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Villers Abbey

Villers Abbey

Ruins of Villers Abbey

In the valley of the River Thyle, a group of monks came together in 1146 to build the Villers Abbey.

Hundreds of monks spent their days in the Cistercian abbey for centuries, although it was not always smooth sailing.

Over the course of the 16th century, they had to flee several times, for example, when Spanish troops plundered the complex. The monks were not deterred: they kept coming back and picking up the thread again.

French revolution

The final blow came on December 11, 1796, when French troops knocked on the abbey's gate and expelled the monks.

The abbey was sold by public auction and came into the possession of a building materials dealer, who bought all the wood and stones he could recover here. In short, the abbey crumbled into one of the most beautiful ruins in Belgium.

Abbey Church

The abbey church is the most impressive reminder, no less than 91 meters long and 41 meters wide. In 1197 the monks started building it in Romanesque style, later it was continued in Gothic style. This makes it one of the first Gothic buildings in Belgium.


It was not until 1893 that the building came into the hands of the Belgian state, which halted the decline of the abbey ruins with significant restoration works. At the beginning of the 20th century, the vaults above the choir and the nave bays were finished.

Abbey church towers

The blunted towers flank the entrance gate to the ruins of the abbey church.


Villers Abbey has been an attraction for tourists, painters, draftsmen, writers and poets since the mid-19th century, including French writer Victor Hugo, who visited the ruins three times.


Time has stood still here, until you feel yet another freight or passenger train thundering by. In 1855, the railway between Charleroi and Ottignies was built straight through the domain.

In addition to the abbey church, you can wander through the guest houses and gardens. Goats and geese graze in the former monks' refectory.

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