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.References:
Medvedgrad is a medieval fortified town located on the south slopes of Medvednica mountain, approximately halfway from the Croatian capital Zagreb to the mountain top Sljeme. For defensive purposes it was built on a hill, Mali Plazur, that is a spur of the main ridge of the mountain that overlooks the city. On a clear day the castle can be seen from far away, especially the high main tower. Below the main tower of the castle is Oltar Domovine (Altar of the homeland) which is dedicated to Croatian soldiers killed in the Croatian War of Independence.
In 1242, Mongols invaded Zagreb. The city was destroyed and burned to the ground. This prompted the building of Medvedgrad. Encouraged by Pope Innocent IV, Philip Türje, bishop of Zagreb, built the fortress between 1249 and 1254. It was later owned by bans of Slavonia. Notable Croatian and Hungarian poet and ban of Slavonia Janus Pannonius (Ivan Česmički) died in the Medvedgrad castle on March 27, 1472.
The last Medvedgrad owners and inhabitants was the Gregorijanec family, who gained possession of Medvedgrad in 1562. In 1574, the walls of Medvedgrad were reinforced, but after the 1590 Neulengbach earthquake, the fortress was heavily damaged and ultimately abandoned. It remained in ruins until the late 20th century, when it was partly restored and now offers a panoramic view of the city from an altitude of over 500 meters.