Maagdendale Abbey

This brightly-coloured building is the abbeyhouse, which was built in 1663. The combination of the red limed sandstone facade with white window frames gives it a playful appearance. The two arched doors with beautiful Baroque frames and sculpture are definitely worth having a closer look. This recent addition forms the entrance to an immense complex, founded in 1233 by the Order of the Cistercians. It was one of Flanders’ most important women’s abbeys. The oldest remnant is the 13th-century abbey church. The gatehouse dating from 1621 is also still standing, despite being bombed during the French Revolution.

The convent was handed over to the Belgian government in 1826 and was turned into a military base, which caused a surge of cafés popping up in the neighbourhood. In 1966, the barracks and booming nightlife were no more.
Nowadays, the students of the Royal Academy of Visual Arts roam the corridors and history buffs peruse our city archives that have found a fitting home in this centuries-old building.