Vianden Castle

Vianden, Luxembourg

Vianden Castle is one of the largest fortified castles west of the Rhine. Set on a rocky promontory, the castle stands at a height of 310 metres, dominating the town of Vianden and overlooking the River Our about a hundred metres below. The castle and its dependent buildings have a total length of 90 metres.

The castle was built on the site of an ancient Roman castellum in the 10th century. The basement appears to have been a Carolingian refuge. Historically, the first Count of Vianden was mentioned in 1090. The castle continued to be the seat of the Vianden's influential counts until the beginning of the 15th century.

Around 1100, a square keep was built as well as a kitchen, a chapel and residential rooms indicating that an aristocratic family lived there at the time. During the first half of the 12th century, a new residential tower and a prestigious decagonal chapel were added while the palace itself was extended. At the beginning of the 13th century, a new two-storey palace measuring 10 by 13 metres was built with a sumptuous gallery connecting it to the chapel. These additions show how the Counts of Vianden sought to rival the House of Luxembourg. The last great change took place in the middle of the 13th century when the entire castle was adapted to reflect the Gothic style. Finally, in 1621 the Nassau Mansion with its banqueting hall and bedroom was built by Prince Maurice of Orange-Nassau-Vianden in the Renaissance style replacing a damaged side wing of the 11th century keep.

During the 16th century, the castle was more or less abandoned by the Counts of Vianden who had gained the additional title of the House of Nassau-Orange after Elisabeth, the granddaughter of Henry II of Vianden had willed the County of Vianden together with its castle to her cousin, Count Engelbert of Nassau. This initiated the long association between Vianden and the House of Nassau. In 1564, William the Silent, Prince of Orange, Count of Nassau and of Vianden, took an initial interest in Vianden where he built the first blast furnace in Luxembourg but left in 1566 to lead the Dutch revolt again the King Philip II of Spain. As a result, Philip confiscated the castle and conferred it on Peter Ernst von Mansfeld, the governor of Luxembourg.

In 1820, King William I sold the castle to Wenzel Coster, an alderman, for 3,200 florins. Coster started to demolish the building, selling off the tiles from the roof, the wooden panelling, the doors and the windows piece by piece. Soon the castle was a ruin.

Such was the indignation of his subjects at the mistreatment of the castle that in 1827 the king, himself a Count of Vianden, repurchased the ruin for 1,100 florins hoping to begin restoration work. Unfortunately, his time was taken up with the Belgian Revolution of 1830 and it was not until 1851 that Prince Henry of the Netherlands reconstructed the chapel at his own expense, giving it a lower roof. When Adolphe of Nassau-Weilbourg became Grand Duke of Luxembourg in 1890, he charged Bobo Ebhardt, a German specialist, with further restoration. Although Ebhardt succeeded in making important progress, his work was interrupted by the First World War.

During the Second World War, in the Battle of Vianden which took place on November 19, 1944, the castle was ably defended against the Waffen-SS by members of the Luxembourgish anti-Nazi resistance, and proved to have some military value even under conditions of modern warfare.

It was not until 1962 that consideration was again given to restoration, resulting in reconstruction of the Armory. Further progress was hampered by questions of the castle's ownership. Only after Grand Duke Jean had ceded the castle to the State in 1977 did work continue. In 1978, attention turned to rebuilding the walls, the gables and the roof. In 1979, the chapel was also given a new roof and restored to reflect its original Gothic appearance had been lost during the fire of 1667 caused by lightning. The white tower was also reinforced and topped with a conical roof. Finally, after the Nassau Mansion was fully restored in 1981–82, efforts were made to refurnish the interior as authentically as possible. This work was completed in 1990.

The castle is open to visitors throughout the year.

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Details

Founded: 10th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Luxembourg

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Pinky Cmt (6 months ago)
Beautiful Castle, so much history. It’s like an adventure going back to the previous time. The only thing is that, I was wearing a high heel boots, and it was hard to walk here since the entry is uphill and hard to walk back down( girl issues) Also, there is not much of story written in inside like what happened etc, not very informative esp for a tourist like me if I did not made a research about the castle, I also wouldn’t know anything. They just put the dates of it was built until the present. Another option is that you can rent an audio where it tell you more about the castle. The entrance is 8-10 euros I think for adult, can’t remember exactly, and 2 euros for the audio guide. There’s a coffee restaurant and shop here that sells souvenirs and good alcohol from the area. Must see if you are in Luxembourg.
Chad Wilson (8 months ago)
Definitely worth the cost and a very nice display of architecture and artifacts. Bathrooms were very clean. The walk to and from the castle involves a steep climb. Several people we met in the town of Vianden could not make it up, but many people were just fine.
Princy Khurana (10 months ago)
How amazing it is to be able to relive the history of this palace. The castle is about 1 hour by car from Luxembourg city. The tickets are 10 euros for adults and 2 euros for an audio guide. Since the guide ( handheld , not an earphone / headphone ) can be heard , 2-3 people can share 1. There was no wait. The audio was very detailed and it was lovely to share the fragments of historical essence as we walked past each room. The large kitchen was my favorite as well as the banquet hall. I was completely mesmerized by the sheer grandeur of the bedroom, banquet hall and the history behind the Vianden Castle. We are so glad that we decided to make this decision to go and visit this. Absolutely a must visit ?
Helen Edley (10 months ago)
We spent about 3 hours exploring the castle/palace, taking photos, soaking up the history, reading all interpretive signs and watching the fabulous movie. We thought it was very considerate of the planners to put toilets on opposite ends of the tour! This tourist attraction was our destination today and we were so glad we added it to our itinerary.
Mateusz (11 months ago)
Visiting the castle in Vianden was an unforgettable experience for me. The castle is one of the most beautiful and largest monuments of Romanesque-Gothic architecture in Europe. It was built on the site of a former Roman watchtower, and for centuries was the seat of the Dukes of Vianden and the Nassau family. The castle has many interesting halls and rooms that can be explored on your own or with an audio guide. I admired, among others a Byzantine gallery, a banquet hall with tapestries, a bedroom and a banquet room with a fireplace. On the information boards you can learn many interesting facts about the history of the castle and its inhabitants. The castle was restored in the 1970s and is now open to the public. Visiting the castle was not only a history lesson, but also an opportunity to admire the beautiful views of the town of Vianden and the Our River valley. From the castle terrace you can see picturesque landscapes, charming houses and the church of St. Trinity. You can also use the cable car that connects the castle with the city centre. It's a great way to see the area from a different perspective. Vianden Castle is a place I recommend to anyone who likes history, architecture and beautiful nature. It's the perfect place to spend a few hours or the whole day. I am very pleased with my visit and will definitely return.
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