Day 3. Exploring Luxembourg’s castles

After spending the previous day exploring Luxembourg’s industrial heritage we turned our attention to its beautiful Ardennes region.  This is located in the north eastern part of the country and home to several magnificent castles.  We drove along some winding roads and made our first stop at Bourscheid Castle, a 40 minute journey from the city centre.

Bourscheid Castle, Luxembourg
Bourscheid Castle in the Ardennes region of the country

We paused briefly at a viewpoint on the road leading up to the castle to admire views of it before finding a parking place in the free car park near to the entrance.  Standard entry to the castle is €7 (£6.15) and free for holders of the Luxembourg Card.

Bourscheid Castle, Luxembourg
Bourscheid Castle

Bourscheid is the largest castle in Luxembourg being enlarged in four stages, the last of which was in 1430 with the construction of its large curtain wall and many towers.  In 1384 the Stolzemburger House was erected next to it as a residential building where the Lords of Bourscheid resided.

Views from Bourscheid Castle, Luxembourg
Views from the castle ruins

Abandoned in the 19th century, the imposing castle fell into ruins.  Fast forward to 1972 when significant restoration work took place and the castle was opened to the public.

Gothic tower of Bourscheid Castle, Luxembourg
The Gothic tower

We took a self-guided tour starting in the Bailey with its infamous pillory where prisoners used to be chained and subjected to public ridicule.  We then clambered over the ruins and up the steps to the top of the lookout towers from where we had some spectacular views across the scenic Ardennes region.

Views from the top of Bourscheid Castle
Views from the top of Bourscheid Castle

After viewing the dungeons and more of the ruins we ended our visit in the Gatekeepers House which is now a museum displaying castle artefacts.

Vianden Chairlift station with the castle on the hilltop
The Vianden lower chairlift station

On leaving there, we continued on to Vianden Castle taking about 35 minutes and parking in a free car park next to the chairlift.  The Vianden Chairlift is the only cable car in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and offers panoramic views over the Our Valley at an altitude of 220-440 metres.

The Vianden chairlift
The Vianden chairlift

Tickets cost €7 (£6.15) and are included in the Luxembourg Card.  I always enjoy a ride on a chairlift and the five minute journey up the hillside towards the castle was lovely with breathtaking views over the pine covered hills and of the pastel hues of the village below.

Stunning views from the Vianden Chairlift
Stunning views from the Vianden Chairlift

From the upper station there was a choice of two paths to the castle, one 1800m and described as easy and the other 600m and challenging.  The start of the shorter route didn’t look all that challenging and as we were both wearing sensible shoes we decided to go that way.  As it had been very dry, the loose stones weren’t slippery and we managed the path with ease and soon found ourselves at the castle entrance.

Path to Vianden Castle, Luxembourg
The more challenging path to the castle
Vianden, Luxembourg
Views over Vianden Castle and valley

Vianden is one of the most beautiful feudal residences in Europe and a masterpiece of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.  The castle was constructed between the 12th and 14th centuries to house the powerful Counts of Vianden.

Vianden Castle, Luxembourg
Vianden Castle

However, after centuries of dominance in the region their descendants moved to the Netherlands and the castle was abandoned and laid to ruins until the second half of the 20th century.  The Grand Duke of Luxembourg transferred it to the state’s ownership in 1977 and since then it has been restored to its former glory.

The Knight's Hall, Vianden Castle
The Knight’s Hall, Vianden Castle

There is much to see in the castle starting in the courtyard and continuing on to the Arms Hall between the Knights’ Study and the Knights’ Hall, all of which display armour and weapons used in the Middle Ages.  Another highlight was the Octagon Tower which houses the Upper Chapel, a masterpiece of the early Gothic period with its multitude of columns.

Vianden Castle Chapel, Luxembourg
The elaborate chapel

After enjoying cool drinks in the courtyard cafe we followed the path down to the charming village below and enjoyed a wander around its shops and by the riverside.

Vianden village centre, Luxembourg
The centre of Vianden

Overlooking the river is the Maison de Victor Hugo, (entrance €5 (£4.38) and included in the Luxembourg Card).  This small museum arranged over several floors is where the famous French poet and novelist Victor Hugo lived.

Victor Hugo's House, VIanden
Victor Hugo’s House, Vianden

It exhibits paintings, texts and exhibits of the author who spent several months there in 1861 during his exile and where he wrote Les Miserables.

Victor Hugo's Museum, VIanden
Victor Hugo’s study where he wrote Les Miserables

We then followed the riverside path back to where we had left the car, stopping again for cold drinks at a cafe at the foot of the Chairlift.  Feeling refreshed, we got back in the car and set off to visit the small town of Clerveaux.

