ar ...
Founded: 1132 | Location: Florenville, Belgium

Achel Abbey

The Trappist Abbey of Achel or Saint Benedictus-Abbey is famous for its spiritual life and its brewery, which is one of few Trappist beer breweries in the world. Life in the abbey is characterised by prayer, reading and manual work, the three basic elements of Trappist life. In 1648, at the end of the Eighty Years War, the Treaty of Münster was signed between Spain and the Netherlands. The result of the treaty was t ...
Founded: 1686 | Location: Hamont-Achel, Belgium

Saint Gertrude's Abbey Church

Saint Gertrude"s was an Augustine abbey, limited to 12 canons of noble descent. The church was built from the 14th to the 16th century. The tower has an openwork spire, dating from 1453. Inside is an 18th century carillon. The abbey was closed in 1796 (during French occupation) and the buildings got other uses. In 1919 it became a Benedictine abbey. Reconstructions were carried out after the fire during World War II ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Leuven, Belgium

Maredsous Abbey

Maredsous Abbey was founded in 1872 by Beuron Abbey in Germany. The foundation was supported financially by the Desclée family, who paid for the design and construction of the spectacular buildings, which are the masterwork of the architect Jean-Baptiste de Béthune (1831–1894), leader of the neo-gothic style in Belgium. The overall plan is based on the 13th century Cistercian abbey of Villers at Viller ...
Founded: 1872 | Location: Denée, Belgium

Chevetogne Abbey

Chevetogne Abbey, also known as the Monastery of the Holy Cross, is a Roman Catholic Benedictine monastery dedicated to Christian unity located in the Belgian village of Chevetogne. Currently, the monastery has 27 monks. In 1924 Pope Pius XI addressed the apostolic letter Equidem verba to the Benedictine Order encouraging them to work for the reunion of the Catholic and Eastern Churches, with particular emphasis on the R ...
Founded: 1939 | Location: Chevetogne, Belgium

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.