History & Attractions
Let yourself fall back into the time of the Middle Age, when monks and knights shaped Mettlach's character. The time of the baroque, when the abbey was in the middle of their flowering period after the French Revolution, just when the ceramics had their beginning in Mettlach. You'll always find something to look at: the 1000-year old tower, the old Benedictine abbey, the Schinkel-fountain, Castle Montclair, our parish church with mosaics or the historic abbey parc. You want detailed history? Here you can find history of the old tower, Castle Montclair, the abbey or the St. Lutwinus church.
Eugen von Boch created 1850 a parc all around the abbey, after the model of the English Gardens. He used 30 local conifer trees of all the continents. You can find the exotic Gingko of China, tulip trees from the nordeast of America, or cypresses from Japan. A blooming sea of colours and forms, which all live through the change of seasons. There's also a small pond, rounding up the picture. "Homo Ceramicus", a ceramic artworks, puts also an interesting contrast.
Botanical parc guide possible; duration ca. 1 hour
Between 987 and 994, the abbot Lioffin built a church dedicated to Mary on the premises of the abbey, and major parts of this church, known as the Old Tower, are still standing. This historical monument is the oldest, high-rise ecclesiastical edifice in the Saarland. The Old Tower consists of a small church built on an octagonal floor plan. A tall arch from Ottoman times rises at the entrance on one side. The seven other sides have trapezoidal niches which are surrounded with tracery windows in Gothic style. Preserved on the upper floor are the famous capitals showing the church's Ottoman origin. Scientists are doubtful which period of art history these capitals belong to. The small stairwell tower that collapsed in the last century, was restored by Eugen von Boch. He also introduced the flat tent roof, which gives this building its very particular appearance.
The preservation of the Old Tower up until our times must be attributed mainly to the patrons of the fine arts Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Eugen von Boch. Schinkel, the famous Prussian master builder, travelled throughout the Saarland in April 1826 and was enthusiastic about the tower. Later, in the mid-nineteenth century, it was Eugen von Boch who contributed to the preservation of the building with comprehensive renovation. In essays on art history, the Old Tower is often cited as significant example of a central building in medieval architectural history.
In the meantime, the more than 250 year-old Benedictine monastery built by the Saxon master-builder Christian Kretzschmar, today's headquarters of the ceramics company Villeroy&Boch, is considered one of the most beautiful factory buildings. The Benedictine monastery in Mettlach was founded during the last quarter of the 7th century by Lutwin, later Archbishop of Trier. The monastery existed until the French Revolution in 1794. The abbey was famous for its monastery school, where arts and sciences were cultivated in those early days. The baroque building you see today was erected in the 18th century.
In 1728, the abbot Ferdinand de Koeler commissioned Christian Kretzschmar to rebuild the monastery. The entire complex was completed with a 112 meter-long front side along the bank of the Saar river. The abbey building was declared government property and finally, in 1803, it was acquired in an auction by the paper manufacturer Leistenschneider. In 1809, the abbey became the property of the family Boch from Septfontaines in Luxembourg.
In the abbey buildings, this family set up the ceramics factory which still exists today and produces products exclusively for the table accessories business sector.
The Old Abbey also houses the Keravision and the company headquarters of the Villeroy&Boch AG. The picture in the middle shows the splendid entrance to the Keravision and to the company headquarters.
A small park area with a beautiful pond, which has a small island in the middle, is located on the rear side of the Benedictine abbey. From this park, only a few meters away from the Benedictine abbey, you also have a wonderful view of the Old Tower.
The steep cliffs that rise to the mountain ridge encircled on three sides by the Saar river have been a favourite site for fortresses since the 10th century.
Around that time, the Skiva castle, probably the seat of the Earl of Saargau was built. However, that castle was destroyed in 1017 by Poppo, the Archbishop of Trier.
In 1180, Arnulf of Walecourt was granted permission to erect another castle on this hill.
In 1218, control passed to the house of Joinville through marriage, then later to the masters of Clermont, who took the name Montclair.
