Orval Abbey

Daughter monasteries

1702: Monastery Duesseltal

The Orval Abbey is a monastery of Trappist ( Cistercian of the Strict Observance ) in southern Belgium near the French border. The name derives from Basque ar (an) and French val ( both in meaning valley ) ago. The popular etymological interpretation on French or ( as the golden valley ) created a legend according to which a Countess Mathilde (in some versions of Matilda of Tuscany ) in the valley lost her gold ring, which was her then brought back by a fish. Out of gratitude, she founded the monastery. In the ruins of the ancient monastery of Mathildenbrunnen can be visited.


With the arrival of seven Cistercian monks, a new monastic community was created with a few existing canons on March 9, 1132 who used the buildings around a church dedicated to 1124, but were in financial difficulties. Founded in the 12th century, the monastery soon became very wealthy. Orval was considered one of the richest abbeys in the kingdom. Thus arose in the 18th century, the plan for complete, enlarged building with baroque garden, the medieval monastery had to soft. The old buildings were partially demolished and rebuilt half of the new system.

During the First Coalition War Orval in 1793 sacked by French troops under the command of General Louis Henri Loison in their invasion of the Austrian Netherlands, burned and abandoned by the monks. Following annexation by France in 1797 of land and forest ownership, the buildings, the bank, the mines and the villages of the abbey were privatized.

1926 began with the planning of reconstruction, financed by private donations. Was reconstructed in the cellars of the Baroque new building from the 18th century, but in simple architecture. The ruins of the demolished medieval monastery are preserved as a memorial and can be visited.

Current situation

The Abbey is located in the village of Villers- devant- Orval, in the municipality of Floresville -sur -Semois.

In the abbey ruins, visitors can learn in video lectures about the life of the monks. Before the ruins there is a tool shed, which the painter monk Abraham Orval has served as a workshop. From the church the arches and walls of the ship, the apse and the transepts are obtained. The Gothic and Romanesque capitals are preserved. In the middle of the choir is a replica of the tomb of the first Duke of Luxembourg, Wenceslas I. The monastery building itself is the tomb of Bernard de Mont Gaillard. He was the most famous Abbot of Orval. The monastery has in the vaults of a museum, which tells about the history of the monastery.

The new monastery is not open to the public. A special look at the complex has a turret on Almosenhof. In the middle of the plant is the main courtyard. From here leads up a wide staircase to the new monastery church. This is dominated by a 17 meter high statue of Mary.


Produced in the Abbey, Trappist beer, cheese and bread are offered for sale. The beer also named Orval and is sold in Belgium and in Germany. It has a very bitter taste.