A little rain, a little sun, a little Vianden!

Vianden Travel Blog

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Soon, in the distance, we could see the Luxembourg’s fantastically dramatic Castle, Vianden.

The rain was letting up so, we were fortunate as soon it would be mostly sunny but humid! There were many snails that had been called out by the rain for a summer stroll.

We found the parking area in the village at the bottom of the castle grounds….here we would begin.

Vianden Castle was constructed between the 11th and 14th centuries on the foundations of a Roman 'castellum' and a Carolingian refuge. It is one of the largest and most beautiful feudal residences of the romanesque and gothic periods in Europe. Until the beginning of the 15th century it was the seat of the influential counts of Vianden who could boast their close connections to the Royal Family of France and the German imperial court.

Henry I of Vianden (1220-1250) is known as 'the Sun Count' for it is duringhis tenure that the holdings, lifestyle and influence of the House of Vianden reached its zenith. His ancestors were influential in the Ardennes, Eifel and Luxembourg regions for hundreds of years.

His wife, Margarete of Courtenay, was of the French Royal Family, daughter of the Latin Emperor of Constantinople, sister-in-law to the King of Hungary and cousin to King Philip-Augustus. Margarete's ancestors, included the Crusaders from the Houses of Flanders and Hainault, Henry's and Margarete's son, Frederic had served in the Fifth Crusade. In 1417, the dominion passed by inheritance to the House of Nassau, which, in 1530 collected the principality of Orange as well. From then on, the castle was no longer the official residence of the counts.

People can still see the rich architecture the House of Nassau inherited, as no further modifications were made.


The main construction parts of the castle which are preserved today, in particular the chapel and the small and large palaces, originate from the end of the 12th and the first half of the 13th century. The 'Quartier de Juliers' on the western side of the large palace (no longer existing today), originates from the beginning of the 14th century. The House of Nassau was only constructed at the beginning of the 17th century.


In 1820, under the reign of King William I of Holland, the castle was sold piece by piece, and as a result, it fell into a state of ruin. It was a pile of rubble until the family of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg transferred it to State ownership in 1977.

We entered and began our climb through the outer casements. Even though there was mostly rubble, there were many elements that survived for your study. The gate is a great example and is extraordinary

The first hall you enter has an exhibit of armour and weapons. Some of the armour has the most amazing etchings……works of art, themselves. There is a 16th century chest whose locking mechanism is visible and is a mastery of metal chaos.

Moving on, there is another room’s exhibit that is of the natural history of the area and includes finding from excavations.

There is a tiny but very colorful chapel on one end with a view to the lower level. The next room had a barrel vault and windows that looked like a face.

The next section was a room, hall, that was quite grand It is now open but, the Gothic window casings tell a different story.

The views from here are of the surrounding countryside and the castle grounds below with towers now and then from the fortified wall.

The large turret was next as is evident by the curing room with windows….quite special and well restored. From this upper area, it is possible to see a better view of the chapel.

The next exhibit was much more to do with the castle’s history, with many pictures, models, and drawings and much about it’s restoration. It looked really rough after WWII. The exhibit also showcased many products from the region and different souvenirs available.

From this upper section, you are afforded the best view of the village below. It is nestled in the valley in the flats beside the winding river.

In the final exhibit room, there were many pictures of famous people that have visited Vianden, including our own late Queen Juliana of Nederlands.

Given it’s amazing location and Medieval restoration, it has also been used as a movie set for several films. Patrick Swayze and John Malkovich are just a couple of the actors that have been apart of such productions.

On the return, there were several rooms outfitted with décor from the 16th / 17th centuries. The dining hall was a great example with crests colorfully decorating the fireplace mantle.

The royal bedroom and it’s furnishings showcased several master works such as the bed, a Gothic chair, and a tapestry.

The castle’s kitchen will certainly make you appreciate your modern conveniences and eating at a restaurant.

We left the castle and returned to the valley’s floor. Across the river we had seen a ski lift that takes people to the top of the adjacent mountain offering panoramic views of the castle, village and the surrounding region.

It was a must.

The rain was holding off and so we took the journey to the top. We got to hang our feet out as we crossed over the river…..couldn’t’ quite touch my toes to the water.

We reached the top and the views are incredible. It’s is a must if you visit Vianden. You can appreciate the Castle and the green mountains and the river steadily bubbling along it’s path.

At the top, there was a little café and a guy selling ride on a zip line. I love zip lines, however, his was maybe 40 - 50 feet and through some trees, no view. It looked to be boring. The last time I zipped on a line was outside the Swarovski factory near Innsbruck, Austria. The view was amazing and I was not about to lessen my memories of zip lining. I passed.

We returned to the village and were now in search of a meal, before starting for home.

It is filled with quaint that can only be found in Europe.

The clouds were returning and fast. They were black and menacing and would surely bring a storm. We decided on a restaurant overlooking the river and only moments after we sat down at our table…the bottom fell out of the sky. The torrent of rain and hail was hellish. We had moved inside in the nick of time.

We had a tasty lunch. I had truffle ravioli made with local truffles. By the time we were through with lunch, the rain had let up, perfect timing.

We finished our tour of Vianden with one more walk through the village admiring the architecture and the newly blooming flowers.

Our departure from town lead us to a spot high enough to offer a last unobstructed panoramic view of the castle….

it is magnificent.

Vianden and it’s village are more than I expected. It has much to offer for history buffs, architecture hounds, and even fun for the kids. The village is quaint and has shops and restaurants to enjoy. As there are tourist but not so many, there offering is local and interesting. It’s a quiet and charming place to relax on a Sunday afternoon.

 

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Vianden
photo by: Vikram