If you’re a fan of rolling hills, babbling rivers and picture-postcard villages, you could do a lot worse than to head to Luxembourg’s beautiful Ardennes region, located in the northeast of the country on the borders with Germany and Belgium. This photogenic region is a far cry from the busy capital city, and a perfect day trip.
If you’re also a fan of historic castles perched on the hilltops, then Vianden is the destination for you. Around a 60-90 minute drive from Luxembourg City, Vianden is a small town of impossibly atmospheric winding streets and historic buildings.
At the lowest part of the town, the rushing Our river flows through Vianden, with pretty riverside walks, especially in the summer months. From here the Grand-Rue winds its cobbled way up the hillside. Discover the Église Trinitaire church, artists’ shops and traditional local restaurants – I ate at the Auberge Aal Veinen Beim Hunn, sitting out in the sunshine as the world climbed the street in front of me. In Vianden, life appears to be lived up and down the hillside, seemingly little changed from medieval times when the dramatic castle was the focal point of life in this community.
Getting to Vianden Castle
As you approach Vianden, the castle itself is impossible to miss. Seemingly nestled amongst the rolling hills of the Ardennes, as you draw nearer its defensive position on the very top of the hill at the head of the valley becomes more obvious.
Being on a hilltop, getting to the castle requires a bit of effort. Streets are cobbled and not wheelchair-friendly; I walked up, although there is a car park close to the castle gate, but from there some uphill walking is still required to access the castle itself.
The ancient square gateway, overlooked by a fairytale tower, takes you to the ticket office, where audio guides can also be rented. Continuing on, you will come to the main courtyard where you can begin your discover of the castle.
History of Vianden Castle
Vianden Castle dates from between 11th and 14th century, but was built on a site with even more ancient connections, having been previously home to a Roman fort. The Counts of Vianden made it their home until 15th century; in more recent years the castle fell in to ruin before being extensively restored in the 1970s and 1980s. Now, back to its former glory, it gives a fascinating glimpse into medieval life in the heart of Europe.
Exploring Vianden Castle
Today, the castle highlights include a recreated medieval kitchen, banqueting hall and knights hall complete with cannon balls and suits of armour. As you explore further, you will find typical medieval bedrooms, courtyards and open walkways. The old well in the heart of the castle is a fascinating sight, as is the spectacular octagonal chapel, with a shaft leading down into the servants’ quarters below so that even the lowliest maids could still hear and participate in the religious service going on above. Some rooms have been converted into exhibitions of archaeology and genealogy, including displays of the castle before and after restoration in the latter half of the 20th century, while at the castle’s highest point, lookouts give a spectacular view over the Our valley below.
How to get to Vianden
Vianden can be accessed by car from all over Luxembourg in 60-90 minutes. Buses from Luxembourg City to Vianden depart from the Limpertsberg, Theater station in the north of the city.
Admission and opening hours
The castle is open every day from 10, with the exception of 1st January and 25 December. Closing times depend on the season, and vary between 4pm in winter and 6pm in the height of summer.
As of summer 2019, admission cost €7 for adults, €2 for children aged 6-12 years, and €6 for seniors aged over 65 and bearing a senior card.
Audio guides cost just €2 and are strongly recommended to really get the most out of your visit.
Allow 2 hours to see the castle fully.
How to get to Vianden Castle
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