Monasteries | Orval (B)
B-6823 Villers-devant-Orval - BELGIUM
tel. +32 (0)61 31 12 61
fax +32 (0)61 31 29 27
tel. +32 (0)61 31 10 60
fax +32 (0)61 32 51 46
This monastery, hidden in the middle of the Gaume forests, was founded in 1070 by Benedictine monks from Calabria in southern Italy, and has been one of the most important Cistercian monasteries in Belgium since the 12th century.
The monastery is located on the French border, in enchanting natural surroundings, and can be reached via highway N 88 or highway N 840.
LEGEND AND HISTORY
The name of the Abbey, Orval (Golden Valley), and its silver coat of arms depicting a ring with three diamonds emerging from an azure rivulet, recall the legend of Countess Matilda, Duchess of Lorraine and protectress of the Abbey, whose wedding ring, after being lost in a spring, was miraculously returned to her by a trout.
At the end of the 12th Century, the church of Our Lady was built in the Gothic style, though with some Romanesque elements. During the 16th and early 17th centuries it was renovated, only to be plundered in 1637 by French troops who set the monastery on fire… so the monastery had to be rebuilt. By the 18th century, the community was flourishing to such an extent that the monks entrusted the building of a new monastery to the famous architect Dewez, but this too was destroyed by the French in 1793. In 1796 the monastery was officially suppressed.
You can visit the ruins of the old Abbey.
THE NEW MONASTERY
In 1926, Cistercian monks from Sept-Fons Abbey in France began to rebuild the monastery, which was completed in 1948. The new monastery is sober and elegant, built of warm golden stone on the foundations of the 18th century monastery, reproducing the original Cistercian plan. In the beautiful enclosed garden by the guesthouse, the pure, grandiose lines of the new church rise up to form a monumental Virgin and Child on the impressive façade.
Orval’s brewery is located with the walls of the monastery itself, being established in 1931 while the monastery was being rebuilt. Producing beer was intended to provide a source of income to finance the new buildings as well as to maintain them in the years to come; however, it would take 75 years before this would become a reality. The brewery also makes it possible for the monastery to provide funds for social needs.
Orval’s brewery is operated under the supervision of the Trappist community, making it one of the authentic Trappist breweries in the world!
THE CHEESE FACTORY
Orval's cheese production dates from 1928, just two years after the monks returned to the present site, and was begun by the French monks from Sept-Fons, who were sent to Orval to re-found the monastery. The ancestry of Orval’s cheese goes back to that first produced by the Trappists of Port-du-Salut in France in 1816.