A trip to the Middle Ages at Vianden Castle

Built more than a thousand years ago, this Luxembourgish castle has undergone some major renovations to bring it back to its original magnificent state. It is now considered one of the 21 most beautiful castles in the world, according to CNN.

Located in the north-east of Luxembourg, Vianden Castle is a witness to history. One of the largest fortified castles west of the Rhine, it is set on a rocky promontory, overlooking the town of Vianden and the River Our. With a total length of 295 feet, the castle is surrounded by a long and beautiful fortified wall hosting four gates, one of which had a drawbridge.

Until the beginning of the 15th century it was the seat of the influential counts of Vianden Vianden who had close connections to the Royal Family of France and the German imperial court. In 1417, the dominion passed by inheritance to the House of Nassau.

The castle was constructed between the 11th and 14th centuries on the foundations of a Roman castellum and combines the Romanesque and Gothic styles. During the Renaissance, the castle went through great changes, with some renovations and new rooms being built.

The first medieval fortification was erected on the rocky outcrop overlooking Vianden in around 1000 AD. The main part of this fortification consisted of an oval ring wall. A square Residential Tower was added to the north flank of the fortification around 1100. A new outer wall with narrow window openings was built above a horizontal joint that is still clearly visible today. The castle was extensively rebuilt in around 1170. As part of this construction work, a chapel with a decagonal floor plan and a broad chancel opening wide to the south–east was erected.

In the early 13th century, fundamental structural changes were made to the Count of Vianden’s residence which made it into a “stately home” rather than a defensive structure. This last great Romanesque phase was commissioned by Frederick III, a vassal of the Hohenstaufen Emperors.

Another major conversion work was carried out under Henry I, Count of Vianden and Namur. By this time, almost three centuries had passed since the last great construction period which marked the zenith of the political power of the Counts of Vianden.

In 1820, under the reign of King William I of Holland, the castle was acquired through auction by Wenzel Coster, a citizen of Vianden and businessman who then sold it piece by piece. As a result, it fell into a state of ruin. In 1827, William II bought back the ruin. In 1977, its last owner, Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, sold it to the Luxembourg State, and then the reconstruction started. Since restored to its former glory, the castle now ranks as a monument of not only regional but European importance.

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