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.

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Founded: 1217
Category: Religious sites in Belgium

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4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Antonio Fernandez (16 months ago)
Amazing place : some kind of magic, charmed, special and very nice ... To visit !!!
Kaliel Aeolian (16 months 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 (17 months 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 (17 months 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 (18 months 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.
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