Monasteries in 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

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

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 foundati ...
Founded: 1130 | Location: Estinnes, 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

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

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

Meersel-Dreef Monastery

Dreef developed around the Capuchin Monastery, which was built in 1687 near the mark. The monastery serves as a parish church for the parish Meersel-Recherche and the monastery itself serving since 1968 as kapelanij. In 1889 a beech lane was constructed to the monastery. The Recherche, which has been protected since 1953, gave its name to the village that grew up around. Furthermore, as a monument recognized Maria Park (p ...
Founded: 1687 | Location: Hoogstraten, 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

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

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

Oignies Abbey

Oignies Abbey is a former Augustinian monastery established in 1187. Four brothers from Walcourt settled at Oignies, Three of the brothers, Gilles, Robert and John, were priests, while the fourth, Hugo, was a jeweller and metalworker. Several other men settled with them and they formed the community of St. Nicolas of Oignies, adopting the rule of St. Augustine. In 1192, St Nicolas of Oignies was officially recognized as a ...
Founded: 1187 | Location: Aiseau-Presles, 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

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

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

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

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

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. Anne. The first m ...
Founded: 1100/1898 | Location: Bruges, 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Holy Trinity Column

The Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc is a Baroque monument built in 1716–1754 in honour of God. The main purpose was a spectacular celebration of Catholic Church and faith, partly caused by feeling of gratitude for ending a plague, which struck Moravia between 1713 and 1715. The column was also understood to be an expression of local patriotism, since all artists and master craftsmen working on this monument were Olomouc citizens, and almost all depicted saints were connected with the city of Olomouc in some way. The column is the biggest Baroque sculptural group in the Czech Republic. In 2000 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.

The column is dominated by gilded copper sculptures of the Holy Trinity accompanied by the Archangel Gabriel on the top and the Assumption of the Virgin beneath it.

The base of the column, in three levels, is surrounded by 18 more stone sculptures of saints and 14 reliefs in elaborate cartouches. At the uppermost stage are saints connected with Jesus’ earth life – his mother’s parents St. Anne and St. Joachim, his foster-father St. Joseph, and St. John the Baptist, who was preparing his coming – who are accompanied by St. Lawrence and St. Jerome, saints to whom the chapel in the Olomouc town hall was dedicated. Three reliefs represent the Three theological virtues Faith, Hope, and Love.

Below them, the second stage is dedicated to Moravian saints St. Cyril and St. Methodius, who came to Great Moravia to spread Christianity in 863, St. Blaise, in whose name one of the main Olomouc churches is consecrated, and patrons of neighbouring Bohemia St. Adalbert of Prague and St. John of Nepomuk, whose following was very strong there as well.

In the lowest stage one can see the figures of an Austrian patron St. Maurice and a Bohemian patron St. Wenceslas, in whose names two important Olomouc churches were consecrated, another Austrian patron St. Florian, who was also viewed as a protector against various disasters, especially fire, St. John of Capistrano, who used to preach in Olomouc, St. Anthony of Padua, a member of the Franciscan Order, which owned an important monastery in Olomouc, and St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a patron of students. His sculpture showed that Olomouc was very proud of its university. Reliefs of all twelve apostles are placed among these sculptures.

The column also houses a small chapel inside with reliefs depicting Cain's offering from his crop, Abel's offering of firstlings of his flock, Noah's first burnt offering after the Flood, Abraham's offering of Isaac and of a lamb, and Jesus' death. The cities of Jerusalem and Olomouc can be seen in the background of the last mentioned relief.