Ardoisière Haut-Martelange

Schiefermuseum Obermartelingen - Musée de l'Ardoise


Useful Information

Location: Obermartelingen (Haut-Martelange).
Northwest of Luxembourg city at the border to Belgium. From Luxembourg A6 A4 (E25) to Arles exit 31 Arlon Virton St-Léger N82. N82, then N4 to Martelange, turn right 311 to Haut-Martelange. Signposted.
(49.824815521329230, 5.75129508126224)
Open: 02-JAN to MAR Wed, Sat, Sun 13-18.
APR to JUN Tue-Sat 13-18, Sun 10-18.
JUL to AUG Tue-Sat 13-19, Sun 10-19.
SEP to OCT Tue-Sat 13-18, Sun 10-18.
NOV to 24-DEC Wed, Sat, Sun 13-18.
Closed 01-NOV, 25-DEC, 01-JAN.
Guided Tour Sun 15.
[2022]
Fee: Museum:
free.
Guided Tours:
Adults EUR 10, Children (12-17) EUR 6, Children (4-11) EUR 4, Children (0-3) free, Students (18-26) EUR 8, Seniors (65+) EUR 8.
Groups (+): Adults EUR 8, Children (12-17) EUR 5, Children (4-11) EUR 3, Students (-26) EUR 6, Seniors (65+) EUR 6.
[2022]
Classification: MineSlate Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: VR=160 m.
Guided tours: self guided, audioguide app.
D=2.5 h, St=80, VR=15 m, Max=25.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:
Address: Ardoisière Haut-Martelange, Maison 3, L-8823 Haut-Martelange, Tel: +352-23-640-141. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1750 mining started.
1790 begin of underground mining.
1900 slate mining and processing second most important industry in the Grand-Duchy.
1930 stagnation of sales.
World War II slate considered important for the war, people employed to avoid Luxembourgish workers being deported.
1960 collapse of the Luxembourgish slate industry begins.
1986 last mine closed.
1992 non-profit association Frënn vun der Lee asbl (Friends of the Slate) founded.
1993 purchased by the municipality of Rambrouch, opened to the public.
2003 site purchased by the government.
2019 begin of development of underground tour.

Description

The Ardoisière Haut-Martelange (slate mine of Upper Martelange) is a series of slate mines located at Obermartelingen at the Belgian-Luxembourgian frontier. Today the Musée de l'Ardoise de Haut-Martelange (Schiefermuseum Obermartelingen, slate museum Obermartelingen) tries to protect what is left of the mines. There are numerous surface buildings which are reconstructed, actually it is more or less a village. A miners train is running on some tracks across the quarry.

The quality of the slate is much better when mined underground, and once there was a mine with three subterranean levels up to 160 m deep below surface. The lower two levels are flooded by groundwater, since the pumps were shut off when the mine was closed in 1985. But the uppermost level was restored and is accessible to a depth of 14 m below ground. They show how the slate was cut by a rope and then transported to the surface. A new underground tour which will go down 40 m below ground is prepared since 2019 and will be opened for underground tours in 2023

The site is called a museum and not a show mine, and while they offer various interesting tours the site is not only named Musée de l'Ardoise (Slate Museum), it is actually managed like a museum. During the open hours the entry to the grounds is free. The museum, historic buildings, and the underground mining site are visited self-guided with a special app. The narrow gauge mining trains are operated on certain days, and you can take a ride if you like. They are operated only days with high visitation and weather depending, the schedule is available on their website. Tours are offered only for groups after appointment, but there is one tour during summer on Sunday at 15 for individuals. It includes a demonstration of the splitting and dressing of the roofing slates. There are also a lot of workshops offered, which include blacksmithing, dry wall construction, sculpting, engraving, and becoming a museum guide. The museum is maintained by the non-profit association Frënn vun der Lee asbl (Friends of the Slate). It is owned by the government since 2003 and since 2019, the Slate Museum is managed by the new administration association Musée de l’Ardoise asbl. The administration is a joint venture of the Luxembourgish State, the municipality Rambrouch and the Friends of the Slate.

Luxembourg has two official languages, French and Lëtzebuergesch (Luxembourgish), which is a German dialect. This area is Luxembourgish, so the official name of the town is actually Obermartelingen, not Haut-Martelange. Nevertheless, the museum is officially named Ardoisière Haut-Martelange, as Luxembourgish is spoken only by a small numer of people. The museum is operated in English, French and Lëtzebuergesch. Also, the magazine they publish is printed in this three languages.

Around 1900 slate mining and processing was the second most important industry in the Grand-Duchy. At this time the mines in Haut-Martelange were one of the main exporters of slate in Europe. One of the reasons, probably the main reason for the success, was the railroad connection of the mine. The Jhangeli was a narrow gauge railway which connected Noerdange and Martelange, with a stop at the Haut-Martelange slate mine. After it was built in 1890 it offered the possibility of high-volume exports all over Europe. The village was a miner village, its inhabitants were either working at the mine or working for people working at the mine. At the turn of the century 600 miners worked at the slate mine. The slate industry collapsed in the 1960s due to the development of alternative roofing technologies and due to cheaper slates from international competitors. The production continued for two decades on a much lower level, mainly for domestic use. After the last mine was closed in 1986 there was no possibility to earn a living and today the village has only 23 inhabitants.