Located in a small village called Vianden — in the northeast of Luxembourg, just a few hundred meters from the German border — is a castle that is almost a thousand years old.
Vianden Castle is one of the largest fortified castles west of the Rhine, with a height of 310 metres (1,020 ft), and a total length of 90 metres (300 ft). Set on a rocky promontory, the castle towers above the rest of the town and overlooks the River Our.
In 2019, Vianden Castle was listed by CNN as one of the 21 most beautiful castles in the world.
Vianden Castle was constructed between the 11th and 14th centuries on the foundations of a Roman castle and a Carolingian refuge. Until the beginning of the 15th century, it was the seat of influential counts of Vianden. After that, it was more or less abandoned as the counts gained the additional title of the House of Nassau-Orange.
In 1820, under the reign of King William I of Holland, the castle was sold to an alderman who then started to demolish the building, selling off parts of it piece by piece — from the roof tiles, to the wood paneling, to the doors and windows. Consequently, the castle fell into a state of ruin.
There had been several attempts at restoration but they were thwarted by the Belgian Revolution and the World Wars. It wasn’t until 1977 that it was transferred to state ownership and restoration work began in earnest. The chapel and the small and large palaces, which originate from the 12th and 13th centuries are the parts that are preserved to this day.
Vianden Castle is now an important historical monument in Europe.
How to Get to Vianden Castle from Luxembourg City
From the Luxembourg Central Train Station, take the train to Diekirch. This journey will take approximately 47 minutes long. Once in Diekirch, take the 570 bus to Vianden and get off at the stop on the far side of the river, directly beneath Vianden Castle.
*As of 1st March 2020, all public transports in Luxembourg — including trains, trams, and buses — are free, making them the first country in the world with completely free public transportation! This is definitely my kind of country.
To get the best view of the village and the Our Valley, you can take the chairlift to reach Vianden Castle. The chairlift takes you from an altitude of 220m to 440m, right to the top of the highest hill in Vianden. From the top, you need to make a short descent to get to Vianden Castle.
The chairlift can be taken both up and down. It’s open from Easter to October (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), and closed in October in case of bad weather.
One way: 4.30 € (Adult) / 2.70 € (Child)
Both ways: 5.80 € (Adult) / 3.30 € (Child)
Group both ways (> 10 people) : 4.70 € (Adult) / 3.00 € (Child)
FREE with Luxembourg Card.
What to Expect
When you get off the bus in Vianden, look out for the map that shows all the different routes leading up to the castles. Yes, there are several, but don’t worry — the castle can be seen from practically everywhere in the village, so you aren’t likely to get lost. It’s a little over half a mile to get to the entrance of the castle, and along the way, you will see some cute little shops.
In the courtyard of the castle, the National Monuments and Sites Services has set up an interactive Information Center, where you can see a permanent exhibition of the castle history, its development and its many phases of construction and deconstruction.
Once you have passed that, you’ll get to see the rest of the castle. With a total length of 90 metres, it contains 20 rooms that are open to visit, showcasing Romanesque, Gothic, or Renaissance architecture.
As the castle had been deconstructed and restored many times over the centuries, it became a patchwork of different eras. Don’t miss the Upper Chapel, which has been restored to reflect its original Gothic architecture, the Archaeological Crypt, the Grand Kitchen, and the two seigniorial rooms.
Great efforts have been made to decorate the interior as authentically as possible, so that visitors will really get a feel of what the castle was like during its heyday.
Although this castle isn’t as colorful or as frilly as I imagined a castle to be (from watching too much Disney), it still fulfilled my childhood dream of being in a real castle.
I didn’t find my prince there unfortunately, but I did enjoy taking a lot of selfies in and around the castle.
To make the most of your visit, get the audio guide (available in ten languages). If you travel in a bigger group, you can try to request for a guided tour from the staff members.
Vianden Castle regularly hosts events and concerts, mostly classical music. In June, there is a special weekend of activities to showcase life in the Middle Ages, including craftsmen wearing period clothes.
In July, a nine-day Medieval Festival is held, featuring daily entertainments, such as knight’s camp, sword-fighting demonstrations, calligraphy demonstrations, and a host of other acts. This family-friendly festival attracts about 30,000 visitors each year.
And in September, Vianden Castle hosts the Book and Paper Festival, where antique dealers, collectors, and lovers of culture and literature meet around the theme of paper.
The castle of Vianden is open again from the 10th of January 2021.
10th Jan – 28th Feb: from 10:00 to 16:00
1st Mar – 31st Mar: from 10:00 to 17:00
1st Apr – 30th Sep: from 10:00 to 18:00
1st Oct – 31st Oct: from 10:00 to 17:00
1st Nov – 31st Dec: from 10:00 to 16:00
*The castle is closed on 1st January and 25th December.
Visit Vianden Castle’s official website for latest updates.
Credit cards are accepted (min 10 Euro).
Visitors who wish to have a guided tour must contact the castle administration by e-mail. Unfortunately, guided tours are not possible during the medieval festival.
Dogs are only allowed in the courtyard and in the cafeteria.
* These entrance fees are valid for the whole year with the exception of the medieval festival (31st July – 8th August 2021)
Things to See & Do Near Vianden Castle
Vianden is a small picturesque town with a total population of just over 1,800. Although it is most known for Vianden Castle, there are also several other attractions, so you might want to spend at least a whole day there to allow you to visit some or all of these places:
- Musée d’Histoire de la Ville de Vianden – Learn about the history of the 1000-year-old town, as well as gain insight into 18th and 19th century interiors.
- Victor Hugo Museum (Musée Littéraire ‘Victor Hugo’) – discover Victor Hugo’s house in Vianden, learn about his work and life, and see exhibitions of his paintings, texts and several of his possessions.
- National Museum of Military History – see the catastrophe brought upon by the war through exhibits of military vehicles and weapons, a photo gallery and life-size dioramas.
- Grand Rue – see the town hall, the Church of the Trinitarians (13th century), and a cloister that used to be part of the Trinitarian Monastery.
Even if you don’t wish to visit any of the museums or historical attractions, you can still walk along the winding streets and look at the beautiful houses and the river Our that runs through the village. There is a pleasant cycle route and many signposted walking trails in the area.
You can then finish off with a beer on one of the terraces.
Vianden also hosts a number of annual events and celebrations, the most famous of which is the nut market in October when the local walnuts are in season. You can find a variety of walnut-based products, such as walnut cakes, walnut confectionery, walnut brandy, and walnut liqueurs.
Have you been to a medieval castle before? Share your experience in the comment section below.
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