Abbaye de Villers


Nestled in a pretty wooded dell are these extensive, ivy-clad ruins. Once one of Belgium’s biggest monastic complexes, Villers was never rebuilt after the destructive onslaught of 1794, when, in the post–French Revolution fervour, virtually every such institution was sacked. It's an evocative, peaceful place with its gigantic, shattered church (an atmospheric venue for summer concerts and plays) grassy ruins and cute walled garden. An audioguide (included with admission) helps bring the past to life.

Kids will want to check out the tablet (€5) that transforms the wander through the abbey ruins into a mystery-solving scavenger hunt. Across the road, La Cave du Moulin is mediocre food-wise but ideal for a drink in an old stone-vaulted mill house after you’ve visited the ruins.

Villers-la-Ville is on the Ottignies–Charleroi railway line. The train station is 1.6km south of the ruins.

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