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The Abbey of Boudelo ... for many a distant and unknown mystery. The legends about underground passages between Lijsdonk, Boudelohoeve and Koudenborm are explored on this site. The whole history is explained and clearly illustrated with maps and photos. Get to know the lost Boudelo abbey beer that was once brewed on the abbey site in Klein-Sinaai and afterwards in Ghent with care and attention to the authentic taste. Reissued by The Musketeers Brewery and promoted by the Genootschap van Boudelo.



Klein-Sinaai is a village near the Dutch border in the Belgian municipality of Stekene in the province of East-Flanders. Until 1976 it was an independent municipality.
In Klein-Sinaai we can find remains of the Abbey of Boudelo which was a cisterciënzer-abbey. This abbey is also known as "Baudeloo" under an older spelling form.
At the beginning of the 13th century a small religious community settled in the barren wilderness of Klein-Sinaai, near Sint-Niklaas in a place that had already been inhabited during far away prehistoric times. Boudewijn van Boekel, a Benedictine monk from the St Pieter’s abbey in Gent, set up a modest monastery that was granted the title of abbey by the Count of Flanders in 1204.
The Boudelo monastery took over the rigid Cistercian rule (1215-1216) and gradually grew into a very well organised farm, due to material help from the Count of Flanders and countless donations.
Initially manuel labour occupied a major place in the daily life of the monks, as they were living according tot he ascetic ideal of their order. But soon they passed on these duties to lay brothers who would do this job until circumstances made them leave the domain. The limited number of lay brothers was a result of an incident in 1226. In that year the abbot of Boudelo, Theodoricus, was murdered by a lay brother. The Chapter General of the Order of Cîteaux then decided that the number of converses in Boudelo should be limited to a maximum of five.  

By 1236 there were 15. Because of this, the direct exploitation of the Boudelo property – in the meantime centred around three main places, the grangriae or exterior farms in Otene and Lamswaarde in Zeeland and the land around the abbey itself – became less significant in the second half of the thirteenth century. It was replaced  by a well controlled system of lease, hereditary tenure and taxes introduced by the abbey throughout its large landownership of more than two thousand acres.
From the very beginning of the rise of the cities the monks had taken the side of the Count of Flanders. This was the reason why the buildings were devastated twice by the citizens of Gent, namely in 1381 and 1382. The ecclesiastical schism at the end of the same age caused such a discord in Flanders that the abbot of Boudelo had to flee. The financial and material chaos was completed when the abbey suffered further misfortune because of heavy floods which in the beginning of the fifteenth century swept across the domain, starting from De Braakman, an arm of the mighty Schelde, and because of the looting in 1452 brought about by the quarrels between Duke Filips de Goede and the city of Gent.
As a consequence it was only after 1460 that a new prime broke fort he abbey, lasting till 1578 and only interrupted by new floods and a financial débâcle at the beginning of the sixteenth century. It was indeed in 1578 that the Sinaai monastery was thoroughly plundered by Calvinists from Gent.
Abt Del RioKunstwerk Abt Duermael en monniken In 1584, after Duke Alexander Farnese had restored order in the region of Gent and in Het Land van Waas, the monks of Boudelo, under the leadership of their abbot Jacob del Rio, decided to move from the Sinaai monastery, which had already been partly dismantled, and to settle in their house of refuge along the Ottogracht in Gent. This refuge was entitled the name abbey in 1602 and this was the outset of the triumphant rise of the Boudelo monastery: structures of the abbey were rebuilt and embellished and a brandnew abbot’s house with magnificent seventeenth-century ornaments was already left in the eighteenth century for an even more splendid place of residence at the Steendam. Meanwhile the chapel as well as the monastery buildings were decorated  in a very rich way with paintings, tapestry, bronze and stone sculpture, whereas within the walls of the abbey itself the monks revived the art of the written word, especially the prose and poetry edited for the festivities in commemoration of St Bernard.
The French occupation put an abrupt end to this unprecendented abundance and unrestrained joy of living by the Boudelo Cistercians. Although they obviously had abandoned the ideal of poverty, they were never blind to the needs of the paupers among whom they were living: every person in search of relief and support was familiar with the Gate of Boudelo.
On 31 October 1797 the monks were driven from the monastery manu militari and the whole abbeycomplex was given another destination. The old buildings along the Ottogracht were used for the Ecole Centrale, then, under Dutch government, they housed the royal College and later in the Belgian Kingdom, they became the current Koninklijk Atheneum. The abbey yard was turned into a splendid botanical garden, a meeting place for the city’s ‘beau monde’. The church, which under French rule had been at first a Temple of Reason and then the library of the Schelde County, was used by the Dutch as city library and later on also as the university of Gent library till the Boekentoren was put up in the first half of the twentieth century. The abbot’s house at the Steendam, used as the official residence of the Bishop of Gent between 1806 and 1845, was transformed into a secondary school. During the years extensions have been added, but the school is still there.

