Known in the Luxembourgish language as Klierf, and in German as Clerf, the traditional Luxembourgish town of Clervaux has a population of just 1300 residents and is located to the north of the landlocked central European country. Complete with a beautiful castle, oodles of history, and its own forest, here’s a quick guide to the best things to do in Clervaux, a stunning settlement in Northern Luxembourg!
On the banks of the River Clerve, which cuts its way through Clervaux, the impressively large château of Clervaux is easily one of the most beautiful castles in Luxembourg. In the very heart of town, the former fortifications now house three museums. Although no one knows quite where the structure’s origins lie, it’s likely that the history of the château dates back centuries.
Restored in the late 20th-century, Clervaux was probably built during medieval times, likely as early as the 12th-century. During the Battle of the Bulge in WWII, the castle was almost completely destroyed by fire. Today the château houses the regions administrative offices, and certain sections of it can be visited by the public.
Family of Man Exhibition
The Family of Man is the most famous of the Clervaux museums. Comprising of a collection of photographs, over 500 of them, the exhibition explores ideas of what it is to be human. Notions of love, life, death, faith, and more are all explored in the compilation of images which were taken throughout the world during the 1950s and collected by Edward Steichen, former Director of Photography at the MoMA in New York. The Family of Man has been displayed to the public in Clervaux in 1994 and was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in October 2003.
Maquettes de Châteaux Clervaux Castles in Luxembourg Models Museum
If you’re a fan of all things teeny tiny, and absolutely adore all things castle related, then you simply must check out the second of the three museums housed within Clervaux’s ancient walls. The models museum is the site of plenty of scale replicas of the châteaux which can be found throughout Luxembourg. In total there are 22 models (otherwise known as ‘maquettes’ in French) which give you a real feel for some of the most important castles in the country.
Musée de la Bataille
des Ardennes Clervaux (Battle of Ardennes Museum)
During WWII, Clervaux was the site of lots of heavy fighting. The nearby Battle of Ardennes was fought around Clervaux and now the museum is dedicated to teaching people about the history of WWII in the region, as well as beyond. Within the museum, there are a large collection of American, German and Luxembourgish artefacts from World War II.
Abbaye Saint-Maurice de Clervaux (Clervaux Abbey)
Situated atop a mountain-like leafy slope, the Abbaye of Saint-Maurice offers breathtaking views over the valley where Clervaux lies and beyond. Constructed in the Neo-Romanesque style, the abbey is home to an order of Benedictine monks who divide their time between personal prayer, communal worship, as well as their work. Visitors are invited to the daily mess held at 10:30 AM. While the monastery was founded in 1890, most of the monastical buildings were constructed in 1909 and 1910. Prior to its centenary of completion, the Abbey was heavily restored from 2008 to 2009.
Clervaux Paris Church
The pretty church which sits in the very middle of town was built in the Rhenan-Romanesque between 1910 and 1911. Characterised by its double twin spires and diamond-shaped roof, the church is dedicated to the Saints of Cosmas and Damian. Nearby, an 18th-century chapel known as the Decanale Church is also well worth a visit, if only to take a quick peek inside!
Climb up to the top of the hill opposite from the Château and you’ll be rewarded for your efforts. For, from the summit, you can admire the gigantic Château, Romanesque Church and precariously perched monastery all in one glance.
While much of the attraction of Clervaux lies in its picturesque setting (there is admittedly, little else to do if you don’t enjoy museums!), a lot of the Luxembourgish town’s charm lies in its abundance of nearby open countryside. After all, the rolling hills do make for perfect walks!
Pretty, leafy, and green the panoramic view of the town is best seen on a warm summer’s day when the sun is shining down and it’s possible to walk around in a shirt. I’ve also heard that Clervaux is stunning in the fall when the leaves change colours and burned bronzes glow throughout the valley.
If you’re wanting to spend a few days in Luxembourg, then it’s best to base yourself in Luxembourg City, capital of the small country. After all, the main city is filled with traditional Luxembourgish cuisines, oodles of history, and plenty of friendly people. Within Luxembourg city, you’ll find plenty of museums, quirky cafés, and lots of museums.
From there, it’s also easy to take plenty of day trips from Luxembourg, including to the (fairly) nearby Clervaux. There’s a direct route from Luxembourg City, as well as Lièges in Belgium. Two train stations are within a short distance of the Luxembourgish settlement; Clervaux and Drauffelt. If you prefer to take a bus, then there are direct routes from Luxembourg City and Prüm.
A visit to Clervaux can easily be combined with a trip to nearby Vianden, a fairytale town. Complete with a restored ancient castle, Vianden is one of the best places to visit in Luxembourg, lies next to the River Our, and was even loved by French writer Victor Hugo. While there’s plenty of reliable public transportation throughout Luxembourg (in the forms of buses and trains), if you want to fit as much into your schedule as possible, I would recommend renting a car!