It had been a long time coming, but my childhood bestie and I finally had a week-long vacation together. The last time this happened we were in high school, and we had a blast exploring Germany (and more)! We took Brock to the Nature Park where we fed bananas to the monkeys, pet piggies and goats, and worried for the lives of the very alive rabbits in the fox pen 😯 . We revisited Frankfurt where I bought Brock his first set of real leather Lederhosen and a weather house for my mom. We rode the bergh-bahn in Heidelberg and explored the castle ruins in the summer sunshine which was MUCH better than in January, and for our last big day trip we headed over the border to Vianden, Luxembourg. Yes, it was a full week!
The drive was just under an hour and a half, and once we got past Trier we kept questioning if we had crossed the border yet. 20 minutes to destination. 3 minutes to destination. 1 minute to destination and still we hadn’t passed a “welcome to Luxembourg” sign! We were really wondering if we should have listened to the GPS and exited the autobahn, even though signs were telling us to stay on for Luxembourg. And then, literally, not even 5 seconds after passing the European Union “Welcome to Luxembourg” sign we were at the base of the mountain looking up at the castle in pure awe.
Like most places around here, the village was super cute, and just how you would imagine it to be. There were sidewalk cafés, fountains in the river, and the obvious, stunning castle perched above. We rode the chair lift (exactly the same as in Cochem) to the top of the mountain, over the castle and marveled for a bit at the views. Brock was especially excited about the ride. He watched the fish in the river below and the cars on the street as we rose higher and higher wither sheer joy.
All the reviews I read prior recommended taking the lift for the views but also because it was a quick walk to the castle from the top. The reviews were dead wrong. It was not quick, although I guess it was quicker than walking up from the bottom. When we first started the walk, I suggested this would be a good trip for when my parents and grandparents visit, and I quickly changed my mind. It was a serious hike. I was never so thankful to be wearing Nike’s instead of my usual Converse. We were hiking down to the castle, which was odd, but it really pushed the point home. If it was this hard going down, what would the return be like?
The original castle was built between the 11th and 14th centuries by a family with close connections to the Royal Family of France and the German imperial court. The castle survived until 1820 when it was sold, piece by piece. It was all but completely ruined until 1977 when reconstruction was started by the State. When we learned this, it all made sense. The castle was so stunningly perfect from the outside because it was only 35 years old!
One room was devoted to the reconstruction and had a timeline of pictures taken during the reconstruction process which was really cool to see. Most of the other interior rooms, however, were empty. Only maybe 5 rooms had artifacts which included medieval dining, bedroom, kitchen, and armory (I use that word lightly, it was 4 sets of armor, some spears and cannon balls). The main hall had a really interesting/violent tapestry hanging above a massive carved bench.
The interior rooms were really interesting because we basically had free reign. We purchased an English audio handheld for 2 € and then wandered from room to room, playing the corresponding audio chapter as we went. If we had planned a little better we would have delayed our trip by a day and toured while also shopping the medieval market. It was being set up in many of the rooms as we wondered about.
We explored for hours and completely lost track of time. Most tours only last 30 minutes, but we were there for hours! At every window we would stop and take in the picturesque village below.
So far all the castles I have been to were original. Vianden was the first full reconstruction and I wasn’t disappointed. Yes, it looked new, but not as “new” looking as Neuschwanstein. But because of it’s assuredly secure construction there was no fear of the visitors breaking something. It was really fun to just walk and take pictures as we pleased. Especially fun that Brock was really into walking around the castle holding our hands to keep balance on the uneven cobblestones.
As predicted, the hike back up to the lift was not fun at all. Especially wearing Brock in the heat. I actually got a bit dehydrated and we stopped for water before taking the lift back down 😳 .
I am so glad we ventured into Luxembourg and I plan to explore more! Luxembourg has the most castles per capita of any European country and it is closer to us than many of the big sights of Germany!