Steyl is a beautiful small village on the Meuse River south of the city of Venlo in the province of Limburg. It is especially known for a number of impressive monasteries. In 1875 it was the priest Anton Jannsen who came to Steyl and founded a mission seminary. Since then Steyl can call itself the monastery village of Limburg. Are you planning to discover the south of the Netherlands? Then take this special walk and discover all the nice places in the beautiful monastery village of Steyl…
*This article is also available in Dutch (Steyl Reisgids).
In this Travel Guide to Steyl in Limburg
Useful websites Steyl & Venlo
History of Steyl – This is what you need to know….
Before Steyl became a monastic community, it was a thriving trading settlement. Many local traders benefited from its location on the Meuse River. For example, the trade in wine and coal was very popular in Steyl. Especially in the eighteenth century, this brought a lot of prosperity to the village. A few beautiful country houses were built during that time, including the residence of the German merchant family Moubis on the Meuse. This building still exists, but is now in private ownership and therefore not to be visited inside.
Major changes took place when Bishop Arnold Janssen (1837-1909) came to Steyl in 1875 and founded a mission seminary here. He was forced to do so because political reasons made it impossible to found a monastery in Germany.
Until his death in 1909, he resided in Steyl and was the foreman of the “Society of the Divine Word”, located in the Monastery of St. Michael (Missiehuis Sint Michaël). In addition, he co-founded a few other congregations and the number of followers around the world increased significantly. Today the Arnold Janssen family has more than 10,000 followers, which is quite impressive. Arnold Janssen is buried in the chapel of St. Michael’s Monastery on the banks of the Meuse. And this is also the start of a beautiful walk through Steyl.
The Walk and the Sights of Steyl
In Steyl, a village of about 3,500 inhabitants you can easily spend a whole day enjoying yourself. The best tip about this monastery village in Limburg? Buy a booklet of the walk through Steyl in the church of the Monastery of St. Michael. At the entrance of the church that leads to the tomb of Arnold Janssen, you will find this complete guide with a route and all information about the sights of this monastery village. This guide costs € 1.50 each. And there is another option: Grab your phone and walk the route with the digital guide below in your hand. You can read a brief summary of the sights further in this article.
Click on the open rectangle at the top right. Now you’ll end up at the Google Maps website. From here you can walk this route with your phone in your hand. On the side screen (legend, left) you will find more historical information about Steyl.
The monasteries of Steyl
In total, you will find 3 monasteries in Steyl. These are the monasteries of St. Michael, Sacred Heart, and the Holy Ghost. In the past, you also found St. Gregor and the St. Joseph Monastery here. The Saint Joseph Monastery was located in the 18th-century mansion of the Moubis family. When the sisters left in 1994 the building came into private ownership. The building of the former Saint Gregor Monastery now houses, among other things, the Mission Museum.
These monasteries are only open on a limited basis, as they are still inhabited by monks or nuns. At St. Michael’s Monastery, you can visit the tomb of Arnold Janssen. In the Sacred Heart Monastery, you may take a look at the chapel where you can find the sarcophagi of Maria Helena Stollenwerk and Josefa Hendrina Stenmanns, the co-foundresses of the Association of Missionary Sisters.
The Holy Ghost Monastery is dedicated to the Congregation of the Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration. A visit is only possible to the chapel on the right side of the building. The Holy Ghost Monastery is home to 30 sisters who are also called the pink sisters, because of the pink clothing they wear.
The monastic gardens and the grottos
Everything in Steyl has a religious aspect. Besides the beautiful monasteries, you also have monastic gardens with beautiful religious statues, but you can also visit a few Lourdes grottos. And also these grottos are decorated with religious objects and statues. Also, take a look in the caves with statues of Jesus and Mary.
Near the central square of Steyl, found near the Mission Museum is the Botanical Gardens Jochumhof. For a small fee, you can visit it. The garden is named after Peter Jochum, a missionary priest who here introduced future missionaries to tropical plants. Then they were in any case well prepared for the journey to faraway countries!
The cemetery of Steyl
I myself found the cemetery of Steyl very special. It is beautifully situated in a park, also part of the monastic gardens, and can be visited, after you have passed the Ketelhuis and the Sacred Heart Hill. This cemetery and the monastic garden are part of the Monastery of St. Michael. The many crosses, the beautiful monuments, the wonderful location, and the deafening silence make this cemetery a place you should definitely visit.
Here you will also find a memorial for the victims of the Second World War, including Paul Windhuizen (1892-1945). He was a pastor and resistance fighter. In 1944 he was arrested by the Germans and finally transported to the concentration camp Buchenwald. There he died on March 28, 1945.
The Museums of Steyl
It may not surprise you, but Steyl also has a Missiemuseum (Mission Museum). It was founded in 1931 and houses a large number of objects obtained by missionaries all over the world. You will also find the clothing of two priests from Steyl who were killed around 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion in China (1899-1901). The traces of blood can still be seen on it.
Other museums you can visit are the Limburgs Schutterij Museum, the World Pavilion, and the Boiler House. The Limburg Militia Museum houses a collection of uniforms and attributes of militias, the World Pavilion focuses mainly on young children and contact with the world, and the Ketelhuis provided electricity for the monasteries.
These are the highlights of this special walk through Steyl. I didn’t visit a museum myself but a good addition to this walk is definitely the Mission Museum. You can find more information about all the sights on the digital map.
Accommodation – Staying overnight in the monastery village of Steyl?
Steyl is a village of 3,500 people and it is not surprising that there are only a few hotels or guesthouses to be found. One of the few accommodations is Bed & Breakfast Aubergine Dining & Staying. Furthermore, 1 kilometer east you will find the romantic Bilderberg Château Holtmühle. This is an authentic castle with all conveniences: a sauna, swimming pool, and fitness. Ideal to spend the night in this romantic castle and take a walk through the monastery village of Steyl. Of course, it is also possible to make a city trip to Venlo and a day trip from here to this village.
Looking for accommodation in Steyl/Venlo? Check here for the options.
Transportation – How to get to Steyl?
Finally, the best way to get to Steyl is by car. It is located 10 kilometers south of Venlo and can be reached via the A73. Opposite the Monastery St. Michäel, you can park for free and discover the village.
By public transport take bus 66 from the train station in Venlo to Tegelen. At the stop Heijskampstraat you get off and it is about a 15-minute walk to the center of Steyl. Check the Connexxion website for more information about departure times.
History: Between 1888 and 1918 a streetcar ran between Venlo and Steyl because of the popularity of the monastery village among Germans. Unfortunately, there is not much left of this historical connection.
Do you have more tips, ideas, or comments about this monastery village in Limburg, the Netherlands? Feel free to leave a message below.