Monasteries in Belgium

Bonne-Espérance Abbey

Bonne-Espérance Abbey was a Premonstratensian abbey that existed from 1130 to the end of the 18th century. The abbey owed its foundation to the conversion of William, the only son and heir of Rainard, the Knight of Croix. William had followed the heretical teaching of Tanchelm, but Norbert of Xanten brought him back to Roman Catholicism. In gratitude his parents, Rainard and Beatrix, gave land to Norbert for the fo ...
Founded: 1130 | Location: Estinnes, Belgium

Keizersberg Abbey

Keizersberg Abbey, also known as Mont César Abbey is a Benedictine monastery. The Keizersberg (Caesar"s or Emperor"s hill) was the site of the castle around which the city of Leuven grew up, and which local legend connected with Julius Caesar. The castle was demolished in 1782 by order of Emperor Joseph II. On the east side of the same hill a commandery of the Knights Templars was built in 1187, which whe ...
Founded: 1888 | Location: Leuven, Belgium

Dieleghem Abbey

Dieleghem Abbey was founded in 1095 by the Bishop of Cambrai and administered by Augustinian canons. In 1140, the abbey’s monks switched to the rules of the Premonstratensian order. In the 13th century, the abbey now called Dieleghem possessed half of the commune’s territory and played an important social and economic role until the French Revolution. In November 1796, the Canons Regular were evicted and depor ...
Founded: 1095 | Location: Jette, Belgium

Averbode Abbey

Averbode Abbey was founded about 1134–1135 by Arnold II, Count of Loon. The abbey started rather small but grew over the centuries, until it was some 5500 ha in the 17th century, including farms, fields, woodland, mills, heath, and local chapels. The abbey also provided the priests for 27 parishes. The first abbey church was inaugurated in 1194, and soon after the nuns, who until then resided in Averbode as well, mo ...
Founded: 1134 | Location: Vlaanderen, 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

Rouge-Cloître Abbey

Rouge-Cloître Abbey is an Augustinian abbey, founded in 1367. The name Roodklooster or Rouge-Cloître means the Red Hermitage. Apparently, the walls of the original hermitage were coated in crushed tiles, which produced the characteristic colour. The hermitage was built in 1366 by a priest called Gilles Olivier and a layman called Walter van der Molen. William Daniel, a priest of the parish of Boendael, also ce ...
Founded: 1367 | Location: Brussels, Belgium

Brogne Abbey

Brogne Abbey was founded in 919 AD. It was destroyed in the Wars of Religion in 1525 and closed in 1795. The church and cloister are demolished, but other buildings still remain. Brewing on this site was first documented in 986. Today it produces Brogne Blonde beer.
Founded: 919 AD | Location: Mettet, Belgium

Ter Doest Abbey

Ter Doest Abbey was a Cistercian abbey in the present Lissewege, a district of Bruge. Lambert, lord of Lissewege, left an estate with a chapel in 1106 to the Benedictines, who built an abbey there. This affiliated itself to the Cistercian order in 1175 as a daughter house of Ten Duinen Abbey in Koksijde, of the filiation of Clairvaux. It had a daughter house of its own, the Abbey of Onze Lieve Vrouw Kamer, founded in 1223 ...
Founded: 1106 | Location: Lissewege, Belgium

Aulne Abbey Ruins

Aulne Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, founded by Saint Landelinus about 637. Before 974 the Benedictines were replaced by secular clerics leading a common life, who, however, embraced the Rule of St. Augustine in 1144. At the instance of Henry de Leyen, Bishop of Liège, it came into the hands of Cistercian monks from Clairvaux in 1147, under Franco de Morvaux as its first Cistercian abbot. From that time onwards ...
Founded: 637 AD | Location: Thuin, Belgium

Boneffe Abbey

Boneffe Abbey was a Cistercian monastery on the banks of the Mehaigne in what is now the municipality of Éghezée. The abbot"s residence, first built in the early 16th century and repaired in the 17th and 18th centuries, is now a listed building that is currently in use as a farmhouse. The earliest attestation to the monastery"s existence is a papal bull of 1222. The abbey church was consecrated in ...
Founded: 1222 | Location: Éghezée, Belgium

Aywiers Abbey Ruins

Aywiers Abbey was founded in 1215 by Cistercian monks. It prospered and grew thanks to donations up to 2000 hectares. During the the French Revolution the abbey will be sold and the new owner demolished it partly. Today the seven-hectare garden is surrounded by ancient walls, containing superb hundred-year-old tree specimens, shrubs and rare plants, a pond and springs as well as a garden of aromatic and medicinal plant.
Founded: 1215 | Location: Lasne, Belgium

