Abbey site Herkenrode

Abdijsite Herkenrode

The abbey site of Herkenrode is a miniature town that is home to more than eight hundred years of history. Herkenrode was the first and largest abbey in Europe for female Cistercians.

In the fertile Demer valley near Hasselt, Gerard I van Loon founded a women's abbey in the 12th century, which was soon to be incorporated into the Order of Cîteaux. According to general Cistercian philosophy, the abbey was fully responsible for its own facilities.

To this day, the abbey site Herkenrode still houses the sisters' quarters, the barns where the supplies were stored, herb gardens and mills. On the site of the former abbey church now stands 'The Quiet View', a work of art by Hans Op de Beeck that lets you experience the silence and serenity of the religious heart of yesteryear.

Herita, the city of Hasselt and numerous other partners invite you to discover the history of the site at the experience center. After your visit you can enjoy a snack and a drink in the former stables.


Activity on the site

Just as in the heyday of the abbey, there is a lot of activity on the site today. In the former farm buildings, you can find the offices and Concept shop of children's book publisher Clavis. In the Herkenrode Belevingscentrum you will find a visitors' center, a catering establishment and a heritage shop.  

The northern wing of the site accommodates supporting functions for the imposing tithe barn, the current banquet hall and event location. 

Abbey site Herkenrode has the necessary infrastructure to accommodate companies and private organizers. The infrastructure lends itself to various activities, from presentations and meetings to team building and exhibitions.  The Poortgebouw, the Abbey Mill and the Tuiltermolen are dream locations for such activities. 

The Tuiltermolen is the operating base of Herkenrode vzw and Arktos vzw. This vzw gives young people with behavioral problems a meaningful daytime activity.

Abdijsite Herkenrode


Not only in the experience center, but also in other places there is something for visitors to experience. The central historical heart of the abbey site, the place where the large abbey church once stood, was given a bold contemporary interpretation. The traces of the grandeur of the church are no longer so easy to discern. Herita has brought this vanished place of reflection and silence back into a contemporary design. Hans Op de Beeck created the work of art 'The Quiet View' here, which only enhances the experience of the abbey site.

Abbey site Herkenrode also functions as a beacon of culture and art in the wider region. The Sage of the Unicorn, the largest public event on the site, attracts many visitors every year. The two mills - the Tuiltermolen and the Abdijmolen - are dedicated to making old techniques better known to the general public. In this way, Herkenrode also plays a role as an introduction point to old techniques. The voluntary millers of 'Molenvrienden Zuid-Limburg' tell visitors passionately about the operation of the newly restored abbey mill.

Walkers and cyclists can enjoy a pleasant break with a snack and drink in the former stables.

As curator of the entire site, Herita maintains relations with all partners and operators and guards the public accessibility and the qualitative experience of the entire site.

Conservation and management

The abbey site and the protected landscape were recognized as Open Heritage in development.

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