Thursday, December 29, 2016

BELGIUM 2016: Two Abbeys

Not that we planned it, mind you, but we really did see two Christmas markets, two basilicas, and two abbeys on our trip to Leuven, Belgium, a month ago.  All in the space of 5 days.

There are actually 4 abbeys in Leuven and, after some wee research, we picked one of them to visit.  While there, we discovered nothing was open for visitors but were directed to another one 33 km away.  That's how we ended up visiting two!

1.  Park Abbey, Leuven, Belgium, founded in 1129.

We chose Park Abbey because of its 104 acres of "contemplation, tranquility, and silence."
In fact, we first walked around the complex, viewing the abbey from across the fish pond.

It was a frosty, nippy morning, perfect for "contemplation, tranquility, and silence."

The entrance into the abbey complex is an invitation.

St. Norbert's Gate, next to the cemetery, beckoned us towards the church...

which rises above the complex...but, sadly, which wasn't open that day.

So, because we love cemeteries, we chose not to be disappointed.

We learn a lot about a people and culture by wandering their cemeteries.

65% of Belgium is Christian, with 58% of them Roman Catholic.
"Holy Mary, Mother of God."

It was after the cemetery when we met the lady who told us about another abbey we'd surely like 
which has a lovely café and gift shop, only 33 km. away.  So off we went.

2.  Averbode Abbey, Diest, Belgium, founded in 1134.

From where we parked, we had to walk through a lovely forest to reach the abbey. 
It really was a day for "contemplation, tranquility, and silence."

Another entrance...another invitation.

And once inside the complex, there was the church, finished in 1672!

I always wonder what my preacher dad would think if this were his parish,
complete with sundial.

This time the church was open.

And as so often happens, we had to pass through the choir to reach the altar.
If you ever sang in the church choir (as I did), can you imagine singing here?
My mother was my church choir I wonder what she would think of this.

Or having two organs for accompaniment (both of which she could play, I'm sure)?

Impressions.  Impressions.  Impressions.

We even spotted a trompe-lóeil painting (top-left).

After the church (no cemetery was visible but surely there was one?), 
were walked outside the complex around the perimeter to find the gift shop and café.
But it was not our day for that because it was Monday, and both were closed.

However, we still got the best of both worlds at two different abbeys in Belgium:
a cemetery and an abbey church.  What more could we possibly need!


  1. I never get tired of seeing these wonderful abbeys. The one in Averbode we had all for our self and nobody there. The architecture is amazing. Too bad the abbey shop was closed, I would not have mind a good abbey beer... Fabulous pictures of a wonderful day. IHJV.

    1. I love how we allowed the day to flow as it did, without sticking to something set in stone. I didn't include the images of our fabulous meal at the Fox restaurant nearby, but that might have been better than the abbey café? :)

  2. Good things come in twos :).

    I really am salivating at these images and of your NL photos. I must really start planning on going there.

    Hope you both have a healthy and peaceful 2017. Cheers to more wonderful images to share!

    1. Thank you, Maria. Double the pleasure, double the fun! Not a bad way to see Life. :) And yes, one day you will eventually see this part of the world. I'm sure of it!

  3. You really love the churches, abbeys and cemeteries! I love them too, especially the cemeteries.always someting fascinating to see! Great photos!

  4. What gorgeous always capture them perfectly! Wishing you both a very Happy New Year my friends!

    1. Thank you and thank you, dear Donna. Let's remain hopeful and full of love.

  5. much experienced! Love that you two take in as much as possible. Here's to many more adventures in 2017!

    1. So much, indeed, Robin. There is SO MUCH to see and experience all around us. We're still at the tip of the iceberg, I think!!! Thank you for following us like you you know we also follow YOU! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  6. So very beautiful! The settings, the season, all of it. It is humbling how much grand effort and expense was spent on churches. At least they are they for us to enjoy.

    I love love love how you "chose not to be disappointed." I'd say that about sums up your perspective. :)

    1. I sometimes don't know how to react/respond to these churches, Ruth, esp. the Roman Catholic ones. The way I've gotten around "judging" them is to see them as museums, if that makes sense???

      Anyway, thank you for your comment about perspective. That means more than I can say....

  7. wow!! those churches are amaaaazing... i especially love the soft white ceiling and it's intricate design... thanks for sharing, sister!! you see them as museums? i guess that's appropriate for Catholic splendor...

    1. Totally amazing, yes, Elaine. If it doesn't offend you and your upbringing, yes, I see them as museums. Some come close to places of worship, which makes them special.

  8. i commented under the wrong title, does that matter? lol the pictures are still lovely!!

    1. No, it doesn't matter to ME, because I know who you are...but thanks anyway! :)