In the "cultuurhistorisch museum" in Sint-Niklaas several archeologic finds of the Boudelo-abbey are on display.
Traces of the former abbey at the site in Gent can still be found in several buildings, whereas in Klein-Sinaai the remainders of the abbey were cleared away after a last thorough archaeological study, and have been replaced by a modern residential area.






Nearby is the abbey farm from 1660 that was built with remains of the abbey.





A monument commemorates the place where the abbey wall once stood.






There are many information boards around the site that explain the history.
Close by there is the Fondation of Boudelo. A beautiful and extensive nature reserve with forests and meadows.






In 2011-2012, excavations were carried out with new sensor techniques.


Unknown buildings came into the picture. This project received international attention from the scientist press.
(Source: De Wase en Gentse Boudelo-abdij – Paul Pas)

A medieval monastery in Belgium went to major effort to drain wetlands on its land, building structures on artificially raised soil, a new study finds.

Archaeologists excavated the Boudelo Abbey, once part of the medieval county of Flanders, in the 1970s. Until now, however, they had no idea that an extensive drained wetland surrounded the site.

"They placed these abbeys in all sorts of marginal areas to cultivate," said study researcher Philippe De Smedt, a soil scientist at Ghent University in Belgium. In the High Middle Ages between the 12th and 14th centuries, Europe's population was growing, De Smedt told LiveScience. Monk labor provided a solution to the crowding by making the land livable.
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"The former rulers of Flanders then handed out those territories to the abbeys to make the areas more habitable and more profitable," De Smedt said. [See Images of the Medieval Wetlands Site]

Surprise wetlands
De Smedt and his colleagues weren't looking for medieval work projects when they stumbled across the wetlands find. They were searching for buried geological features, such as lost riverbeds, using a technique called electromagnetic induction (EMI).

With this technique, researchers transmit an electromagnetic field to generate currents in the soil. The currents create their own, secondary electromagnetic field, which is detected by an above-ground sensor. Comparing the two fields allows researchers to determine the electrical conductivity of the soil and the magnetic susceptibility (how easily it can become magnetized).

Ghent University / Marc Van Meirvenne

A close-up of a medieval ditch used to drain the wetlands. The end of the ditch is to the left of the scale bar.

Knowing the electrical conductivity in turn provides information about the soil texture, organic matter content and water content, De Smedt said. Magnetic susceptibility tells researchers about soil minerals, organic matter and other features. In particular, magnetic susceptibility can reveal if soil has ever been heated — and a handy way to reveal buried bricks, which are made of baked clay.

Early investigations of the area turned up unnatural-looking variations in elevation. A full survey revealed an extensive ditch system and signs of brick structures.

"We were in for quite a surprise, because previously we had no idea if there was going to be something there," De Smedt said.

Studying Stonehenge
A three-dimensional reconstruction revealed that the ditches (detectable because they'd been refilled with lots of organic matter and clay soil) linked up to modern-day drainage ditches, suggesting they were used to turn the marshland into something more suitable for cultivation and building. Two small excavations at spots where bricks were detected turned up foundations dating back to the 13th and early 14th centuries. The purpose of one of the buildings is unknown, the researchers wrote Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports. The other appears to have been a monastery barn.

The project would have been a major undertaking, given the saturated soil, De Smedt said. The research team had to drain the area themselves for several days before excavating.

"Imagine what it must have been like for those people to do with just a shovel," he said.

The barn was built on a naturally high spot, but the medieval builders also created a higher elevation area with sand to build the second building. The abbey itself sits on a nearby sand ridge, out of the swamp, but military struggles and repeated floods would eventually drive the monks out in 1578.

The EMI technique is a useful tool for archaeologists, because it can provide lots of information about what's underground without anyone lifting a shovel, De Smedt said. It also allows for investigation without destruction of a site by excavation. And it helps put human structures in their environmental context.
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Along with scientists from other institutions, the researchers are using the same technology in Austria, in the Roman town of Carnuntum, which boasted its own gladiator school, and in Stonehenge in England.

"There, we try to see if there is landscape variability related to the prehistoric monuments, if there is a connection between the archaeology and the landscape," De Smedt said.

A technique that combines a high-resolution geophysical soil survey with archaeological information has been used to create a detailed 3D reconstruction of a previously unknown reclaimed medieval wetland in Belgium. The approach, which requires only minimal invasive research, can help expand our knowledge of the historical land use that shaped a large part of present-day Europe.

When studying past human responses to changing environmental and socio-economic conditions, researchers are often faced with scarce documentary and archaeological information. One example of historical human-landscape interaction is the reclamation of wetlands and forest in the historical County of Flanders in Belgium between the 11th and 15th centuries, to meet the demands of emerging cities, such as Ghent and Bruges.

