Clervaux castle, located in the town of Clervaux in Northern Luxembourg, dates back to the 12th century. It stands at a height of 1200 feet on a rocky spur above the town, surrounded on three sides by a loop in the River Clerve.
The west wing is the oldest part of the castle, built upon the initiative of Count Gerhard von Sponheim, brother of the Count of Vianden. At the beginning of the 15th century, under the reign of the House of Brandenburg, Clervaux castle was greatly extended.
Later, the Witch tower was built in the main courtyard for defense purposes. In 1634 Claude de Lannoy ordered the redevelopment of the dwellings and stables that extended to the north, and had them transformed into reception rooms, including the Hall of Knights in the Flemish-Spanish style.
From 1927 to 1930 the castle became private property. In the last throes of World War II, during the Battle of the Bulge, the castle was badly damaged. Subsequently the Luxembourg State acquired the ruins and undertook a major restauration.
Fully restored, Clervaux castle now houses a marvelous collection of models of Luxembourg's fortified castles; the Museum of the Battle of the Bulge, exhibiting weapons and souvenirs from the 1944-1945 Ardennes offensive; and the most remarkable collection of documentary art photography, the "Family of Man" by Edward Steichen, consisting of 503 pictures by 273 photographers from 68 countries in an impressive setting of 37 themes.
The exhibition started life in the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA), then toured the world several times. It was a tremendous success, drawing more than nine million visitors in the 1950's and 1960's. In 1964, at the end of the collection's journey around the world, the American government presented it as gift to the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg. After extensive restoration in Paris, the exhibition opened in Clervaux in 1994.