Orval Abbey

Florenville, Belgium

Orval Abbey is a Cistercian monastery founded in 1132. The abbey is well known for its history and spiritual life but also for its local production of the Trappist beer Orval and a specific cheese.

The site has been occupied since the Merovingian period, and there is evidence that there was already a chapel here in the 10th century. In 1070, a group of Benedictine monks from Calabria settled here, at the invitation of Arnould, Count of Chiny, and began construction of a church and a monastery, but after some forty years, possibly because of the death of Count Arnould, they moved away again. They were replaced by a community of Canons Regular, who completed the construction work: the abbey church was consecrated on 30 September 1124.

In 1132, a group of Cistercian monks from Trois-Fontaines Abbey in Champagne arrived, and the two groups formed a single community within the Cistercian Order, under the first abbot, Constantin. Around 1252, the monastery was destroyed by a fire; the rebuilding took around 100 years.

During the 15th and 16th centuries, the various wars between France and various neighbouring regions (Burgundy, Spain) had an important impact on Orval. At one stage a foundry was established on the site. In 1637, during the Thirty Years' War, the abbey was pillaged and burnt by French mercenaries.

In the 17th century, the abbey converted to the Trappist branch of the Cistercian order, but reverted to the Rule of the main order in around 1785. In 1793, during the French Revolution, the abbey was completely burnt down by French forces, in retaliation for the hospitality it had provided to Austrian troops, and the community dispersed.

In 1887, the land and ruins were acquired by the Harenne family. They donated the lands to the Cistercian order in 1926 so that monastic life could resume on the site. Between 1926 and 1948, under the direction of the Trappist monk Marie-Albert van der Cruyssen, the new monastery was constructed, and in 1935 Orval regained the rank of abbey. On 8 September 1948, the new church was consecrated.



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Founded: 1132
Category: Religious sites in Belgium

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Kurt Bourscheid (2 years ago)
Such a beautiful monastery. Apart from it's amazing architecture and history, they brew one of the best beers of Belgium. A nice place to visit with the family and to buy a few boxes of beer on the way out (they come with an awesome glass).
Chiel Groeneveld (Nevele) (2 years ago)
This was much more of an experience than first imagined. The self-guided tour through the history, ruins and museum of the Abbey are incredible. And grabbing some Orval Cheese and beer at the end was just icing on the cake.
mila zverkhovskaya (2 years ago)
Highly recommended as a day trip for a couple/family. Lovely peaceful place where the only noise your hear is birds singing. Traveling though time and discovering it’s history was so interesting and definitely Makes you feel like home! Loved the digital museum part as well as the brewery museum! Price of 7€ per person is totally worth it! Food in a nervy local tavern is beyond good. Amazing price/quality! Friendly staff and really good memories! 5 starts!
Richard Poppelaars (2 years ago)
The Abbaye d'Orval really is the "Versailles of the monasteries", especially for photography a perfect location in almost any type of weather. The old ruins of the original church surrounded by large grounds and abbey garden are very impressive. The remains of the rich architecture can still be seen, with rows of wide columns, arches, thick walls providing many beautiful views. My preference for photographing this site is a less sunny day, with no hard shadows and some clouds in the sky it's easy to capture some very nice photos. The site itself is nearly 1000 years old and over the centuries the original church was destroyed a few times, finally in 1793 by French revolutionary troops. The current more recent abbey and new church cannot be visited, and still a noticeable peaceful place of devotion. The abbey is still in use and well known for its history and spiritual life. It's even more famous for its local production of the best Trappist beer in Belgium named Orval and a specific abbey cheese. Both an extra reason to enjoy a visit to this abbey.
Theodore A. Klouvas (3 years ago)
Nice area! The places you can visit in the monastery are limited but it is nice to see. however I missed a bit the ambience and originality of the place. It seems that there is a bigger focus on the money making part of the company than the heritage & history of the abbey. The tasting area/ restaurant of the Trappist beer ORVal ? could have been a simple restaurant on a highway. That was disappointing lacking any type of character!
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