Cristallerie Val-Saint-Lambert

The crystal factory Val-Saint-Lambert was founded in 1826 and situated on the site of an old abbey dating back to 1202. The abbey was demolished and rebuilt a couple of times, but the 18th century main building is still in use as the office of Val-Saint-Lambert and as a crystal and glass museum. A part of the factory is still in use up to this day, the high quality Art Nouveau and Art Deco items are popular all around the world. It’s also the official glassware supplier of Albert II, former king of Belgium.


From the end of the 19th century the company was increasingly succesful. On the factory site over 180 houses were built for the workers, there was a school, a store and even a small hospital. Over 5.000 employees were creating 120.000 unique crystal objects every day. The year 1894 was a milestone for the company; for the world exhibition in Antwerp Val-Saint-Lambert manufactured an over 2 metres high vase consisting of 82 parts and weighing 200 kilograms. It’s now put on display in the ‘Musée des Verres’ in Liège.

The majority of the customers were Russian tsars. During the First World War the factory stopped producing. After the war the works were resumed, but the most important customers were gone due to the ending of the Russian Tsarist empire. In the 30s a worldwide crisis caused problems, most of the profits were from export and due to the crisis the demand was low. To make things worse, the factory was heavily bombed during World War Two. The factory was rebuilt and the financial problems were at an all time high, but the factory managed to recover and is still producing and innovating crystal items up to this day. 

The old buildings, mainly consisting of the workers’ homes, workshops and factory halls, were in heavy decay. Many items were left behind and the buildings were supervised for some years after the buildings were abandoned, but slowly the security was being less and less present and a lot of the leftovers were stolen and smashed into pieces. Still it was a beautiful place to visit, those ancient buildings with nature creeping in everywhere are very appealing to the eye, and the crystal items left behind gave it another dimension. A sad fact: shortly after my visit in 2016 the buildings were demolished for the redevelopment of the site.