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The Post House of Asselborn (Domaine touristique des Ardennes Luxembourgeoises à Asselborn) has much to tell about the history of the post and courier in the last five centuries. The well known “Thurn and Taxis” international courier service was founded at the behest of the Emperor Maximilian of Austria by François de Tassis in 1504. The Asselborn Coaching Inn, built on the route between Innsbruck (A) and Mechelen (B) was the only postal coaching inn in Luxembourg from 1550 to 1680.
It housed the Postmaster and various postilions, responsible for ensuring the transportation of mail boxes to the next coaching stop and included an inn and stables for travellers. The site also had a barn and land supplying forage for the horses.
The Kleffer family, designated as post masters, managed the Asselborn coaching inn for four generations. This position came with various privileges. Several members of the family became the local mayor.
(c) Post House Asselborn
The postal service regularly fell victim to tensions between France, Austria and Spain. Moreover, the coaching inn was pillaged in the 17th century. The mail route was unfortunately diverted to Arlon and Luxembourg in 1682, causing a dramatic change in circumstances for Asselborn’s old “Postal House”, which was fought over by the last Postmaster’s descendants.
Recently bought up, this site has undergone an impressive renovation and is now a hotel-restaurant, thus renewing links with its original designation.
The postilion was responsible for transporting and protecting the mail. In winter, when high water made the crossing of fords impossible, he had to make a considerable detour to use a bridge. On one occasion an accident occurred along the flooded river banks. The horse slipped on a stone and fell. The animal complete with postal bag was dragged into the river. Would it be stopped at the next mill? The postmaster had to make a report of the accident to the general postmaster, the Count of Tour and Taxis, who recommended the mailbag be opened if found, its contents dried and returned to Brussels, except the Emperor’s mail which should be sent on its way to Vienna as soon as possible.
The recent renovation, after thorough historical and archaeological research, has aimed to return the building to its initial function as a hotel for travellers, with brewery and restaurant. Given the state and size of the traditional shale construction, the interior has been demolished but those original features still in good condition have been retained.
The owners have selected the new construction materials (such as clay walls) with care to keep the ecological impact on the building to a minimum.
Fine example of the restoration of an ancient building, integrating contemporary architectural elements, in keeping with the Venice Charter (recent work must “bear a contemporary stamp”, with no attempt to produce a “fake old” effect). The reinforced concrete, triple-glazing and black steel blend harmoniously together with the solid shale walls and venerable wooden beams.
You will admire the way the owners of the Post House of Asselborn have taken great pains to preserve the many features of the old building, which are beautifully enhanced, as well as the general décor, which focuses on the role of post carriers throughout the ages (up to modern means of communication).
The old well, the door lintel with its ogival arch, the many old beams, sturdy shale walls … all bear witness to the building’s former function, as does the mail coach located in the brewery, a faithful copy of a 17th century original. Spotlight on the wholly delightful “Script Room” on the first floor, which includes a fine collection of quill pens, inkwells and other writing implements in a bygone classroom setting and don’t forget the collection of various communication devices – definitely worth a visit.
Our article on the Asselborn Mill and Post House will let you discover the atmosphere of the site from a different angle: “Sparkling river, age-old mill and imperial mail coaches“.
Interview of Leon Nilles and Séphanie Dauch, owner and manager of the Post House of Asselborn (see the second half of the clip – this video is only available in French for the moment)
Do not forget to add intoHistory’s PROMOTION CODE ‘History′ to get a 10€ discount on your reservation.
Do not miss the delicious Inkstands Museum, on the first floor of the Post House of Asselborn, just above the restaurant (open Saturday and Sunday afternoon). From the clay tablet to steel dip pens, immerse yourself in the heart of the history of writing. A delightful collection of inkwells and quill pens made of wood, leather, ceramic, crystal, silver or precious metal alloys, takes you through lots of styles and eras. Audio-guides on request (Fr-En).
None of the bedrooms of the Post House of Asselborn dates from the period. Nonetheless, their themed presentation (the Thurn and Taxi suite, the Postilion’s room, the Postmaster’s room, the Postal Route room, etc.), offers the traveller the opportunity to see some of the postmaster’s daily concerns for himself.
The most “historic” one is probably no 8, with its authentic postal routes.
If you see them, do not hesitate to ask Leon Nilles (owner) or Stéphanie Dauch (Manager) to tell you the history of the site and the exciting life of the postmasters of the Tour and Taxis company.
This mysterious tunnel for boats was never achieved because of the Belgian Revolution (and the lack of financial means it occasioned).
To fully appreciate the period atmosphere of the Asselborn Post House, do not hesitate to enhance your stay by reading a few books (nothing beats a good historical novel to bring old stones back to life). Listening to some period music may also be a good way to transport you back in time… A few suggestions:
Books to be devoured in situ
Period music to be enjoyed on location
C'est surtout l'aménagement de l'ancien relais postal qui est intéressant, plus que les restes du bâtiment originel, fortement remaniés aux cours des travaux de restauration. J'ai apprécié les nombreux éléments "témoins" préservés, le linteau de pierre sculpté, le vieux puits, le fragment de paroi en torchis avec ses enduits, les segments de poutres réutilisés dans la décoration.
Restaurant raffiné, aux saveurs locales giboyeuses. Belle cave aussi, pour découvrir les vins blancs du Luxembourg.
Les chambres sont claires et spacieuses, meublées avec goût d'objets chinés en brocante, tous liés à un thème. On y dort d'un sommeil campagnard et paisible (malgré l'éclairage public qui s'infiltre par la fenêtre de la salle de bains). Sanitaires très propres, soignés et modernes.
Petit déjeuner au Vieux Moulin (700 m en contrebas), qui permet de découvrir cet autre vestige du passé d'Asselborn.
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Auberge du Relais postal d’Asselborn ***
+352 99 86 16
Post House’s own web site
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