Visiting Vianden Castle, Luxembourg: Medieval fortress painted by Victor Hugo
One of the Grand Duchy's most famous castles
This large and imposing castle of Vianden (Letzebuergesch: Veianen ; French and German: Vianden ) is situated in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, close to the border with Germany. The fact that it seems to dominate the landscape is partly because of its size — its enclosure is 90 metres long — and partly because of its hilltop situation, at at height of 310 metres above sea level.
Over the centuries it has attracted many visitors, not least the exiled French writer, Victor Hugo (1802-1885), who painted it. (See also re. Vianden, below.)
The castle was first built in the 10th century, although the site itself was previously occupied by Roman fortifications. Romanesque and later Gothic additions were made in the 11th to 14th centuries. The Counts of Vianden were once rivals to the Counts (much later Grand Dukes) of Luxembourg.
Interestingly, William the Silent, associated with the Dutch Revolt against the King of Spain in the 16th century, built a blast furnace at Vianden Castle, the first of what was much later to become a highly important industry for Luxembourg.
By the 19th century, the castle was in a severe state of disrepair; the Kings of The Netherlands, also bearers of the title Count of Vianden, sought slowly to restore the castle, although a legacy of this period was that it became apparent that the castle was the personal property of the Count and therefore of the sovereign, since the Grand Duke (prior to 1890, the title by which the King of The Netherlands was known in Luxembourg) was paying for repairs from his own resources. FInally, in 1977, ownership of the castle passed formally from Grand Duke Jean to the state, after which a programme of further refurbishment was undertaken.
In World War Two, the castle was the focal point of the Battle of Vianden, of November 15 - 19, 1944, when the Luxembourg Resistance successfully repulsed an attack by the German Waffen SS, which withdrew, after suffering many casualties. While strategically this battle may not have had much significance, yet from a symbolic perspective — including from the standpoint of its castle venue, still of military significance after hundreds of years — it was striking.
The castle is open to the public. Tours are available.
Also worth seeing
Vianden itself is a town on the Our River; with its Victor Hugo museum.
Waldhof-Falkenstein castle, Germany (distance: approx. 10 kilometres) overlooks Luxembourg's Bivels in the Our Valley.
How to get there: The nearest large international airport to Vianden is Luxembourg (Aéroport de Luxembourg ), at Findel, from where car rental is available. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
Other of my hubpages may also be of interest
- Visiting the Mullerthal: the Little Switzerland of Luxembourg
- Visiting Cinqfontaines, Luxembourg: remembering World War Two inhumanity in the Grand Duchy
- Visiting Clervaux in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg: rich architectural heritage and Battle of the Bu
- Visiting Luxembourg and its Grand Ducal Palace: previously the seat of the government
- Visiting Trinity Church, Luxembourg City: remembering Grand Dukes and a Prussian garrison
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