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8 Beautiful Abbeys Around the World

A building that is the home of a religious community is known as an Abbey, a reference to the Abbott or Abbess who is in charge of the place.

These buildings have been constructed since the Dark Ages and often feature a church and other religious buildings such as chapels or baptisteries.

There are over 3,600 Catholic abbeys in the world and many have amazing feats of architecture.

In this article, you’ll discover some of the most amazing abbeys from around the world.

1. Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos – Spain

The Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos is a magnificent Benedictine monastery complex in the town of Santo Domingo de Silos. This rural town is situated in the southern part of the Burgos Province in the northern part of Spain.

The abbey is one of the greatest examples of Romanesque architecture in Europe. It was established during the Visigoth period in the 7th century and expanded multiple times over the centuries. The carved reliefs on the pillars are amazing examples of Romanesque art.

Famous Abbeys Santo Domingo de Silos
Santo Domingo de Silos / M. Peinado / Wiki Commons

2. Melk Abbey – Austria

Melk Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in the city of Melk in Lower Austria. It’s a huge complex of buildings that overlook the nearby Danube River. It’s located in an elevated position as well and majestically overlooks the nearby city.

The abbey has a history that goes back to the 11th century but most Baroque buildings that you can admire today were constructed in the 17th century. The abbey has been restored to its former glory between 1978 and 1995 and can easily be referred to as one of the most famous buildings in Austria.

Melk Abbey in Austria
Melk Abbey in Austria / Matthias Kabel / Wiki Commons

3. Sénanque Abbey – France

Sénanque Abbey is a Cistercian abbey that is located near the picturesque village of Gordes in the Vaucluse department of the Provence in Southern France. It was founded in 1148 and became privately owned in the aftermath of the French Revolution in the late 18th century.

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The abbey was repurchased, however, in 1854 and a new community of monks came to live here at that time. These were expelled once again in 1903 but a small community returned in 1988. Today, the abbey can be visited for spiritual retreats and the monks grow lavender which gives the building a particularly beautiful appearance.

Senanque Abbey
S2nanque Abbey /

4. Maria Laach Abbey – Germany

Maria Laach Abbey is another beautiful abbey which is located near the town of Andernach in the Eifel region of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in western Germany. Its name refers to the Laacher See or “Lake Laach,” the lake on which shores it was established.

The robust buildings with their sturdy towers were constructed during the 11th and 12th centuries and are other prime examples of Romanesque architecture. While the church is the most striking feature, the complex consists of a large number of additional buildings in a similar style.

Maria Laach Abbey in Germany
Maria Laach Abbey in Germany / Goldi64 / Wiki Commons

5. Abbey of Saint Catherine – Egypt

The Abbey of Saint Catherine is officially known as the “Sacred Autonomous Royal Monastery of Saint Katherine of the Holy and God-Trodden Mount Sinai.” It’s located on the foot of Mount Sinai, the Biblical mountain which was probably the location where Moses received the Ten Commandments.

The abbey was named after Saint Catherine of Alexandria, a Christian martyr who was killed during the Persecution of Christians in the early 4th century A.D. This remarkable structure was constructed between 548 and 565 which makes it the oldest continuously inhabited monastery in the world.

Abbey of Saint Catherine in Egypt
Abbey of Saint Catherine in Egypt / Joonas Plaan / Wiki Commons

6. Abbey of Monte Cassino – Italy

The Abbey of Monte Cassino is located on top of a hill about 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of Rome. It overlooks the town of Cassino in the province of Frosinone in Southern Italy and does so from an elevation of about 520 meters (1,710 feet) above sea level.

This is the place where the first Benedictine monastery was established in the year 529 A.D. by Benedict of Nursia after which the order was named. The abbey has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times throughout its history and had the be rebuilt in the 20th century following the devastation of World War II.

Abbey of Monte Cassino in Italy
Abbey of Monte Cassino in Italy / Ludmiła Pilecka / Wiki Commons

7. Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani – United States

Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani is a Catholic monastery that is located near the town of Bardstown in Nelson County of the U.S. state of Kentucky. It’s another Cistercian monastery that was established in the year 1848 before being dedicated as an abbey in 1851.

This abbey of the Trappists is the oldest of its kind in the United States and is still operating today. The monks who live here operate a farm that covers an area of about 810 hectares (2,000 acres) and support themselves by selling their products in their stores.

Gethsemani Abbey entrance
Gethsemani Abbey entrance / Reik Eckel / Wiki Commons

8. Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey – Spain

Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey is one of the most famous abbeys in the world and that’s mainly because it was constructed on the flanks of the Montserrat mountain. It’s located just near the town of Monistrol de Montserrat in the Catalonia region of Spain.

The original version of the abbey was constructed in the 11th century to house the shrine of the Virgin of Montserrat. The building was completely rebuilt in the 19th and 20th centuries and still houses a community of monks. It’s also a popular tourist attraction that is bustling with people during the Summer months.

Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey in Spain
Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey in Spain / Jorge Franganillo / Wiki Commons