Ter Apel Monastery

Ter Apel, Netherlands

Ter Apel Monastery is the only monastery in the larger area of Friesland and Groningen that survived the Reformation in a decent condition, and the only remaining rural monastery from the Middle Ages in the Netherlands. The convent buildings house a museum for monastery and church history and for religious art, as well as two contemporary art galleries. The former lay church of the monastery still functions as a reformed church.

In 1464, Jacobus Wiltingh, pastor of Garrelsweer and vicar in Loppersum, bequeathed Apell, a settlement among his possessions in the area called Westerwolde, to the Order of the Holy Cross on the condition that a monastery be built there, on the remains of a 13th-century Premonstratensian monastery. The construction, between 1465 and 1561, followed the medieval plan and included the convent building, a gatehouse, water mills, a parchment facility, a bakery, a brewery, and a guesthouse.

The monastery was bequeathed a number of gifts, including a stained glass window in 1561 by Lieutenant Johan de Mepsche and his wife Agnes, depicting Moses and the tablets containing the Ten Commandments. It also derived income from other sources. The grounds surrounding the monastery were rich in loam, which was used in construction.

When the area was conquered in 1593 by William Louis, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg, Catholicism was renounced and the convent, with the entire Westerwolde area, become the property of the city of Groningen; the monastery was saved, unlike hundreds of others in the Netherlands, because the abbot converted to Protestantism.

Storms, fire, and high maintenance costs caused major problems in the centuries after 1600. The monastery underwent many changes until 1930. The west facade was demolished sometime after 1755, and so were the upper floor with the brothers' cells (1834) and the dilapidated vaults in the church (1837). Unlike all the other monasteries in Groningen, a large part of the original buildings remained.

Between 1930 and 1933, on the initiative of the city of Groningen, the remaining buildings were carefully preserved and restored, under the direction of city engineer De Vos Nederveen Cappel. On the ground floor, three of the original four wings were retained: the church for secular canons and lay people in the south wing; the chapter house and sacristy in the east wing; and the refectory (now a cafe), the vaulted supplies cellar, the sub-prior and prior's chambers, and the guest accommodations in the north wing. These wings are connected by an ambulatory, surrounding the cloister. The original medieval cloister garden has been replaced with a herb garden; the location of this garden is the only remaining detail in the Netherlands of such a medieval garden.

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Details

Founded: 1464
Category: Religious sites in Netherlands

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jacob Ritzema (20 months ago)
Erg leuk en leerzaam voor zowel jong als oud. Met een schoolklas geweest waarbij het ontvangst en rondleiding door twee leuke verklede dames werd gedaan.
Con van Staa (20 months ago)
Bijzonder rustig gelegen, mooi geconserveerd klooster. Wordt niet erg goed aangegeven qua bewegwijzering.
Derkjan Munneke (20 months ago)
Mooi bouwwerk, we hebben de expositie ' de kerk als tijdmachine' gezien. Bescheiden, maar leuk en duidelijk opgezet.
Johan Haan (20 months ago)
Beautiful place. Great to keep a monument this old in good condition and open for public.
Michael Claeren (4 years ago)
Was closed (monday) when we drove through on way to Fort Bourtange, but clearly a very unique place. Beautiful roads, charming hotel and impressive church grounds. Don't hesitate to make it part of your tourist route if in the area.
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