Last update: October 2021
Luxembourg is a really magical place. The country’s rich history and the cultural influences of neighbouring countries are quite visible in the architecture. Many of these are castles, forts, and other historical ruins. Because this is a very small country you can see all of these phenomenal structures, and on occasion functioning castles, through a handful of easy day trips. In many ways, it feels like you can go back in time touring Luxembourg’s castles and medieval villages.
We did a half-day drive and were able to drop by three. It was a somewhat rainy day but the views were still worth the travel. This is a really great scenic drive through the mountainous terrain and open fields. Driving through you will coast through picturesque farms, small towns, and villages. This drive offers many opportunities to enjoy the greenery of the country through a car window [bottom image].
Built over many years by various counts starting in the Romanesque period with the last additions completed in the Gothic period. The area eventually became a defense system surrounded by a thick rampart. Some of these structures can be observed from the top of the tower. The ruins are now a part of the Esch-sur-Sûre town. There are a few hotels and a spa, some casual restaurants, and many spectacular viewpoints on the hills. The ruins are divided into two main structures: the Upper Sûre Lake tower with the monument up a steep staircase and the chapel with surrounding structures on the other side of the hill. Both structures are open 24/7 and easily accessible on foot. The view from one offers a great view from the other. And make sure to wear your comfortable shoes because these staircases, as one would imagine, are not the evenest.
Visiting: open 24/7, no admission.
This is your typical Disney fairy tale castle, atop of a hill, surrounded by woods and a small town. It is also still fully functional today. The structure, built in the 11th and 14th centuries, showcases Romanesque and Gothic period architecture and was privately owned by the Grand Ducal family until 1977. Fully restored since the castle has an interactive visitor center with a permanent exhibition. The space also hosts a variety of special events and can be rented. How fun would that be for a birthday gathering!
Fun historical fact: Vianden is the first medieval stone castle. At the time it was just a circular wall on an oval ground plan which had served as a base for government purposes and a chapel. All of these early bits of architecture are a part of the lower castle.
Visiting: 8€, open daily 10 am – 5 pm.
This castle is located directly on the highway. From the street level, you see a walled structure with a towering peak which doesn’t look like much but on the inside, it’s a rather impressive complex. Past the humble entrance, the visitors are invited to explore the largest castle in the country (not really sure how this is measured). Bourscheid is also one of the most important because it used to belong to the most respected knight family in the region, The lords of Bourscheid. The castle was abandoned in the 19th century and is now a cultural property you can visit or even rent for an event. Here is a fun video walkthrough.
Visiting: 7€ per adult, open daily year-round, hours vary seasonally.
On my Wishlist for the next visit:
Medieval Castle Beaufort: 11th-century medieval fortress ruins in what looks like pretty great shape and is open for visits.
Bourscheid Castle: A castle located 150 meters above the River Sûre, wrapped by a circular wall with 11 watchtowers, dating back to Roman times.
Wiltz Castle: Another active castle complex, home to the National Brewery and Tannery Museum. Here you supposedly can get a guided tour of the art of brewing!