Another great option to visit in Belgium during your stay in our hotel restaurant in Arlon is the Orval Abbey. A Cistercian monastery founded in 1132 in the historical region of Gaume, which can be found in the area of Villers-devant-Orval, in the current Walloon province of Luxembourg. Besides being an abbey with a rich history full of spirituality, you can also enjoy its exquisite cheese which flavor has been refined over the years, as well as its well-known Trappist beer of the Orval brand.
The area where Orval Abbey is located today has been occupied since the Merovingian period, with traces of the construction of a chapel dating back to the 10th century. The first buildings were carried out by Benedictine monks who, upon the invitation of Arnould Count of Chiny, dedicated themselves to the construction of a church and a monastery, both of which were later completed by a community of canons. The church was consecrated on September 30, 1124.
Despite the fact that between 1252 and 1793 the abbey was destroyed by fire and armed conflicts during these years, from 1926 to 1948 the construction of a new monastery was carried out by the Trappist monk Marie-Albert van der Cruyssen. The new church was consecrated on September 8, 1948. Today you can visit the ruins of the first buildings of the abbey.
There is a legend about the foundation of the abbey where an Italian noblewoman named Mathilde de Canossa, who was a widow, was visiting the area and her wedding ring fell into the river by accident. She began to pray fervently to the Lord and a trout appeared holding the ring in her mouth. Once she saw this she exclaimed: “This is really a Val d’Or!”. From this phrase the name Orval is derived. This is why the symbol of the abbey is a trout holding a ring in its mouth. Today, the same river where this happened still supplies the monastery and the brewery with water.
Orval’s brewery was built in 1931 in order to be able to afford the large expenses incurred in the reconstruction of the abbey. The recipe that gives Orval beer its unique taste was invented by the master brewer Pappenheimer. Orval beer requires a delicate manufacturing process to craft a high fermentation beer which unparalleled taste comes from the high quality of the water, the hops and the yeast used. The ageing process adds a fruity note, which means the beer must age for some time and requires numerous quality controls.
In addition, you can’t miss the exquisite cheese that has been made in Orval since 1928 using a recipe created in 1816 by Trappist monks from Port du Salut Abbey. The cheese that stands out for its creaminess is made with quality certified whole cow’s milk from a dairy located in the old farm building established by the architect Vaes on the model of the Cistercian barn of Ter Doest. This is a place you must visit during your stay in our 4* hotel in Arlon.