- Museum or Interpretation Centre
- Architectural heritage
- Religious heritage
Villers Abbey, built in 1146, now in ruins is a stunning witness of how the Cistercian Monks lived. The site is considered one of the most complete in Europe as it features remains of all the buildings used daily.
This extensive monastic complex constructed in the 13th century is an evocative memorial to the small Cistercian community which initially settled here in 1146. Within two centuries of its founding, the monastery had become a wealthy landowner with more than three thousand brothers, 100 monks and an abbot running a large estate of more than 100 square kilometres.
Ransacked in the French revolution and allowed to fall into disrepair over the following two centuries a walk through the lofty walls and arches surviving today gives a vivid insight into abbey life over the centuries. From the chauffoir, where the chimney of the only room kept warm all year is still standing, to the impressive cloisters of the church and the transept, the sheer size of the complex cannot fail to impress.
Outside the walls, the square garden which reflects the Cistercian ideals of order and balance is bordered by high chestnut trees and was used by the monks to supply vegetables for their table. Beyond, a less formal area was used to cultivate medicinal plants. The ruins lie in a pretty wooded valley and there are themed-based guided visits or discovery walks around the Abbey and its lands available for visitors. Every year in August an international choir festival takes place in its floodlit ruins.
Conclude your visit with stopping at the abbey's microbrewery and vineyard.
At the heart of the ruins are 8 fantastic gardens:
- The Jardin des Simples (inspired by the medicinal garden used by monk in Middle Ages)
- The Jardin des Moines (a modern medicinal garden)
- The Jardin de l'Abbé (a French style garden)
- The Jardin de la Pharmacie (a 10 acres ornamental garden on the hill)
- The Jardin des Senteurs and its meditative path (follow this scented path all the way to the Saint-Bernard chapel).
- The ancient rose gardens
- The experimental and conservatory orchard
- The fruit growing orchard
Picnic tables are arranged around the site but you can also indulge at the Bistro de l’Abbaye.
Guided tours of the abbey and its gardens are organised (booking required).
An application for your visit
Villers Abbey hass developed a new tool to make your visit easier. Simply scan the QR codes on the information panels to access more data.
The interactive map helps visualise the various parts of the site. Just place your fingertip on one location (church, cloister, cemetery...) and the history unfolds, from the daily life of the monks to stories, anecdotes, videos, podcasts.
Thanks to a discovery leaflet, roles are reversed: children get a change to guide their parents through the abbey, thanks to a little help from Monk Radulphe and his anecdotes... There too will be challenges and riddles to solves along the way. The trail lasts for about 1h30. 2 €/leaflet.
Why not combine tour visit of the abbey with a little cycling in the area? With the nearby Bois d’Heez, Bois de l’Ermitage, Vallée de la Thyle and 150 km of delightful paths, you are spoilt for choice!
Wallonia has developped Access-i, a network gathering sites offering facilitie and/or services dedicted to Travellers with special needs. Click here to see the details for Villers-la-Ville Abbey.
Animation - Credit cards accepted - Outdoor catering - Indoor catering
Access for PRM (autodeclared) - Lift - Mobility translation booth - Cafe - Garden - Daylight - Shop - Training materials provided - Car parking - Motor Home parking - Cycle rack - Parking - Restaurant - Common bathroom - Terrace
Guide available/groups - German - EN - FR - NL - Audioguide/mobile app/tablet