The New Castle of Ansembourg is one of the castles belonging to the Valley of the Seven Castles. In 1639, industrialist Thomas Bidart built the central part of today's castle as a comfortable house surrounded by walls and towers, two of which still stand. Originally from Liège in Belgium, Bidart, who was a pioneer of Luxembourg's iron and steel industry, named the building Maison des Forges (House of the Ironworks). During the Thirty Years' War, he tapped the region's many water sources and exploited its timber and iron, manufacturing arms at a foundry close to the old castle. As a result, his family prospered, earning rights to the title of Lords of Amsembourg which had belonged to the Raville family until 1671.
It was the de Marchant family who, after inheriting the property by marriage, undertook its astonishing transformation into today's modern-looking castle. In 1719, the courtyard was extended with two wings on either side of the original building. The southern gable was enhanced with a magnificent arch where four statues represent the four continents. Fitted with two small towers, the new façade overlooked the gardens which were connected to the castle through an arcade. The first-floor balcony above the porch provided an excellent view of the gardens, complete with flowerbeds and a fountain. Between 1740 and 1750, Lambert Joseph de Marchant et d'Ansembourg further improved the gardens and extended the buildings on the north side of the main courtyard so that they could be used as stables and lodgings for the castle staff. In 1759, Count Lambert Joseph added the impressive Baroque gateway bearing the arms of de Marchant of Ansembourg and Velbruck.
Since 1987, the castle has belonged to Sûkyô Mahikari who has undertaken substantial renovation work with the assistance of Luxembourg's Service des Sites et Monuments nationaux. Initially work was centred on reinforcing the foundations and walls and on restoring the staircase of honour on the upper terrace in the gardens. From 1999, the statues and the fountains in the garden were repaired while the roofs over the two wings and the central section were rebuilt. Work is now concentrated on restoring the oldest part of the building which dates from the 17th century.
The castle gardens are open to visitors from 9 am every day. The castle also hosts a number of cultural events during the year.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.