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What to Do in Luxembourg: Vianden Castle

What to Do in Luxembourg: Vianden Castle | CosmosMariners.com

You're sitting in a hotel room, and you're wondering what to do in Luxembourg.

If you've got half a day, the answer should be: go to Vianden Castle! My road to visiting Vianden's amazing castle was a long one. Don't make the same mistake that I did and just put it on your list.

You won't be sorry.
I'm usually a planner when it comes to my traveling. I like to know what I'm going to see so I can research it beforehand and make the most of my time in a particular place.

For our road trip through Germany and Luxembourg, my family divided the planning responsibilities; we were each responsible for 2 or 3 days of the trip. That sounds like a great plan, right? Well, if you add in multiple work schedules, a toddler, and everything else that life can throw at a group of travelers, things can fall through the cracks. 

After arriving in Luxembourg on the second to last day of our trip, the adults of the trip looked at each other and quickly realized that none of us had planned anything besides a visit to the Luxembourg American Cemetery. Visiting the grave of my great-uncle at the cemetery was the main focus on our time in Luxembourg, but we'd all assumed everyone else had planned out the rest of our 2 days in the small European country. 

It took a bit of family fussing (doesn't that always crop up on a trip at some point!?), but we managed to regroup and have a wonderful time in Luxembourg.  One of the sights we saw there, Vianden Castle, wasn't even on our radar until I was browsing the internet for something to do for half a day after we visited the American Cemetery.

Regardless of that fact, the drive out to the Castle and our experience there made me realize that lots of pre-planning isn't the only way to an excellent trip. We actually made what my husband calls a game time decision in the parking lot of the Cemetery.

I had two options for the second half of our last day: Vianden Castle or the Battle of the Bulge War Memorial in Bastogne, Belgium. Both were nearly the same distance from Luxembourg City, which demonstrates exactly how close Luxembourg is to a variety of sites. 

My family (my mom, dad, sister, Britton, and I) went about deciding the fate of our final attraction with that most adult of voting methods: a quick close-your-eyes-and-hold-up-a-number approach. I lost, 3-1, to the rest of the family's vote of Vianden.

Looking back, I'm sure the War Memorial is incredible, but this is one time that I'm glad that I was outvoted. We headed out of Luxembourg City and quickly got into the beautiful rolling countryside of Luxembourg.

We passed darling little towns perched by gently winding rivers, and it was hard to imagine that only a generation ago, this countryside was ripped apart by the German occupation. Over 2% of the population was killed during World War II, which was the largest loss in Western Europe.

We were talking about these things when all of the sudden we turned a corner and there it was in all of its glory: Vianden Castle.

What to Do in Luxembourg: Vianden Castle | CosmosMariners.com

Even after all of these centuries, the castle still knows how to make an entrance. We wound our way down into the town of Viaden and then back up to the car park for the castle. You can't park directly at the castle, so be prepared for a short, but very steep walk.

What to Do in Luxembourg: Vianden Castle | CosmosMariners.com
You get to work those glutes even more when you're hauling a 30 pound kid up the hill!
Since we were there in the off season, we nearly had the place to ourselves. My family and I paid the 6€ entrance fee (which, after going through the entire tour, I realized was the best bargain of our entire trip!) plus the 2€ audio guide, a must for getting the most out of your self guided tour.

What to Do in Luxembourg: Vianden Castle | CosmosMariners.com
Audio guide stealer. 
We spent the next two hours slowly making our way through the castle, essentially touring more than 2,000 years of history during that time. 

What to Do in Luxembourg: Vianden Castle | CosmosMariners.com

What to Do in Luxembourg: Vianden Castle | CosmosMariners.com

The outcropping of rock that the existing castle rests upon was a perfect place for the original Roman fort. The Vianden family ruled here and built most of the current castle's footprint; later, the Houses of Nassau and Orange took control of Vianden Castle and slowly built additions.

What to Do in Luxembourg: Vianden Castle | CosmosMariners.com

Sadly, the castle was abandoned in the early 19th century, and, unbelievably, the castle was actually partially dismantled in the mid-1800s to be used for building materials in the village.

What to Do in Luxembourg: Vianden Castle | CosmosMariners.com
Look. what. they. did.
(Here's a tissue: we can cry together.)
That's right--the village houses actually contain stones from the original castle. My history-loving heart bleeds at the idea of tearing down such an impressive structure for the sake of collecting construction materials.

What to Do in Luxembourg: Vianden Castle | CosmosMariners.com

The castle was just a shadow of its former self when the Grand Duchy decided to hand the property over to the state at the end of the 1970s. Under the new ownership, some much needed restoration was begun, and the castle got the care that it had been lacking for all of those years.

Today, the tour through the fully restored castle is one of the most complete that I've had the pleasure of experiencing. The audio guide is easy to follow and helps you understand how the history of the castle builds on each previous period. The room that covers the restoration process (complete with historical photos) is well worth the entrance fee along. 

After seeing the entire property, I'm happy to report Vianden Castle is well worth the drive from Luxembourg City, eastern Belgium, and western Germany: it tops my list of suggestions on what to do in Luxembourg.

What to Do in Luxembourg: Vianden Castle | CosmosMariners.com

Have you visited Luxembourg? Would you be interested in visiting Vianden Castle?

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