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The Roosendael domain is almost 800 years old. The name comes from the Cistercian abbey that was erected around 1221 on the banks of the river Nete. Nothing more than a few pieces of wall remain visible aboveground nowadays. In the 19-20th century the domain was turned into a country estate with landscape park. Today the paths, the relief, some monumental trees and the remarkable collection of ‘stinsen’ plants are quiet witnesses of that past.
The management of the Roosendael domain is a very complex matter for different reasons. It is not just about the ensemble of monuments – several of which are listed – but also about a historically and archaeologically significant domain. Moreover, protected landscape and natural values are also of major importance – both in itself and in the historic context. In addition, the domain has a special function as youth accommodation (for schools and youth organisations) and as stopping place for social tourism and soft recreation – with an emphasis on the experience of the cultural-historic and natural heritage.
The activities at Roosendael also involve a great social commitment. Whenever possible, Roosendael vzw looks for combinations with community work and community training, voluntary work, social employment, integration of mentally disabled persons and ex prisoners, activities with youths and young adults who received an alternative punishment, fighting poverty, integration of cultural minorities, development of independence, etc.
Exactly because of the combination of concrete care for the heritage on the one hand and the social commitment on the other hand, Roosendael is known in Flanders as a pioneer. The reason is the integral, durable and socially integrated approach.