Herkenrode Abbey was founded in the 12th century. The land was donated by the Counts of Loon, for whom it also served as a burial place. The nuns of Herkenrode at the time came from a very wealthy class of citizenry, and brought large gifts from their families upon entry into the nunnery, so Herkenrode became a very prosperous abbey, reaching a pinnacle of prestige and influence in the 16th century. In 1796, the French occupiers of Limburg nationalized and sold off the Herkenrode property, and it ceased to be an Abbey. The buildings sank into various stages of disrepair over the ensuing centuries, and it is only in recent times that aggressive restoration campaigns have been initiated. Those who visit the abbey today will be most struck by its greenery, plus a few buildings of interest including a watermill and the grand front gate.