Stavelot Tourist Attractions
The little town of Stavelot, 9km/5.5miles southwest of Malmédy on the Amblève, can look back on a great history as an independent princely abbey.
The surroundings, especially the valley of the Amblève, are ideal for excursions on foot in the quiet woods on the southern edge of the Hohe Venn.In 648 and 650 St Remaclus founded in Stavelot and in Malmédy two abbeys which soon adopted the Benedictine rule, and from which the princely abbey of Stavelot-Malmédy was formed. Under the direct authority of the kingdom they experienced, between the 10th and 13th C. in the time of the prince-abbots Poppo and Wibald, the zenith of their spiritual and cultural development, and they produced unique articles of Maasland metal- and goldsmiths' work which can be seen today in many museums all over the world. Their decline was instigated by the destructive Normans, and in the 17th C. the soldiers of Louis XIV, and in 1794 French revolutionaries continued the destruction. The Second World War added to the tribulations of Stavelot.
The carnival activities of Stavelot take place in mid Lent (Wednesday or Thursday in spring) in the form of a procession with more than 1000 participants. Several hundred "Blanc Moussis" in white hooded cloaks and masks with long red noses accompany the procession and pummel the spectators with blown-up sheep's bladders.
The Abbey of Stavelot maintains portions from the 16th C, but much of what is visible today is from the 8th C. The abbey was dissolved during the French Revolution and has since served many purposed. Today it houses three museums.
Crossing the Place Saint-Remacle, where a platform (1769) typical of the former bishopric of Liège stands, we reach the 18th C. Church of Saint-Sébastien.
Shrine of St Remaclus
In the shrine of St Remaclus the church possesses a unique example of Mosan metal work. The 2.7m/9ft long and almost 1m/3.5ft high shrine was worked from gilded metal with enamel inlay; it received in 1268 the remains of St Remaclus which had been preserved since the seventh C. On the front are depicted Jesus giving a Blessing and Mary with the Child; on the long side on the left is a representation of Jesus and St Remaclus surrounded by six Apostles and on the right St Lambertus surrounded by another six Apostles. The lid bears another scene from the New Testament.
Bust of St Poppo
The reliquary bust (17th C.) of St Poppo reveals the great artistry of its creator Jean Geosin. In the sacristy can be seen other religious works of art.
Circuit National de Spa-Francorchamps
Not far east of Stavelot lies the Circuit National de Spa-Francorchamps, one of the finest and most famous motor-racing circuits in the world. The 14.1km/46.25mi circuit traverses the woods of the Ardennes with numerous curves and gradients. Every year international motor sports events are held here including Formula I meetings and motorcycle master championships. Part of the circuit is on a public road and ordinary motorists can in fact drive on it. The stands for spectators are at the starting and finishing points.
Vielsalm, 24km/15miles south of Stavelot, is a resort for walking in summer and for skiing in winter.
Not far to the southof Vielsalm lies Salmchâteau with the ruins of the princely castle. In the vicinity the so-called "razor stone" was mined which was used as a whetstone and grindstone. A little museum in the village documents the history and use of this stone.
Vallée de l'Amblève, with the Amblève River winding through, is a picturesque area popular with walkers and canoeists.