Ename Abbey Ruins

Oudenaarde, Belgium

Ename Abbey (1063–1795) was a Benedictine monastery in the village of Ename, now a suburb of Oudenaarde. It was founded by Adele of France, wife of Baldwin V, Count of Flanders, and was confiscated during the French Revolutionary Wars. It was then sold and dismantled.

Around 1070 the new abbey was finished and was founded a second time with the dedication to Saint Salvator. In 1139 the Ottonian church was replaced by a bigger Romanesque church. The abbey was flourishing as it had acquired many properties that provided a steady income. Around 1165 the abbey buildings were replaced by larger and more decorated buildings in the new Gothic style.

The woods around Ename had been intensively exploited. For this reason during the 13th century the abbey started a programme of forestry by planting trees and harvesting the wood. This action seems to be the oldest record of reforestation in Europe.

During the 16th century, Europe and Flanders were shaken by revolts and civil wars provoked by an economic crisis and the diffusion of the Protestantism. Many religious buildings, including the abbey of Ename, were destroyed. Minor damage occurred during the 1566 Iconoclastic Fury, while the occupation of Oudenaarde by the Protestant troops of the city of Ghent in 1578 was disastrous for the abbey. The monks had to flee, the abbey buildings were plundered. Their ruins were used as a stone quarry until the return of the monks. In 1596 they started the rebuilding of the abbey. At the end of this period, more than half of the population of Ename had left their houses. With the return of the monks, the abbey reclaimed its property in the village and influence on the lives of the inhabitants of Ename. To emphasise this, a cross and a pillory were erected on the rectangular square of the village.

During the 17th century the abbey was very rich and its buildings were majestic. In 1657 abbot Antoon de Loose enlarged the abbot's quarters and also asked Pieter Hemony, a famous Dutch bell-founder, to cast the bells and the chimes for the carillon tower that he wanted at the entrance of the abbey. Abbot de Loose was a skilled manager of the abbey properties. Thanks to his accurate register, several details of everyday life are known today.

Abbots were involved in the political life of the county as members of the States of Flanders. As it was forbidden to discuss political matters inside the walls of the abbey, a large, modern French garden with fountains and pavilions was built in front of the abbey. There it was possible for the abbots to meet other politicians and discuss affairs of state with them.

The abbey was dismantled in 1795, when the French Revolution arrived in Flanders. Today it is possible to visit the remains of the foundations in the Provincial archaeological park of Ename.



Your name


Founded: 1063
Category: Miscellaneous historic sites in Belgium

More Information



4.1/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jona A (9 months ago)
Went today on 'Open Monument Day'. The weather was good for us: +30°C. The side entertainment was fun ... explanation about the knight's time, pottery, a merry-go-round, a bouncy castle, building a castle with Lego. For the son, it was great. Had a nice day.
Michiel Belmans (14 months ago)
An interesting site with clear infoboards. It's a must do if you're nearby!
Jeroen Vantorre (2 years ago)
Ideal if you have previously visited the Provincial Archaeological Museum 100 meters away. Nice allotments.
Patrick Laurier (3 years ago)
Friendly people at the museum, kindly sharing their knowledge.
colin gunther (4 years ago)
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week


The Pilgrimage Church of Wies (Wieskirche) is an oval rococo church, designed in the late 1740s by Dominikus Zimmermann. It is located in the foothills of the Alps in the municipality of Steingaden.

The sanctuary of Wies is a pilgrimage church extraordinarily well-preserved in the beautiful setting of an Alpine valley, and is a perfect masterpiece of Rococo art and creative genius, as well as an exceptional testimony to a civilization that has disappeared.

The hamlet of Wies, in 1738, is said to have been the setting of a miracle in which tears were seen on a simple wooden figure of Christ mounted on a column that was no longer venerated by the Premonstratensian monks of the Abbey. A wooden chapel constructed in the fields housed the miraculous statue for some time. However, pilgrims from Germany, Austria, Bohemia, and even Italy became so numerous that the Abbot of the Premonstratensians of Steingaden decided to construct a splendid sanctuary.