Villers Abbey (abbaye de Villers) is an ancient Cistercian abbey in Villers-la-Ville. In 1146, 12 Cistercian monks and three lay brothers from Clairvaux came to Villers in order to establish the abbey on land granted them by Gauthier de Marbais. After establishing several preliminary sites, work was finally undertaken in the 13th century to build the current site. The choir was constructed by 1217, the crypt by 1240, and the refectory by 1267. The church itself took 70 years to build and was completed by the end of the century.

During this period, the abbey reached the height of its fame and importance. Contemporary accounts suggest that roughly 100 monks and 300 lay brothers resided within its walls, although this is possibly an exaggeration. The lands attached to the abbey also expanded considerably, reaching some 100 km² of woods, fields, and pasturage.

Decline set in during the 16th century, tied to the larger troubles of the Low Countries. Spanish tercios, during the campaign of 1544, did considerable damage to the church and cloister, both of which were partially restored in 1587.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the abbey's fortunes continued to diminish. The number of monks and the abbey's wealth dwindled, and it was finally abandoned in 1796 in the wake of the French Revolution.

The church, although in ruins, is an outstanding example of Cistercian architecture, with imposing vaulting, arches, and rose windows.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 1217
Category: Religious sites in Belgium

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Antonio Fernandez (2 years ago)
Amazing place : some kind of magic, charmed, special and very nice ... To visit !!!
Kaliel Aeolian (2 years ago)
Beautiful ruins of the ruins of a Cistercian Abbey. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy wandering about the ruins, including the still intact vaulted ceiling over the chapel. The ruins are quite extensive and include children pleasers like the crypt, underground monk cells, and prison (a dungeon, really). There is an augmented reality app that wouldn't download on Android, maybe you'll have better luck with iPhone. Definitely the best ruins I've seen in Belgium! Try the AV Trippel IX, one of the best beers I've had recently.
David Pieters (2 years ago)
Pretty big area. Worth to watch it. Enough to see. Surprises can catch you after every corner from the impressive ruin. Would be amazing if it wasn't a ruin. But you get a Pretty good idea how it was.
Ruvenss G Wilches (2 years ago)
Awesome place; out of ideas for the weekend? Visit this amazing place. It's fully accessible for dogs and handicap people. You can also enjoy a guided visit with a tablet where it will explain everything about that abbaye.other activities like picnics or photoshoot are possible.
Reda Cerniauskaite (2 years ago)
The most stunning monastery from the past. I loved that it is not renovated and is taken partly by the nature. Really impressive place.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Beckov Castle

The Beckov castle stands on a steep 50 m tall rock in the village Beckov. The dominance of the rock and impression of invincibility it gaves, challenged our ancestors to make use of these assets. The result is a remarkable harmony between the natural setting and architecture.

The castle first mentioned in 1200 was originally owned by the King and later, at the end of the 13th century it fell in hands of Matúš Èák. Its owners alternated - at the end of the 14th century the family of Stibor of Stiborice bought it.

The next owners, the Bánffys who adapted the Gothic castle to the Renaissance residence, improved its fortifications preventing the Turks from conquering it at the end of the 16th century. When Bánffys died out, the castle was owned by several noble families. It fell in decay after fire in 1729.

The history of the castle is the subject of different legends. One of them narrates the origin of the name of castle derived from that of jester Becko for whom the Duke Stibor had the castle built.

Another legend has it that the lord of the castle had his servant thrown down from the rock because he protected his child from the lords favourite dog. Before his death, the servant pronounced a curse saying that they would meet in a year and days time, and indeed precisely after that time the lord was bitten by a snake and fell down to the same abyss.

The well-conserved ruins of the castle, now the National Cultural Monument, are frequently visited by tourists, above all in July when the castle festival takes place. The former Ambro curia situated below the castle now shelters the exhibition of the local history.