For the last afternoon of my in-laws visit we headed north again to Vianden.
Now, you may have noticed that Luxembourg is not very big. Being just 84km long makes it one of the easiest countries to explore from top to bottom. On Monday we were about two thirds of the way up, so still more to explore
Vianden is described in the Lonely Planet guidebook as a tourist magnet but on this cold Monday afternoon we made up about a quarter of all the tourists we could see. It’s a little town, just 1600 people, located on the River Our. And the reasons for those flocks of tourists in warmer weather? The castle.
Driving from Diekirch, your first view of the castle is truly impressive: you swing round the top of the hill and there it is, straight in front of you on another hillock, the town cradled in it’s shadow below in the valley. Entrance is €6 each and in winter the castle closes at 4pm so we had just an hour to wander around, but since there were only a handful of other visitors to contend with, an hour was just perfect.
Until the 1970s, this castle was one big ruin. Then someone decided it’d be a good idea to restore it. But not just restore it to a nicer and safer looking ruin, but restore it to all it’s former splendour, with new walls and roofs and stairways back in place. They did a great job. You can tell which parts are new once you’re up close, but from a distance it looks delightfully middle-aged (as in the era).
There are three or four grand halls which had me dreaming of planning weddings and balls and grand dinners in them. But my favourite spot was another hall open to the elements on both sides with these fantastic shaped windows and wide balconies. It reminds me of a Mediterranean balcony and I could imagine amazing summer evening parties there (if they cleared out the pigeons first…)
After exploring the castle we headed down the steep cobbled streets to the river below. There are a lot of quaint-looking little hotels and restaurants, hinting at it’s summer revival. We may brave the tourists and head back here in warmer weather to enjoy it again.