Clerveaux, town centre, Luxembourg
The charming centre of Clerveaux

We were so glad that we had decided to call there on our way back to the city centre as Clerveaux is such a pretty town nestled in a valley setting on the banks of the River Clerve.  It’s dominated by the picture perfect Clerveaux Castle which, along with Bourscheid and Vianden, is another beauty.

Clerveaux Castle
The beautiful Clerveaux Castle

Built during medieval times, during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II it was almost completely destroyed by fire.  The former fortification now houses ‘The Family of Man’ exhibition comprising a collection of over 500 photographs exploring ideas of what it is to be human.

Family of Man exhibition, Clerveaux Castle
Outdoor pictures of the Family of Man exhibition

Also of interest is the parish church, characterised by its twin spires and diamond shaped roof, which we thought was really beautiful.

Parish Church of Clerveaux, Luxembourg
The beautiful parish church in Clerveaux

A walk along its flower adorned streets followed and then an obligatory stop for ice creams before returning to our base in Luxembourg City centre.  How we’d enjoyed visiting all three of these beautiful castles in the Ardennes region.

 

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48 thoughts on “Day 3. Exploring Luxembourg’s castles

  1. Pingback: Day 3. Exploring Luxembourg’s castles – NJCLAN

  2. Oh what beautiful castles with beautiful views! Good on you for taking the long route and what a reward for your efforts from the top! How interesting to get to see where Victor Hugo wrote Les Miserables. That book is such an emotional rollercoaster for me full of tender moments and complicated relationships.

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  3. Great post Marion! This reminds me of how little time I spent in Luxembourg and that castle hunting alone is probably worth the effort of going back. Love that shot of Bourscheid Castle nestled in the greenery, while Vianden Castle might be even more handsome with its valley and river views. I once went to a manor house wedding in The Ardennes, but have absolutely no idea where it was or what it was called.

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words and interest in this series of posts Leighton. The Ardennes region of the country is a delight with its fairytale like castles and charming villages. Attending a wedding in a Manor House somewhere in the Ardennes must have been very special, what a lovely place to tie the knot!

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  4. Beautiful – this is my kind of day out 🙂 It’s so nice to see more of Luxembourg beyond a 1 day visit, and definitely inspires me to do the same. Chairlifts always remind me of the one in Capri, Italy where I was merrily floating up the hillside, and then suddenly realised I was shoe-less. They had fallen off and I had to walk round bare foot for a good few hours!

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    1. Thank you Hannah for your continued interest in this Luxembourg series. For such a small country it has some enchanting castles and coupled with wandering around the charming small towns of Vianden and Clerveaux we had a lovely day. What a pity your shoes fell off on the chair lift, that’s just the sort of thing that would happen to me!

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  5. Castles, castles everywhere! For such a small country, it’s remarkable just how many castles there are to see in Luxembourg. That shot of the Vianden Castle especially captured my attention…looks like you had a lot of fun there! Should I have the opportunity to visit Luxembourg someday, I hope to visit at least one of the castles! Thanks for sharing, Marion!

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  6. Luxembourg’s castles are so interesting, with each one being so different. I am intrigued by them because I’ve never seen a castle, but I would love to someday. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy your posts of them and your lovely photos. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. I do hope you get an opportunity to visit a castle one of these days as I’m certain you would adore the experience. The three castles we visited in Luxembourg were all enchanting and could have come straight out of a fairytale. Thanks so much for commenting, Marion.

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  7. ThingsHelenLoves

    Love the parish church in Clerveaux, very unusual. I’m impressed with how many attractions become free with the Luxembourg Card, especially if combined with free public transport.

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    1. Luxembourg’s castles are all enchanting Helen and both Vianden and Clerveaux are charming small towns to enjoy a wander. Yes, the Luxembourg card is very good value for money as it covers the entire country. Perhaps you’ll be able to pop over to the Grand Duchy sometime when you’re back in Germany.

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      1. ThingsHelenLoves

        I hope so! This year has been very much about duty coming first thanks to Putin and his shenanigans, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel and I look forward to seeing a bit more of the world soon. Including Luxembourg, amongst other places!

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  8. I also love castles and you have selected some real beauties. I’m not so keen on chair lifts, although perhaps I would have to face my fears to be able to enjoy those stunning views! I would have been very interested to visit Victor Hugo’s house and, as always, I’m totally in awe of how much you manage to fit in.

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    1. Thanks June for your continued interest in this series of posts. Luxembourg’s castles were all beautiful and the small towns of Vianden and Clerveaux, charming too. Although public transport is totally free we opted for a hire car as otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to see and do so much.

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  9. Oh wonderful, you know how I feel about castles!! It’s always interesting to read about their history (and then, to see the lovely views from the top). Clerveaux looks indeed like a charming town to visit – they’ve got a lovely church. And it really seems as if the Luxembourg Card is of great value on these visits. Thank you for taking me along – I enjoyed the castle strolls!

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