L'Abbaye de Bellelay. Photo/Foto: TES.

Abbey of Bellelay

The Premonstratensian abbey of Bellelay, a small town in the Petit Val in Canton Jura, is known for its water system. Premonstratensian monks built a canal to power the mill and use the water for irrigation, fish ponds and domestic use in the thirteenth century. The Prince-Bishop of Basel, Ortlieb von Frohburg (unknown-1164) founded the abbey around 1140. French troops destroyed the abbey in 1797.

The abbey is located on what used to be an important trade route of the Jura, Franche-Comté and Alsace and the Swiss plateau. A particular point of interest is the distribution of the abbey’s ancient territory following the creation of the canton of Jura in 1979. Part of the territory is located in the canton of Bern, the other part in the Jura. The abbey is a clinic nowadays, but accessible to visitors, including the medieval forge and the church, which was built at the end of the seventeenth century to replace the old Romanesque and Gothic buildings. (More information: