Few of you will have heard of a Belgian town called Villers-la-Ville, just south of Brussels. This little town in the province of Walloon Brabant is home to an impressive collection of ruined abbey buildings.
This abbey used to be one of the most significant Cisterian abbeys in Europe from the mid-12th century to the end of the 18th century when it was abandoned.
The Abbey Ruins of Villers-la-ville Belgium
Villers Abbey, or Abbaye de Villers in French, was founded in 1146 by one abbot, five lay brothers and twelve monks. This first abbey is now known as Villers I. Villers II was established only a few months later, when the monks moved the abbey to a place lower in the valley.
In the late-13th century, Villers Abbey was completely rebuilt. Villers III expanded gradually and eventually consisted of several buildings, including a massive church, workshops, a pharmacy, a kitchen and a hotel where pilgrims and other traveler were fed and could spend the night. At one point, Villers Abbey is thought to have been home to about 100 monks and 300 lay brothers.
Villers-la-Ville, a Historic Highlight
After being purchased by the Belgian state in 1893, the restoration of the complex of ruins was initiated. Today, many of the abbey’s original buildings have been beautifully restored and can be visited.
The 850-year-old Villers Abbey provides an insight into the life of Cisterian monks from the late Middle Ages up to the French Revolution.
The abbey ruins of Villers-la-ville are open to the public throughout the year and tickets cost 6 euros for adults.
A map is provided for free upon entry and a self-guided visit takes approximately 1.5 hours.
Visitors are invited to use the onsite picnic tables, or enjoy lunch and one or two local Belgian beers at La Cave du Moulin Restaurant that is located across the street from the entrance, or at Le Chalet de Forêt, which is a short stroll away.