Once we reached the end of the chairlift ride, we hopped off and started walking toward Vianden Castle. The trail is a little tricky in spots and can get slippery when it rains, but it is such a pretty walk, you won’t mind taking your time.
The glimpses we got of the castle through the trees as we got closer piqued our excitement. I love when you can get great vantage points for photographing things like this.
I expected the castle to be really busy, since this is the primary draw in Vianden. But since we were here in October, it wasn’t peak season. It’s actually quite a nice time of year to visit Luxembourg, if you’re not bothered by a little rain.
Here’s a closer look at the castle upon our approach. It looks a bit patchy, doesn’t it? There’s a very good reason for that, which I will get to later.
Vianden Castle was built in the 11th-14th Centuries, and is one of the largest feudal residences west of the Rhine River. As I mentioned before, this area had a long period of occupation. The Gallo-Romans first built a castellum here around 360-450 AD, and the basement may have been used as a Carolingian refuge. Between the 6th and 10th Centuries the castellum was altered. Around the year 1000 a hall building and a chapel were added. When the Counts of Vianden made this their residence in 1100, a great tower was built.
This is a rendering of what it would have looked like around the year 1000 (picture 1) and after additional construction one hundred years later (picture 2):
The castle continued to change and grow through the centuries. The castle was originally built in the Romanesque style, but gothic elements were added later.
But that’s enough of a history lesson for now. Let’s step inside and take a look at the interior of the castle.
This is the Arm’s Hall. Originally the ceilings were wood, but they were replaced by the gothic vaulted arches in the 15th Century:
You can’t get much more castle-y than a nice big stack of cannon balls just lying around:
And, of course, every castle needs a knight or two to protect it:
The castle has a wonderful area showing off some of the many artifacts found during archaeological digs. I liked how many of these display cabinets were set up. It’s difficult to see in this photo, but they were actually suspended from wires from top to bottom. It gave them a delicate, “floating” appearance:
Most of the rooms were very sparse and unfurnished. The chapel had some marvelous painted details though. The altar wasn’t overly decorated, but still lovely:
The view from the lower chapel basement looking up. Servants and commoners attended church services from the lower chapel. This kept them from entering the castle proper, or from interacting with the count and his family during church services. By the way, excavations in this section of the castle uncovered the remains of a square tower – the original Roman castellum.
The columns at chapel level. The chapel was designed as a double oratory, meaning it had two floors so sound could travel to the lower chapel through the opening in the center. The chapel was dedicated to St. Anthony, and was the first church in Vianden.
The chapel all looks quite freshly painted, doesn’t it? So why does the castle look a bit rough on the outside if it was inhabited for so long? Well, around the 15th Century the castle lost much of its importance and fell into disuse. In 1820 it was partially demolished and left for ruin. In 1977 the State of Luxembourg acquired it. That’s when the real reconstruction began. It’s been a lengthy and costly process ever since. But well worth the effort, I would say.
This is the Byzantine Gallery, with 6 trefoiled window openings overlooking the valley on one side, and four openings facing the west side.
After several sparsely furnished (but still interesting!) rooms, we started getting to the good stuff. This is the Banqueting Hall. Doesn’t it give you the urge to find a pewter beer stein full of ale and make yourself comfortable?
And the grand bedroom! My husband and I started calling dibs on the various rooms at this point. He claimed this one first:
So I said fine, I’ll take the Festivity Hall. It has more than enough room for me and my craft projects. Guess I’d have to supply my own bed though.
The Grand Kitchen was so spectacular, I wouldn’t even mind cooking in there. Though I wouldn’t want to clean it afterward:
The castle well is still visible. It’s 53 meters deep:
This is the Knight’s Hall. Could you imagine hosting a party here?
We ended the self-guided tour with a peek into the cellar:
We were a bit parched after all the walking around, so we headed to the on-site cafe and split a yummy pretzel. and, of course, there was beer!
It was obvious why the castle is such a tourist draw, and the restoration efforts are really commendable. It was definitely worth the side trip from Luxembourg City!