Abbey Villers in Wallonia Belgium

By alison - February 9, 2011 (Updated: January 5, 2016)

The Cistercian Church at Abbey Villers

The Cistercian Church at Abbey Villers

Andrew and I are always on the look-out for beautiful day-trips from Brussels. For Andrew, highlights must include winding roads and ruins to explore. For me, the criteria are picturesque scenes to photograph and a garden to stroll through. At Villers Abbey (abbaye de Villers in French), in Villers-la-Ville, we found everything we were both looking for.

Belgium is famous for its abbeys, particularly those producing some of the many Belgian beers and cheeses. Unfortunately, Villers Abbey no longer has either, but there are crumbling ruins to explore and a lovely medicinal garden to wander through.

Villers Abbey was established in 1146 by a dozen  Cistercian monks and, in the 13th century, came under the protection of the Dukes of Brabant. Most of the buildings date from this time. At its peak, there were roughly 100 monks and 300 Brothers living within the abbey walls.

In the 16th century, the abbey’s fortunes changed and hard times set in, when the Spanish attacked in 1544. The abbey’s wealth continued to diminish until it was finally abandoned after the French Revolution.

In 1893, the Belgian government purchased Villers Abbey and began conserving and restoring the site.

Villers Abbey, Wallonia, Belgium

Villers Abbey, Wallonia, Belgium

These days you can explore the numerous outbuildings of the abbey: the cloister, refectory, kitchens, dormitories, and brewing house. The most stunning ruins however are the remains of the Cistercian church.

The Cistercian Church at Abbey Villers

A boy for scale – Insides the Church

The restored medicinal garden was my favourite part of the visit. It is easy to picture the monks working and meditating beside the trickling fountain. It is also possible to see the ancient vineyard on the opposite side of the railway tracks.

Medicinal Garden, Villers Abbey, Wallonia, Belgium

The Medicinal Garden at Abbey, Villers

Despite being a sunny Saturday when we visited, Abbey Villers was relatively quiet and is a lovely spot for an afternoon picnic. The grounds are shaded and well tended as well as peaceful.

Villers Abbey, Wallonia, Belgium

Inside the arched passageway in Abbey Villers

You can easily pair a visit to Villers Abbey with an exploratory road-trip through some of the picturesque winding roads in Wallonia. Or, take a stroll through Villers-la-Ville and grab a beer at one of the cafes.

Admission: 5 euro for adults

Opening times
1st November – 31st October: 10:00 – 17:00 hrs (closed on Tuesdays)
1st April – 31st October: 10:00 – 18:00 hrs
Annual closing: December 24, December 25, December 31 and January 1.

Abbey Villers
Rue de l’Abbaye, 55
B-1495 Villers-la-Ville – Belgique

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Big Cheese at CheeseWeb
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
I loved my time in Riga, Latvia a few years ago and Adi's post takes me right back. It's a European travel... - 8 hours ago


  1. Comment by Andrew


    Andrew February 9, 2011 at 11:01

    It’s a wonderful spot… definitely a picnic location if a nice day! Probably a nice cycling destination too if you are into that sort of thing 🙂

    • Comment by Alison


      Alison February 9, 2011 at 16:59

      Yes.. you’re so into cycling 😉

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  3. Comment by cathy

    cathy February 9, 2011 at 16:32

    Your day trip highlight sounds just like ours! Especially the winding roads for the boys. Wow you did have a beautiful day. Looks like a great place to visit. I will add it to our day trip options. Thanks & Cheers.

    • Comment by Alison


      Alison February 9, 2011 at 17:00

      You guys would like it I think. It’s a pretty spot.

  4. Comment by Louise

    Louise February 10, 2011 at 12:42

    It’s a wonderful place not fare from us. The kids love it too. It’s great for picnic and climbing old stones 🙂

    • Comment by Alison


      Alison February 10, 2011 at 13:07

      Great for kids and husbands 😉

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