Abdijkerk Aduard

The former infirmary in Aduard is the only remaining building of the giant St. Bernard Abbey in Aduard, one of the largest monasteries in Europe in the Middle Ages. The Romano-Gothic building was built in the 13th century and originally served as the monastery's infirmary. Later, the infirmary was used as a church. Today it is part of the adjacent Monastery Museum.



Year built

Early 14th century

Building Style



Abbot Henricus I

Original function


Special feature

Only remaining building of St. Bernard Abbey

Owned by Monumentenbezit

Since 2016

Wheelchair accessible


Visitor information

The current Abbey Church is part of the adjacent Monastery Museum. A 3D digital reconstruction via an app brings the abbey complex back to life and allows you to virtually walk through the monastery.

Visiting address:

Burgemeester Seinenstraat 42, 9831 PX Aduard

Aduard Abbey was founded by monks of the Frisian Cistercian abbey of Klaarkamp near the Frisian village of Rinsumageest. This abbey, in turn, was a daughter monastery of the French abbey of Clairveux. Saint Bernard Abbey was therefore dedicated to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). Cistercians sought a return to the origins of monastic life. They rejected exploitation of land. Instead, they allowed lay brothers to work the land. Lay friars lived by monastic rules but had not taken monastic vows.

The lay brothers lived separately from the monks, but in the same monastic complex. An infirmary had been built for the monks under Abbot Henricus (1292-1301). The lay friars also needed an infirmary. According to tradition, the former infirmary was built in six weeks.

Aduard Abbey grew into one of the most famous and wealthy Cistercian abbeys in northwestern Europe. At its peak, the abbey owned over 10,000 acres of land. The monastery school taught liberal arts and canon law. From all over northern Europe, important scholars traveled to Aduard. The monks also devoted themselves to reclamation and drainage of the area around the monastery.

The abbey did not survive the war troubles of the 16th century. In 1580, the Beggars' army reached Aduard and the monastery complex was largely lost to fire. The stones were used by local residents to build farms and residential houses. Only the infirmary for the lay brothers came out of the battle relatively unscathed.

After the Catholic city of Groningen was conquered in 1594, the infirmary was converted into a Protestant church and school with master's house. Four years later, this building was given a "monumentum antiquitatis"; what we now see as a precursor to monument status. The States of the City and Ommelanden of Groningen determined that this building should be preserved, even if it received another function. Thanks to this early redesignation, this unique example of a Cistercian infirmary has been preserved, the oldest surviving building with a medical function in the Netherlands.

After the school left the building at the beginning of the twentieth century, that part came into the possession of the municipality of Aduard. The congregation transferred it to the State in 1907. The Reformed Congregation followed suit in 1909, on the condition that they could continue to use it as a church building. Today, the building is still used by the Protestant Church in the Netherlands.

The former infirmary is the only remaining building of St. Bernard Abbey in Aduard. It consists of a rectangular brick hall building built under a gable roof in the so-called Romano-Gothic style. It is characterized by varied ornamental brickwork, wall articulation and round bars around windows. On the west facade is a tower element with a historic clock and a swinging bell.

The monument was modified over the centuries. For example, around 1720 the church area was decorated as a family chapel by order of Evert Joost Lewe of Aduard. And around 1850 the exterior was modernized in neo-Gothic style.

At the beginning of the 20th century, it became clear that a major restoration of the church building was necessary. This restoration was carried out between 1917 and 1928 by Hendrik van Heeswijk, who was an architect associated with the National Building Service. The architecture was restored and partially brought back. Before this restoration, the original function of the church building was not clear. However, the restoration brought to light the rich original tiled floor. This tiled floor with decorative patterns is characteristic of Cistercian architecture from around 1300. Its presence indicates a representative and partly sacred function, appropriate to a hospital ward for lay brothers. The floor has been reinstalled in the western part of the church.

Since 2016, the monument has been owned by Monumentenbezit.

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