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Egmond Abbey

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Abdij-toren egmond-binnen1725

Egmond Abbey ruins, 1725

Egmond Binnen 1866

Map showing Egmond-Binnen, site of the abbey

Evangeliarum van Egmond

Illumination from the Egmond Gospels

Egmond Abbey or St. Adalbert's Abbey (Dutch: Abdij van Egmond, Sint-Adelbertabdij) is a Benedictine monastery between Egmond aan den Hoef and Bakkum in Egmond-Binnen in the municipality of Bergen in the Dutch province of North Holland. Founded in 975 and destroyed in the Reformation, it was re-founded in 1935 as the present Sint-Adelbertabdij, under the Diocese of Haarlem.


The Benedictine abbey was founded by Dirk I, Count of Holland, apparently in about 920-925, as a nunnery that, according to local tradition, had been there since Saints Adalbert and Willibrord landed in 760. In about 950 work began on a stone church to replace by the wooden one, as a gift from Dirk II, Count of Holland, and his wife Hildegard, to house the relics of Saint Adalbert. The consecration of the new church apparently took place in or shortly after 975, and is recorded in the Egmond Gospels, presented to the abbey by Dirk. At the same time a community of Benedictine monks from Ghent replaced the nuns, who under their abbess Erlinde, daughter of Count Dirk, were transferred to a newly-established nunnery, Bennebroek Abbey.

This was the oldest monastery of what is now Holland, formerly known as Frisia. Dirk I, the founder, was buried there, as were many subsequent counts of Holland and members of their families, including: Dirk II; Arnulf, Count of Holland; Dirk III; Floris I; Dirk V; and Floris II. Later burials include Floris van Egmont, Floris's son Maximiliaan van Egmond, and Maximiliaan's daughter Anna van Egmont. The most famous (and last) person to be buried there was Lamoral, Count of Egmont,[1] who was murdered by the Duke of Alva in Brussels in 1568 as part of the troubles leading to the Eighty Years' War.

Shortly afterwards, in 1573, the abbey was dissolved and laid waste during the Reformation on the orders of William the Silent. The abbey's income was diverted to the financing of Leiden University.

Relationship to Egmond Castle

North of the abbey is the site of Egmond Castle in Egmond aan den Hoef. The castle was built by the knight Berwout van Egmond in 1129, who was paid by the Count of Holland to represent him, protect the abbey and collect the rents, as Voogd. This was the origin of the later noble family of Egmond. The relationship quickly turned into a power struggle between the Egmond family and the abbots that lasted for centuries. Just like the abbey, the castle was destroyed in the 16th century. The chapel was later restored by the Dutch Protestant church, but the castle was never rebuilt. The foundations are still visible and the land surrounding the old moat and foundations has been turned into a park.


In 1933 a new Benedictine Sint-Adelbertabdij ("St. Adalbert's Abbey") was founded on the site of the former Egmond Abbey, and was again dedicated to Saint Adalbert. The buildings were constructed in 1935 (refurbished and extended in the late 1940s and early 1950s) and the farmlands were put back to use. Since 1989 however the agricultural lands have been let to a farmer, as the monks are no longer able to do the heavy farmwork.

In 1984 the relics of Saint Adalbert were returned here, having been kept safe in Haarlem since the destruction of the previous monastery in the 16th century, and are enshrined beneath the altar.


Many artefacts from the old abbey have been recovered in the years since the iconoclasm of 1568, such as the altarpiece of 1530, and the Egmond Tympanum, a 12th century tympanum originally set over the portal of the west front of the abbey church, which since 1842 has been preserved in the Rijksmuseum. At first it was assumed that all the abbey's possessions had been burned, but in fact they had been sold by the Protestant leader who dissolved the abbey, Diederik Sonoy, before the buildings were destroyed. In recent decades the current monastery has been able to recover many lost relics, or at least information about them. The old abbey had been of great importance to artists, and much of that art has survived, against all odds.

Moreover, in the intervening period from 1568 until the remaining ruins were finally demolished in about 1800, the abbey and the associated castle ruins served as an inspiration in its damaged state to many artists who visited Bergen, Schoorl or Egmond to paint the ruins, among them Jacob van Ruisdael in 1655-60.


  1. The murdered Lamoral, Count of Egmont, is the main character in a play by Goethe, Egmont. In 1810 Ludwig van Beethoven composed an overture and incidental music for a revival of the play.

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Coordinates: 52°35′42″N 4°39′37″E / 52.595°N 4.66028°E / 52.595; 4.66028

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