Philippe De Smedt and colleagues used an electromagnetic induction (EMI) sensor to map the properties of multiple soil volumes simultaneously, which enabled them to reconstruct in 3D the archaeological and natural landscape variations of a medieval wetland in Flanders. The study area included the site of a former abbey, which was abandoned in 1578 due to military struggles and successive floods. The EMI sensor data reveal new insights into the abbey’s extensive land reclamation strategy during the Middle Ages by allowing the reconstruction of a previously unknown designed landscape from which the monks directed their cultivation of the surrounding area. The research indicates that this technique could represent a more robust way of studying complex historical landscapes.

Full article Scientific Reports: http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/130321/srep01517/full/srep01517.html

Banner Boudelobier

The beers in the Abbey Series are typical classic abbey beers released under the name Boudelo, referring to the former abbey in Klein-Sinaai.
This line forms the most traditional line of The Musketeers. The brewers went back to their brewing roots and created recipes of rock solid quality. Typical styles are blond, triple and grand cru. Evergreens that can charm a broad public, aiming for a less specialised beer drinker who loves a traditional speciality beer.

The Boudelo Abbey has an air of mystery about it, spiced with interesting excavations and exciting stories. The first traces in Klein-Sinaai date back to 1197 and since then Boudelo Abbey has expanded, including underground secret passages, hidden treasures and an abbey beer. In the 16th century, the Abbey of Boudelo moved to Ghent and the brewing activities continued there. Boudelo Abbey disappeared in the 19th century, just like the beer, but the stories about Boudelo Abbey make people talk. That is exactly what The Musketeers Brewery aims at: talking beer.

Boudelo Blond is a clear, blond beer, with a nice white head. A very refreshing start, supported by a nice saturation, is followed by a light, sweet malty body with spicy aromas thanks to a late hopping with a blend of Belgian hops. A bitterness slowly makes its appearance. Boudelo Blond is more bitter than pils but less bitter than an IPA. The slightly drier, bitter aftertaste makes it very thirst-quenching. Despite the alcohol percentage of 5.8%, you experience a full taste. Just as easy to drink as an export, but with a bit more spice!


Brewers talking: "Back to the roots, or so we thought! With the Boudelo beers, we breathed new life into the old abbey of Klein-Sinaai and created a series of abbey beers that everyone loves."


Testimonial: "Boudelo Blond is a blond beer as it should be! Deliciously refreshing and appropriate at any time. We already know what our favourite beer will be after football practice!" STEVEN



Boudelo blondBLOND
Blond – Alc. 5,8% by vol.

10 EBC – Blond

35 IBU – Very refreshing

Available in selected bars and restaurants and specialized liquor stores.


Besides the trappist, an abbey beer or tripel is recognised worldwide as a speciality of the Belgian beer culture. Brewery The Musketeers has launched many beers with innovative flavours, but we like to keep the Belgian traditions alive! Boudelo Tripel is a tripel pur sang: fruity notes from the yeast, a spicy and floral hop aroma derived from traditional hops and a smooth taste, rounded off with a warming alcohol feeling.

Brewers talking: "A triple, the classic among abbey beers, could not be missing from this line. We are sure it will conquer the heart of the beer lover!"

Testimonial: "A game night with friends cannot be without a Tripel! Boudelo Tripel is exactly what I expect from an abbey beer: a fine taste with a full aftertaste!"  DANIEL


Tripel – Alc. 7,8% by vol.

12 EBC – Golden-blond

30 IBU – Spicy and floral

Available in selected bars and restaurants and specialized liquor stores.


Boudelo Grand CruBoudelo Grand Cru is a copper-blond beer with an aroma of caramel and spices. The beer tastes malty and spicy and you notice clear hints of apricot and nuts. You also taste a fresh and fruity tint. A sweeter and softer mouthfeel with a long aftertaste warms you up completely!

Brewers talking: "An accessible beer that is sure to please a wide audience! We brewed a lightly spiced, coppery-blond beer, a Grand Cru full of character!"

Customers talking: "How nice! This beer refers to the former abbey in Klein-Sinaai, the village where I live. Talk about a local beer! But so good that I want to introduce it to my friends from other regions too!"  ASTRID

Boudelo Grand CruGRAND CRU

Grand Cru – Alc. 8% by vol.

20 EBC – Copper blond

25 IBU – Slightly spicy

Available in selected bars and restaurants and specialized liquor stores.



Researchers from Ghent University have succeeded in reconstructing a previously unexplored courtyard of the Boudelo Abbey in 3D. By combining geophysical data with limited excavations, they also gained a unique insight into the evolution of the "reclaimed" landscape in the Middle Ages. The results of the research were published this week in Scientific Reports, Nature's open access journal. The approach, requiring only limited interventions in the soil, provides a good basis for the study of complex historical landscapes such as Stonehenge. Even NBC NEWS reported on it.

Investigation results.