Vianden Castle, Luxembourg
High up on the hilltop, the castle dominates Vianden. For a thousand years it has looked over the town in some form. And now it is people who look up to it, as one of Luxembourg’s most iconic buildings.
Vianden is a small town in Luxembourg’s north with a population of about 1,500. Up from the river, the road leading to the castle has a small collection of restaurants and bars.
One of them, a dark and smoky video bar with music and pool tables, seems out of place in such a provincial location. But it’s a reminder that this is not a tourist trap… this is a home and there are young people here who need some release.
But once you’re at the top of that road, past the beers and the schnitzels, it is as though you have stepped back to medieval times. And the castle beckons.
After falling into disrepair by the 1800s, several attempts were made in the 19th and 20th centuries to restore it. Unfortunately wars and other factors kept getting in the way. It wasn’t until 1990 that it was finally restored and refurbished in such a way that it was suitable for visitors.
Today, exploring the castle gives you a sense of what life was back in the Late Middle Ages. It has been furnished and decorated in the style the Counts of Vianden would have been accustomed to.
That includes the huge dining room with its long wooden table and its fireplace from 1450; and the master bedroom with the red curtains around the sleeping area and six small windows.
It takes much longer than expected to see everything in the castle – it is deceptively large. There is the armoury, the crypt, the chapel, the kitchen, the halls and more. Staircases appear where they’re least expected, transporting you up to another level of expansive rooms.
And at the top is what many people would consider to be the highlight – the views out across Vianden. To be a count here in the 1500s, you would feel like a king. Looking out across your land from such a majestic of homes must have been truly incredible.
From eavesdropping to the conversations around me, I think most tourists here are from Luxembourg itself – or at least the neighbouring countries. This is not part of the usual trail of European tourism but it is a gorgeous little place with a stunning castle. Worth the detour if you’re nearby.