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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User Reviews

Lenka Csandová (11 months ago)
Ruins of an abbey with nice gardens. Nice place for a trip to spend there half a day. We made it quick - it took us 1,5 hour. The mobile application didn't work for us, but there are also some panels with text if the app doesn't work for you. Entrance fee is 9€ for adults, parking is free.
marius radu (12 months ago)
Lovely gardens, relaxing walks. The kids loved playing in the underground passages. If you want to take advantage of everything, plan to be there for the whole day. A lot to read about everything + extra information online - you just need to scan a QR code. We didn't do it so I cannot comment on this. Bring a picnic or snacks or wait until you finish the visit - there's a restaurant once you get out. Teachers get free entrance.
Dima Kravtsov (13 months ago)
Super photogenic place to spend few hours! Even more, it's allowed to enter with a dog, they even provide a bowl with water for dogs at both entrances and allow to enter their super friendly restaurant in the main building with dogs. Across the street there is a spacious parking, which supposed to be free of charge. At least nobody asked to pay ?.
MLVC CN (16 months ago)
A worthy trip out of the city center. This ruins is well taken care of and it is worth the price of the visit. On the entrance area, you'll find a long history carved in steel which leads to the ruins. During our visit, there was some photo exposition around the area. Some areas were on maintenance but the main areas are really amazing with some explanations as to what were the Chambers and rooms were before. It's a must see in the Wallonie region.
Bruno van de Werve (17 months ago)
Really nice walk back in time and in plain nature. We loved the fact that the place is still very raw and authentic. Dont expect typical flashy touristic features and infrastructure! Hope it stays that way ?
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