Nieuwenbosch Abbey Ruins

Nieuwenbosch Abbey was a Cistercian community established in 1215 in Lokeren. The original site was unsuitable because of the poor water supply and the nuns moved to the site in Heusden in 1257, when the name became 'Nieuwenbosch'. The abbey was stormed and largely ruined in 1579 by the Iconoclasts, and the nuns moved for greater security inside the city of Ghent and built new premises in what is now the Lange V ...
Founded: 1257 | Location: Ghent, Belgium

Cambron Abbey

Cambron Abbey is a former Cistercian abbey, today site is now used as a zoo. Twelve monks from Clairvaux arrived at Cambron on August 1, 1148. They were sent by St. Bernard, abbot of Clairvaux. Shortly after its foundation, the abbey grew substantially. It became one of the wealthiest monasteries of Hainault and variously founded, or was given the supervision of, several daughter houses. By the end of the 14th century, t ...
Founded: 1148 | Location: Brugenette, Belgium

Villers Abbey

Villers Abbey (abbaye de Villers) is an ancient Cistercian abbey in Villers-la-Ville. In 1146, 12 Cistercian monks and three lay brothers from Clairvaux came to Villers in order to establish the abbey on land granted them by Gauthier de Marbais. After establishing several preliminary sites, work was finally undertaken in the 13th century to build the current site. The choir was constructed by 1217, the crypt by 1240, and ...
Founded: 1217 | Location: Villers-la-Ville, Belgium

Nivelles Abbey Church

The Abbey of Nivelles was a former Imperial Abbey of the Holy Roman Empire founded about 648-649 AD by the widow of Pepin of Landen, Itta of Metz, along with her daughter, Gertrude of Nivelles. The abbey began as a community of nuns; they were joined later by Irish monks from the Abbey of Mont Saint-Quentin, sent by Abbot Foillan to give support to the nuns. A group of the monks settled at Nivelles and it soon became a do ...
Founded: 649 AD | Location: Nivelles, Belgium

Nizelles Abbey

Nizelles Abbey originated as a little college set up by the monks from Moulins-Warnant Abbey to educate younger members of the local nobility. Over the years a succession of donations from grateful former pupils, backed up by generous financial support from Christine de Franckenberg, abbess over the canonesses at nearby Nivelles, made it possible for the little priory at Nizelles to be expanded into an abbey. A new church ...
Founded: 1441 | Location: Braine-l'Alleud, Belgium

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Eketorp Fort

Eketorp is an Iron Age fort in southeastern Öland, which was extensively reconstructed and enlarged in the Middle Ages. Throughout the ages the fortification has served a variety of somewhat differing uses: from defensive ringfort, to medieval safe haven and thence a cavalry garrison. In the 20th century it was further reconstructed to become a heavily visited tourist site and a location for re-enactment of medieval battles. Eketorp is the only one of the 19 known prehistoric fortifications on Öland that has been completely excavated, yielding a total of over 24,000 individual artifacts. The entirety of southern Öland has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Eketorp fortification is often referred to as Eketorp Castle.

The indigenous peoples of the Iron Age constructed the original fortification about 400 AD, a period known to have engendered contact between Öland natives with Romans and other Europeans. The ringfort in that era is thought to have been a gathering place for religious ceremonies and also a place of refuge for the local agricultural community when an outside enemy appeared. The circular design was believed to be chosen because the terrain is so level that attack from any side was equally likely. The original diameter of this circular stone fortification was about 57 metres. In the next century the stone was moved outward to construct a new circular structure of about 80 metres in diameter. At this juncture there were known to be about fifty individual cells or small structures within the fort as a whole. Some of these cells were in the center of the fortified ring, and some were actually built into the wall itself.

In the late 600s AD the ringfort was mysteriously abandoned, and it remained unused until the early 11th century. This 11th century work generally built upon the earlier fort, except that stone interior cells were replaced with timber structures, and a second outer defensive wall was erected.

Presently the fort is used as a tourist site for visitors to Öland to experience a medieval fortification for this region. A museum within the castle walls displays a few of the large number of artefacts retrieved by the National Heritage Board during the major decade long excavation ending in 1974. Inside the fort visitors are greeted by actors in medieval costumes who assume the roles of period artisans and merchants who might have lived there nine centuries earlier. There are also re-enactment scenes of skirmishes and other dramatic events of daily life from the Middle Ages.

Eketorp lies a few kilometers west of Route 136. There is an ample unpaved parking area situated approximately two kilometers west of the paved Öland perimeter highway. There is also a gift shop on site. During peak summer visitation, there are guided tours available. Visitors are assessed an admission charge.