On the banks of the Saarschleife, the horse-shoe bend of the river Saar, stands the Old Abbey, landmark of the town of Mettlach. Acquired by Jean-Franҫois Boch in 1809, this baroque Benedictine abbey, which faces Saareck Castle, now houses the Villeroy & Boch headquarters. It is the Old Abbey which accommodates the Discovery Centre, where a variety of amusements and unique cultural points of interest attract visitors from all over the world. Setting the mood from the start, Sir Peter Ustinov invites the guests in the stucco-adorned baroque hall to take a stroll through the 264-year-old history of the company. Moving on, the ‘Keravision’ show presents five stylistic eras by staging the original products in a realistic décor. Those looking for inspiration for their own four walls will find the adjoining ‘Tableware World of Discovery’ invaluable. The current collections revolving around the laid table are presented in authentic interior scenes. Visitors experience the latest international trends at first hand.
From there, the path leads to the Museum of Ceramics with its fascinating selection of historical ceramics, ranging from baroque and other magnificent history-making bowls to royal and papal dinner services, art nouveau tiles and the famous Colani washstands from the seventies. In a permanent exhibition, visitors can admire the works of the Belgium painters Anna and Eugène Boch, grandchildren of Jean-Franҫois Boch. Today, the two artists rank amongst the most important respresentatives of Modernism in Europe.
For many a guest, taking time out to relax and fortify themselves after such an eventful cultural tour is the order of the day. The Museum Café with its excellent menu is the ideal place for this. However, anyone entering the café is, first and foremost, in for another cultural treat: a masterpiece of historical interior design. The Museum Café is decorated from floor to ceiling with approximately 15,000 tiles. Ceramic artists handpainted the partly meter-high pictures and decorations to recreate the old patterns in minute detail. Villeroy & Boch drew on illustrated archive material and turned to the shopfitting traditions of the past for the design. It is one of the unforgettable highlights of a visit to the Discovery Centre.
And anyone who is still ‘up for more’ can enjoy a walk through the park surrounding the Old Abbey and delight in its trees, which are over 200 years old. Here, visitors will also come across the Old Tower, erected in 989, the oldest sacred building in Saarland, and the Schinkel Fountain, a present from the Prussian Crown Prince Frederick William IV in 1833 to his host Jean-Franҫois Boch. Just a few steps away is the extravagant ensemble of the Living Planet Square with its ivy-covered earth spirit ‘Erdgeist’ and the ‘Map of the Living World’, the over 137,000 individual pieces making it the largest ceramic jigsaw puzzle ever. This ensemble formed the WWF pavilion at Expo 2000 in Hannover.