During my Erasmus in Louvain-la-Neuve, I often took the train to the airport in Charleroi. At one point, I was always enjoying a nice view of a destroyed church, a place that looked abandoned but at the same time magical and inviting for a visit. Since then, I’ve always wanted to visit this site but you know it, sometimes it takes more time to finally get to see things in your surroundings than places that are (thousands of) miles away from your home… And so there we finally are, visiting the Villers Abbey one August weekend, 10 years after my Erasmus!
It all started back in 1146 when17 monks came here from France to found a Roman abbey. Later at the end of the 12th century, they built a Gothic church here and in the 18th century, the whole complex was rebuilt in neoclassicist style. In 1796, during the French revolution, the monks left the Villers Abbey which consequently turned into ruins. It is considered as one of the most important Cistercian abbeys of its time in Europe. Nowadays, the site is open to visitors and is one of the largest archeological complexes in Wallonia.
Villers Abbey is one of the most beautiful places I have been to in Wallonia. Once here, it feels serene and peaceful, almost magical! In 5 different gardens, you can walk through the ruins, always finding spots full of tranquility, shadows but also places exposed to full sun. In the morning and evening hours, you can enjoy the play of light and shadow. It is a great place for a picnic or meditation, you can always find a hidden spot!
You will find it in Wallonia (French-speaking part of Belgium), in a town called Villers-la-Ville. It is open all year long from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., during summer months until 6 p.m. The entrance fee is 9 euros per adult and 4 euros per children (6-12)*. You can get easily here from Brussels by car, there is free parking for visitors. Or by train (direction Ottignies) and then walk of 2 km.
*You can find actual practical information on the official website. And don’t forget to check out the agenda for various cultural events going on here! Here below are some pictures we took during our visit as a little tasting!