Castles Vianden, Useldange, Larochette, and Beaufort
In which we suffer the dreaded castle sickness.
We came to Luxembourg for one very simple reason. Because we can only enjoy lunch if it costs over €100. Wait. That’s not it. It’s castles. Castles!
Our Luxembourgian adventure started somewhat inauspiciously when Google Maps tried to force us to break into the country via farm road. We decided not to ram the pole with our rental car.
After finding a more legitimate path, we wound our way down into the town of Vianden. WGW found a lunch spot that does hot stone cooking. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “Well hell, I could sure go for some hot oil splattered all over me,” but you don’t have a frying pan full of hot oil with you, hot stone cooking is the answer.
As we ate and suffered pin-sized burns, we gazed up the hill toward the majestic Castle Vianden, which has both legitimate Roman origins and more modern Romanesque architecture.
Since I was, by this time, partially fried by my lunch dish I was dreading a 100m trudge up the slope. Luckily, the locals are used to my brand of sloth, so they’ve got a ski lift to hoist half-fried hot-stone-victims across the river Our and up to the hilltop.
I’ve been on ski lifts once or twice but I don’t remember what this part is for. What do I put in here?
We Have Fun Storming the Castle
Castle Vianden is super cool. It’s well-preserved and finished inside in a way that a lot of old castles — even the ones shown in movies and TV shows — aren’t.
They have tons of great stuff, including these suits of armor which are designed to protect the wearer should they decide to order a meal from a hot stone cooking place.
Can you imagine wearing something like this and being ordered into battle? “Guys, I can’t fight in this thing. Look how nice the engraving is.1 Really, I want to do knight shit and all but come on.”
As we wandered Vianden Castle, ooh-ing and aah-ing at the architecture and whatnot, something came over us. A strange fever gripped our minds. We wanted more castles. We needed more castles. As many as we could get. Oh, shit! That could only mean one thing.
We were in the throes of the dreaded Castlemania.
Fortify my Eyeballs With All Your Castles
After studying the maps closely and getting some advice from the tourism office, we decided that it was theoretically possible to tour three castles in a day.
I know what you’re thinking. “Sweet Jimmy, that’s insane. Three castles? WGW could survive that but not you.” A valid assertion. But we did it anyway.
It is mostly ruin, but there’s still lots to see. You can go inside both the keep and the tower. The keep has all sorts of displays with information about the castle’s history and what life was like.
Château de Beaufort
From there, we moved up to Castle Beaufort. With its origins most likely in the 11th century — a pretty common starting date since that’s about when the idea of castles coalesced — Beaufort has a very “castley” feel to it. While it has had some conventions added to make tourism easier and more attractive, it’s not nearly as finished as Vianden.
For example, Beaufort has added a handful of torture devices in a “torture chamber” to pep up the tourism angle, even though neither the devices nor that use of the chamber were original.
Consider this face-cage-thing hanging from the ceiling.
I’m sure it would have been extremely painful to hang from my clamped head. But I can’t help wondering about the design meeting for the head cage. Who said, “Oh yeah and we should add some donkey ears too. That’ll be even more torture.”
Onward to Château de Larochette
Larochette is, in a way, the most ruined of the lot, except for a couple of improved buildings on site most notably the keep at left above. There was an art competition in progress which invited us to look at the photos on the walls and then use a slip of paper to vote our favorite.
The photos were hung on 4 floors going up stairway after stairway, finally culminating in the top floor attic which was an oven. I suspect the artists whose work is hung in the attic are going to get many fewer votes and it’s going to have more to do with the tired legs of the public than anything else.
Despite the blazing sun, we crawled all over the ruins like castle-mad bugs.
And the view down into the town of Larochette is spectacular.
Tired and hot but stuffed to the brim with castley-goodness, we retreated to our lodgings to recharge.
Thanks for reading. I hope you’re getting your fill of whatever mania grips you at the moment unless it’s bad for you.
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Or possibly etching, but still.