The ruins of the third and last Montclair castle, that you see today, were first built in 1439. It was erected by Arnold of Sierk, a grandson of Johan of Montclair, who was granted the construction permit for a fortified building by his feudal lord Archbishop Raban.
The ruins of this last castle, built in the 15th century, passed over into the property of the administrative district of Merzig-Wadern in 1991. During the years 1992/93, the local government restored the ruins thoroughly and opened the complex to the public again. The castle cellar holds a museum that leads you through the history of Montclair and its two preceding fortresses. The castle guide, who is on site during opening hours, will provide you with various interesting information. In the castle yard, visitors can enjoy refreshments after the long walks and admire the wonderful scenery from the castle towers.
As a touristic attraction, the symbol of the Expo 2000 has been brought to Mettlach. Villeroy & Boch has put together the largest ceramic puzzle of the world with 137.000 pieces for the performance of the WWF-Germany World Wide Fund for Nature. The international known artist Stefan Szczesny has put together twelve impressive wall-pictures, known as the 'world map of life'.
The wall-pictures are bordered from a pavilion, made from visionary André Heller. Guarded by the so-called 'Spirit of the Earth, a 14-meter high ivy-figure, also made from André Heller. The whole composition can be seen in the parc of the old abbey.
The present monastery chapel of Mettlach was built in Wallerfangen in 1864 by Madame Thiery, née von Lasalle. There, the chapel served as a church for the local nurses and the hospital.
The chapel is a modest copy of the Sainte Chapelle in Paris that was built by King Louis IX (1226 to 1270). The venerable king had brought the Redeemer's crown of thorns and a nail from the cross to Paris and intended to give these holy relics a worthy home in Sainte Chapelle. The chapel on the Place de la Justice in Paris was said to have been the most beautiful Gothic building in France.
Today, Sainte Chapelle is a museum. Since 1806, the crown of thorns is preserved in the Notre Dame in Paris.
As the hospital was relocated and its construction altered, the chapel in Wallerfangen became impractical for church services. In 1879, the chapel was carefully disassembled by Eugen von Boch, and the carefully sorted stones were transported by ship to Mettlach and re-erected over the Boch family's tomb in 1882.
Since that time, the lovely chapel has been standing in the monastery garden in Mettlach and was the beloved house of the Lord for the nuns and the monastery family that resided in Mettlach for a long time. Many citizens of Mettlach still enjoy stopping here for a short visit when they pass by.
On a large stone above the portal inside of the chapel, the history of the building is summarized with the words "this edifice was erected as house chapel in Wallerfangen by the widow Thiery née von Lasalle, in 1864 and was moved to this place over the tomb of the Villeroy family in 1879 by Eugen Boch and his wife Oktavia, née Villeroy, for use by the Sisters of Mercy of Saint Carl Borromeus."
Unfortunately, the chapel's condition deteriorated in the course of time. The wars hardly touched the building, however on 3 September 1962, a ball lightning struck the cross flower on the crest of the front wall and took it down and also caused damage to some of the delicate small towers. But nevertheless, the chapel is worth being looked at by visitors to Mettlach.
Fährt man der Saar entlang in Richtung Saarhölzbach, so kann man am Ortsausgang Mettlach auf der gegenüberliegenden Seite eine kleine Kapelle erblicken. Sinnige Heimatlegende geht um die stille Kapellenstätte. Abbas Remigius von Mettlach erzählt in den Klosterannalen von 994, wie an dieser Stätte im wilden Urforst einst ein Jäger aus edelem Frankenblut, ermüdet von der Jagdstreife, sich zum Schlafe niederlegte. Die Mittagssonne brannte mit sengender Glut auf die Felsenplatte. Da schwebte ein gewaltiger Adler hernieder. Mit seinen ausgebreiteten Schwingen deckte er Schatten über die Lagerstätte des Ruhenden.
