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At the Monastery in Ter Apel, discover a unique building from history, surrounded by deciduous forests and breathtakingly beautiful surroundings. This monastery was and is a place of hospitality and dedication for passing travelers and pilgrims. The monastery dates from 1465 and can be found in Ter Apel, in the extreme southeast corner of the Groningen province. Located on a heavily wooded sand ridge, it is located along the old trade route of Münster in Germany to the city of Groningen.
In the year 1465, the Order of the Holy Cross accepted the monastery, then called “Apell”, as a gift from God. The settlement was donated to them by pastor and vicar Jacobus Wiltingh in the year 1464, on the condition that a monastery would be built. The Order Council had meanwhile appointed the Crosier monastery of Sint Gertrudis in Bentlage, Germany, as its mother monastery. Priests and lay brothers were sent from here in the 15th century to what is now the Monastery of Ter Apel. The monastery was named “The House of the New Light” (“Domus Novae Lucis” in Latin).
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Reformation in 1593
After the four priests and lay brothers had taken up residence, construction continued on the Monastery in Ter Apel. In addition to the convent building, watermills, a gatehouse, a bake and brew house, a parchment house and a guest house were also built. However, when William of Nassau conquered the area in 1593, the Reformation took place. The Catholic faith was renounced.
Problems after the year 1600
In the centuries after the year 1600, the monastery was ravaged by major problems in the form of fire, storm and sky-high maintenance costs. As a result, the west facade had to be demolished. The same happened with the cells of the Crosiers in the year 1834, as well as with the vaults in the church in the year 1837.
City engineer De Vos to Nederveen Cappel
Fortunately, the city of Groningen decided in the period from 1930 to 1933 on a thorough restoration plan for the Monastery in Ter Apel. Under the inspiring leadership of De Vos tot Nederveen Cappel, a well-known city engineer of that time, the monastery was carefully restored and preserved. More information about what was tackled in this place can be found on the site of the monastery: www.kloosterterapel.nl.
Jan Sterenberg and the Danish architect Johannes Exner
Architect Jan Sterenberg has also left his mark in the Monastery of Ter Apel. He was known as an ardent advocate for cheaper and better housing in our country. Initially, Sterenberg started his career as a designer of bungalows in Ter Apel, among others. Afterwards, however, he designed large housing projects and also did urban planning for them. Only after his retirement did Sterenberg devote himself to the current monastery museum in Ter Apel. And how. Thanks to his involvement, the west wing of the monastery was designed according to a design by Johannes Exner, a Danish architect.
Reconstruction of model brewery in 2007
In 2007 the monastery, which is one of the Top 100 UNESCO monuments in the Netherlands, was reconstructed again. This time it was the turn of the attic area in both the north and east wings. In addition, a model brewery was reconstructed in the vaulted provision cellar.
A monastery for everyone
A visit to this unique monastery is certainly recommended. This is also a true voyage of discovery through Dutch history for children. Among other things, the young visitors are introduced to a quill pen and, if they dare, they are allowed to walk on the floor of the monastery attic. The large trees in the monastery forest provide a great hiding place and the forest is a very nice walking location for adults.