With over one million years of history, Luxembourg has a rich and varied past interwoven with royalty, tradition, war and peace. With powerful neighbours on every side, the tiny country had need of defensive castles since the early 10th century. These, as well as an array of magnificent stately palaces, still exist in Luxembourg today, casting a light on the great historical and archeological heritage of the country. We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 castles and palaces in Luxembourg.
Esch-sur-Sûre Castle, located above the town of the same name, historically loomed as a great fortress of protection for its townspeople below. It is naturally guarded by a sharp meander in the river Sûre which surrounds the town and the castle on three sides. The fort’s first tower was built in the year 927 in Romanesque style, however much of its design is influenced by Gothic patterns popular in Europe in the 13th century. Today the castle continues to stand proudly above the town of Esch-sur-Sûre, despite now being in ruins. The site is nationally protected as an historic treasure and is illuminated in the evenings, giving the site a feeling of true fairytale magic.
Walferdange Castle is an extremely young building when compared to the other castles and palaces, constructed in 1824 as a stud farm. Its majestic size caught the eye of nobility and it was made a royal residence around forty years later. Renovated by Prince Henry of Luxembourg, over time it has operated as a hospital, a teacher training center, an army barracks and an institute. Presently it is a key building at the University of Luxembourg, and hosts the faculty of Literary Disciplines.
Larochette Castle stands high above the town of Larochette in central Luxembourg. Dating from the 11th century, the original castle was destroyed by fire 500 years later. Despite this tragedy much authentic architecture survived, allowing visitors to truly immerse themselves in the realities of medieval castle life when they visit, with the remains of dining halls, servant quarters and dungeons still in tact. A deep well is carved into the stone rocks at the back of the fort, where legend tells a dragon was born. Eerily, this dragon is said to awaken at midnight on every Good Friday and make mischief around the castle’s keep; visit on this date if you dare.
Located in the picturesque village of Bourscheid, Bourscheid Castle towers as one of the oldest castles in Luxembourg, on a site with archaelogical evidence of structures dating back to Roman times. This initial castle is believed to have consisted of a keep, a palace and a chapel, surrounded by a rampart with four tall towers. Officially acquired by the state in 1972, the building then underwent several architectural transformations which included the addition of a large chimney and newly re-roofed towers. Watch out for when the castle lights up during the evening; the area is illuminated for miles around.
Located above the tiny village of Ansembourg, this castle currently serves as home to the Count of the region. Although there is no definitive date detailing when the castle was first constructed, the first buildings are believed to date back to as early as 1135. At the end of 2008 the Luxembourgian government acquired the castle’s library of around 6,000 books. Interest was sparked in the collection after the Codex Mariendalensis manuscript was found, especially significant as it was written in the archaic Moselle Franconian dialect. The castle remains private property, however the surrounding greenery offers many walking options, and an exclusive boutique hotel was recently opened within close proximity to the castle.
New Castle of Ansembourg
Built in 1639 as a private residence, the New Castle of Ansembourg sits staunchly in the centrally located Valley of the Seven Castles, and was primarily named the ‘House of the Ironworks’ after its first owner’s profession as an iron worker. Inherited by the de Marchant family in 1719, significant transformations to the property at this time saw it acquire elegant statues, fashionable stair arrangements and decorative fountains. Several cultural events are held here every year, and the French-style castle gardens, home to botanic collections, exotic plants and numerous varieties of fruit trees, are open daily.
Erected as one of the first European medieval castles, Beaufort Castle dates from the 11th century, and stands as the ruins of a medieval fortress which were orignally protected by a large moat. A very contested residence over the years, the ownership of the castle changed hands often until it was abandoned and left to fall into disrepair. Unfortunately the castle has suffered a startling degradation, however there is a certain ethereal beauty to the site, and it is recognised as a National Monument of Luxembourg.
Château de Septfontaines
The unique Château de Septfontaines was built in 1783, in the Rollingergrund region of Luxembourg City, by Jean-François and Pierre-Joseph Boch. These designers had also opened their own porcelain factory nearby in 1767, and used the castle as a homely base for both of their families. Occupied by French troups and then sold in 1914, the castle has undergone renovation works for more than 12 years. Nowadays, in memory and celebration of its first owners, the castle is adorned with porcelain shapes, designs and figurines of all kinds. Although not fully open to visitors, the castle is often used for conferences and receptions.
The Grand Ducal Palace
Used by the Grand Duke as a base from which to exercize his official duties, The Grand Ducal Palace is a beautiful building set in the heart of Luxembourg City. Revered for its charm during World War II, it was fully preserved by the Nazis and did not suffer any dilapidation. The beautiful exterior dates from the Flemish Renaissance in the 16th century, and a modern light design by Ingo Maurer illuminates the spacious rooms inside. Exclusive guided tours of The Grand Ducal Palace are available during the summer months.
Located in the North of Luxembourg, Vianden Castle was constructed between the 11th and 14th centuries as an abode for the Count of Vianden, and stands today as one of the largest fortified castles West of the Rhine. Originally Romanesque in design, Gothic trimmings were then added resulting in an eye-catching combination of stone work, colour use and window styles. After falling into severe disrepair, a recent restoration has elevated the castle to its formal glory, and it is now open as a brilliant place for visitors to experience Luxembourgian history amongst the beauty of the countryside.
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