Saareck Castle: A House of Many Stories
August 31, 2017 | BY Cristina Morales
A visit to Villeroy & Boch’s Saareck Castle, Museum of Ceramics and Discovery Centre takes you on a nostalgic journey through history
Nestled in a park on the banks of the River Saar in the town of Mettlach in western Germany, Saareck Castle has attracted visitors from all over the world since it became the official guesthouse of the luxury ceramics maker Villeroy & Boch in the mid-20th century.
A pioneer in the realm of ceramic design and innovation, Villeroy & Boch was founded in 1748 by Francois Boch in Loraine, a little village on the border of Germany and France. Envisioning a more peaceful future for his children, the former blacksmith turned to ceramic making, setting up a small workshop with just 12 employees.
As Boch built up what would become his empire, another ceramics manufacturer—the Villeroy family—came into the picture in 1789, when founder Nicolas Villeroy set up his factory along the Saar Bank. In 1836, as the market became increasingly competitive owing to the British Industrial Revolution, Boch and Villeroy decided to merge. Six years after their merger, the business relationship became a family one when Eugen von Boch married Octavie Villeroy, his partner Alfred Villeroy’s sister.
Today, Wendelin von Boch-Galhau, from the family’s eighth generation, heads the company’s board of supervisors. Under his management the group takes on a new strategy, presenting not just individual products, but effectively-designed living spaces: The House of Villeroy & Boch.
First presented during the company’s 250-year anniversary in 1998, “The House of Villeroy & Boch” is an exhibition guiding the castle and museum’s visitors through the company’s storied history. The exhibition shows how Villeroy & Boch has evolved through the years, from the opulence and grandeur of the Baroque and Rococo Periods to the Industrial Revolution’s democratisation; from the dynamism of the early 20th century to post-war modernity and, finally, the innovations that have brought the company into the new millennium.
Villeroy & Boch’s background in rich European culture and history has made it one of the most important premium brands in bathroom and wellness, tableware and tiles—each product bearing the marks of French design flair and German engineering efficiency. Today, the company is made up of more than 7,300 employees and operates state-of-the-art production facilities in Europe, Mexico and Thailand. Now present in 125 countries, Villeroy & Boch continues to inspire people around the world with its exquisite designs of the highest quality.
The company’s ceramics are favoured by royalty, the elite and even the Pope. As the leader of the ceramics industry, Villeroy & Boch consistently devotes itself to the combination of art and life, allowing more people to live a life of royal quality.
Staying at Saareck
This distinctive quality of life can be experienced at Saareck Castle, a beautiful structure that gets its charm from its storied past. The castle was designed by the Cologne architect Ludwig Arntz, who also served as the cathedral master and monument preserver. Commissioned by Adeline von Boch, née Baroness von Liebieg from Bohemia and Luitwin von Boch, the castle’s foundation stone was laid on 5 July 1902 and, by 1903, the castle was available for purchase. From 1911 to 1912, the castle was enlarged by an extension designed by the architect Eugen Schmohl.
During World War II, Luitwin von Boch turned Saareck into a hospital, erecting a large red cross on the roof that protected it from destruction. As soon as the war ended, occupying troops used the castle as an administrative building. In the succeeding years, numerous employees of Villeroy & Boch, as well as refugee-relatives of the family of Boch, stayed in the castle.
Finally, in 1954, the castle became the guesthouse of Villeroy & Boch. Staying at any of Saareck Castle’s individually furnished guest rooms is a journey through time (without doing away with WiFi and flat-screen TV, of course). Saareck Castle’s spacious premises are also ideal for special private celebrations such as weddings and anniversaries, whether the gathering has 10 guests or 200.
All sorts of attractions surround the castle—nature, history (at the Old Abbey, the headquarters of Villeroy & Boch AG), and shopping. Seasonal dishes await diners at the Abteigarten Restaurant. There, too, for hire is the Historic Dairy. Whether for pleasure or business, a stay at Saareck Castle is charming, an experience that is nothing short of unforgettable.
Photos: courtesy of Mia Borromeo and Villeroy & Boch
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