Rouge-Cloître Abbey

Brussels, Belgium

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 celebrated Mass there from time to time. The founding charter was witnessed by Jeanne, Duchess of Brabant, on 1 March 1367. Shortly after, some time between 1367 and 1369 and following the example of the nearby priory of Groenendael, the community adopted the Rule of St. Augustine.

The foundation was confirmed in 1373 by Gérard de Dainville, Bishop of Cambrai and the following year was affiliated to the order of Chanoines réguliers de saint Augustin. The community grew quickly. In 1381, construction of the church was initiated, after receiving gifts of land and lakes from the Duchess of Brabant, as well as privileges and tax exemptions.

In 1402, along with other Brabant priories, Rouge-Cloître formed a congregation (or General Chapter) which was led by Groenendael. In 1412, as part of the Groenendael congregation, the abbey joined the Windesheim congregation. These first centuries of the priory were ones of great devotion. It possessed a fine library and developed a notable illumination workshop.

The location of the monastery provided easy access to the sandstone necessary for construction and wood from the forest was used for furniture and heating. Springs are plentiful in the area, the ponds supplied fish, and a water mill on the stream was used to grind grain and press oil. Part of the forest was cleared to provide cattle pasture. In 1400, an enclosure was created which partly survives today.

The white sandstone church is decorated with paintings from Rubens' studio and in the 16th century, the monastery was one of the most prestigious in the Spanish Netherlands, in large part due to its proximity to Brussels. Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, Albert VII, Archduke of Austria and Isabella of Spain all stayed there, as well as many other notable personages.

At the end of the 16th century, during the Dutch Revolt, the priory was pillaged and the canons were forced to rake refuge in Brussels until the uprising was over. The abbey was abolished in 1796.



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Founded: 1367
Category: Religious sites in Belgium

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4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Robert Rowe (45 days ago)
It's a beautiful old former monastery surrounded by woods, lakes, gardens, playgrounds for children, enclosures with working farm animals and a botanical garden. You can take long walks round the extensive grounds. Entrance to all these is free. No need to book. There is also a fine cafe which does light meals, and the main buildings host occasional art exhibitions and cultural events. You can get to Rouge Cloître / Rood Kloster on Brussels municipal buses, or by car and use the free car parking at the main entrance.
Elmira Kamalova (2 months ago)
Lovely park! Every time we come here with kids, it feels so relaxing, beautiful, and well taken care of. Nice playgrounds scattered through the park. Horses and donkeys, goats, and chicken. Feels like you're away in the countryside. ??? The major downside is the lack of the toilets though..
Marc Stroobants (3 months ago)
A deep valley in the forest is the site of an old cloister. The buildings are now occupied by an artists center and stables. There are extensive childrens' playgrounds that are relatively new and well kept, but alas, no watering hole for the moms and dads :o( so, bring your own beers and sandwiches.
Nadine Mc Cabe-De Villiers (7 months ago)
Lovely park with amazing coffee shop / restaurant
Amar (8 months ago)
Nice surrounding. Service at the cafeteria can be way improved by many solutions. I.e. offering a bar outside with a fridge to get our own cold refreshment rather than having to wait 20'-30' for simple drinks to be ordered then 15'-20' more to receive them. Snacks not served later in the evening. The manager might like to think about upgrading services 1-2 times a week to include staying open until much later with some live music and other food options with a supplement.
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