© iStock/Thomas De Wever
© iStock/Thomas De Wever

Villers Abbey, a sip of romanticism in the heart of Wallonia

4 minutes to read

As the warmer months approach, everybody feels the necessity to spend more time in nature and visit as many new and intriguing places as possible. In the months between April and October, Belgium is extremely picturesque and colorful. The trees and the flowers are in bloom, it smells everywhere of freshly cut grass, and each meadow teases you to have an impromptu picnic. Such a romantic-poetic region turns out to be the municipality Villers-la-Ville and its biggest pride, the splendid Villes Abbey – a sip of romanticism in the heart of Wallonia.

Villers-la-Ville

The Villers-la-Ville municipality nestles in the middle of the Belgian province of Walloon Brabant. Not far from Waterloo, the little village and its surroundings offer a multitude of hiking and cycling paths or possibilities horse ridings. This also happens to be the most recommended place in Belgium for golf playing or balloon flying. It is a perfect nook for long lovey-dovey promenades in the wild or an escape from the hectic daily life. Pack your backpacks, put on your hiking shoes and explore the greenwood!

© iStock/kotangens
© iStock/kotangens

Villers Abbaye - a real hidden gem

© iStock/bbsferrari
© iStock/bbsferrari

Abbaye de Villers is a wonderful site to visit and get in touch with the history of Belgium. This beautiful abbey and its grounds are much larger and more impressive than you can assume from photos. It is an astonishing place with special energy, equally magnificent in every season with plenty of wildlife. This environment is perfect for symphony concerts and light shows, which are often organized here. No wonder that the shooting of one of the seasons of “Sense8” took place here. In this sacred magical place, everyone will find something unique to keep and take home.

© Alexander Ivanchev
© Alexander Ivanchev
Villers Abbey, Villers-la-Ville
Villers Abbey, Villers-la-Ville
Rue de l'Abbaye 55, 1495 Villers-la-Ville, Belgium

What a history

© iStock/Thomas De Wever
© iStock/Thomas De Wever

The Villers Abbey was founded in 1146 on grounds spanning over 36 hectares by 12 Cistercian monks and 3 lay brothers from Clairvaux. Subsequently, it was abandoned in 1796.  The abbey is considered one of the most prestigious testimonies of the life of the monks of the Order of the Cistercians. Its 850 years of history, rises and falls, have resulted in a unique location, impressive even for the most demanding visitors.  

© iStock/boerescul
© iStock/boerescul

The abbey was built exclusively with materials from the area – wood and stone. Only local craftsmen were hired for the job. The idea was to save money and time. Even the glassmaker agreed to create the unique stained glass for free.

© Alexander Ivanchev
© Alexander Ivanchev

The period between the 12th and 13th century was the “âge d'or”, or the golden age of the abbey. Founded on land donated by the Count of Marbais, the building's construction was completed at the end of the 13th century, while meanwhile, the monks were working hard to influence the folk and spread the word of God. But later, through the ages, the Villers Abbey witnessed battles, internal conflicts, lack of funds, bankruptcy, blazes and ruin. Left to the arbitrariness of fate and the mercy of nature, the abbey fell apart irrevocably. It is a pity that no one has taken care of this spiritual place for so long, the last abode of the mortal remains of many historical greats such as Henry II, Duke of Brabant or Sophie of Thuringie. And when funds were finally found, all that was left of the abbey were ruins covered with graffiti by unscrupulous visitors.

© Alexander Ivanchev
© Alexander Ivanchev

Today, the Villers Abbey experiences another “âge d’or”. It currently attracts over 40,000 visitors a year, raising more than 100,000 euro through events and partnerships. The permanent exhibition of the famous Belgian sculptor Jean-Michel Folon is another major reason for the numerous guests. His original bronze sculptures are scattered in key places throughout the domain and are an inspiration for many professional and non-professional photographers, artists and influencers.

© Alexander Ivanchev
© Alexander Ivanchev

The splendid Villers Abbey and the area around are a wonderful place for a walk, only a step away from Brussels. It is a sip of romanticism with a touch of history in the heart of Wallonia. Everyone deserves such an unforgettable experience, a leap back in time and a pinch of spiritual enrichment out there, in the vastness of nature.

© iStock/Thomas De Wever
© iStock/Thomas De Wever

The author

Desislava Krsteva

Desislava Krsteva

Hi there, my name is Desi. I am an actress, a traveller, and a storyteller. I have always been passionate about discovering new cultures and charming places all over the globe. On itinari, I will make you discover some of the beautiful places in Belgium.

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