Achel Abbey

Hamont-Achel, Belgium

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 that the Catholic mass was not allowed in the Dutch Republic. Therefore, Catholics from Valkenswaard and Schaft built a chapel in Achel which was part of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The early roots of the Abbey date back to 1686, when Petrus van Eynatten, a son of the mayor of Eindhoven, founded a community of hermits of Saint Joseph. The community would flourish until 1789 when they were expelled from their convent after the French revolutionary army invaded the Austrian Netherlands. The abbey was sold to Jan Diederik van Tuyll van Serooskerken.

On 21 March 1846 the Trappists from Westmalle Abbey founded a priory in Achel (first founded in Meersel-Dreef on 3 May 1838 in a former monastery of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin). The abbey and its 95 hectares of land had been bought by the priest Gast from Heeze on 9 April 1845 with the support of several beneficiaries. The first beer to be brewed on the site was the 'Patersvaatje' in 1852. In 1871, the priory was granted the status of abbey and beer brewing became a regular activity. By reclaiming wasteland, the agriculture and cattle-breeding of the abbey prospered. In addition several daughter-houses were founded in Echt, Diepenveen, Rochefort and the abbey of Notre Dame de l'Emmanuel in Kasanza in 1958 (Belgian Congo).

At the beginning of World War I (1914) the monks left the abbey. The Germans dismantled the brewery in 1917 to salvage the approximately 700 kg of copper. After World War II a new abbey was built between 1946 and 1952, but only two wings of the planned four were completed. In 1989 the abbey sold most of its land to the Dutch National Forest Administration and the Flemish Government. In 1998 with the support from the trappists from Westmalle and Rochefort brewing started again.

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Founded: 1686
Category: Religious sites in Belgium

Rating

4.1/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ben Murphy (2 months ago)
Very nice visit and we met some excellent people in the restaurant, store, and the museum. Sad to have missed out on a full tour, but we went on a Thursday.
Darshan Rajgor (6 months ago)
Nice place to visit, nice restaurant also.
Jasper Arts (7 months ago)
Very informative guided tours of the abbey every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You can buy your tickets in the beer shop (next to the antique cart with the barrels).
Holy Schit (15 months ago)
We had a pleasant time visiting this monastery. Upon arrival we were greeted by the kind bartender who patiently helped us to choose from the menu. The soups tasted like grandma’s home made recipe and the snacks and cakes were they right portion and delicious. Nothing is pricey and I would only advise to go during winter, because it is quiet and not packed. Before we left, we visited the store and bought so many interesting stuff. Again, nothing overpriced. In fact, cheaper than in supermarkets.
B before art (4 years ago)
Very cosy to grab a coffee, lunch or beer
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