Als dieser erwachte, erfuhr er von seinen Jagdgesellen die wunderbare Begebenheit. Er sah darin einen Fingerzeig des Himmels, an dieser Talstätte das Kloster zu erbauen, mit dessen Gründung sein frommer Sinn sich schon lange trug. Herzog Luitwinus war jener Waidmann, der hochgeschätzte Ratgeber und Vertraute des Frankenkönigs Childerichs III., der Neffe auch des Trierer Bischofs Basinius.
Und um 695 erfolgte durch Herzog Liutwinus die Gründung der Benediktinerabtei Mettlach, wo er nach dem Tode seiner Gemahlin selber das Ordensgewand nahm. Doch schon im Jahre 698 berief es den gelehrten Mönch als Nachfolger seines Oheims auf den Bischofsstuhl von Trier. Nach den Angaben seiner Biographen starb Liutwinus nach einem heiligmäßigen Leben 713 zu Reims. Von dort wurden seine Gebeine über Trier nach Mettlach gebracht, wo sie in der von ihm erbauten Marienbasilika ihre Beisetzung fanden. Seitdem ist St. Liutwinus der Schutzheilige von Mettlach und des weiten Umlandes.
Wie die Klostergeschichte vermeldet, errichteten die Mitbrüder des Heiligen auf jener Felsplatte zu Ehren des Abteigründers eine Kapelle mit dem Bildnis des hochverehrten Vaters und Ordensheiligen. Zeit und bewegtes Geschehen aber ließen das Felsenkirchlein wiederholt in Trümmer sinken. Auf den Urfundamenten erbauten zuletzt der Mettlacher Fabrikherr Eugen von Boch und seine Gemahlin Oktavie im Jahre 1892 die jetzige Kapelle. Die Lutwinuskapelle ist auch heute noch Ruhepunkt für viele Wanderer und Radfahrer, die sich bei schönem Wetter entlang der Saar bewegen.
The citizens of Mettlach are proud of their "Dome", which was built around the turn of the 18th century in Rheno-Romanesque style according to the plans of the architect Ludwig Becker from Mainz.
The Ludwinus Church has an astonishing variety of neo-Romanesque forms and shapes. As soon as the visitor gets accustomed to the dim light inside of the church, his attention will be caught by the many mosaic pictures all over the floor, the walls and the ceiling of the choir. It took more than fifty years to complete these glass stone and clay pin mosaic pictures. North of the Alps, such a comprehensive range of local mosaic art, as you find in the Lutwinus Church, certainly is unique.
Beside these beautiful and rare mosaics, this church also has a reliquary of the true cross, which was made around 1228. It has the shape of a triptych that with its wings closed resembles a flat chest.
The church is open during the day.
After the restoration through Villeroy & Boch AG and the German preservation order foundation, the fountain has been set in the Mettlach Abbey Park, summer 2003. The Prussian constructor Karl-Friedrich Schinkel has made the cast-iron fountain in 1838, ordered from crown prince Friedrich Wilhelm. Jean-Francois Boch got the fountain as present from Johann, Count of Luxembourg and King of Bohemia.
The first plans and drawings for the castle Saareck date from the years 1902/1903. They are the results of co-operation between René von Boch-Galhau and the architect Player from Mainz who had already been commissioned by Villeroy&Boch in 1901 to erect the pavilion for the Düsseldorf Trade Fair.
Castle Saareck has the shapes and characteristics of the neo-Romanesque style which also after 1900 was still being used quite frequently. The castle first served as a home of the family of René von Boch, and after his death in 1908 it became the residence of his son Luitwin I., who in 1911 altered and expanded the castle Saareck with various annexes.
The Boch family lived in the house until World War II broke out. During the war, the house served as a military hospital and after the end of the war in 1945 it served as an administration building for the occupation forces. During the following years, the castle Saareck was altered to become the guest house of the company Villeroy&Boch and since 1954 its use has not changed.
The Castle has been built for Edmund of Boch and his Family in 1878. In the ground floor, you can now find a restaurant: stucco on ceilings and walls, an old chimney and old floors will lead guests to the most beautiful time in the 20. century. You will get regional dishes and wines. Enjoy your meal!