Sunday, 8 June 2014

Going via Vianden

You don't stay lost for long in Luxembourg.

In a country only a little bigger than Australia's ACT, you either quickly discover where you are or inadvertently cross into another country.

Emboldened by this fact, I set off to explore one of the Grand Duchy's more northern towns: Vianden.

The town of Vianden overlooked by a castle
Armed with a cheap travel card allowing me to use all public transport in the "entire" country, I make the hour or so journey from Luxembourg city by train and then bus.

Weaving through rolling hills and impossibly green fields and forests, I wonder if I will know when I've actually arrived at Vianden.   After all, it's a small town with only about 1,800 people.   If I blink I could miss it and end up in Germany.

Vianden Castle

I needn't have worried.  High on a rocky outcrop overlooking the town is Vianden Castle - I couldn't ask for a more prominent sign from above that I've hit the right place.
The castle from the chairlift

Inside the castle grounds

A castle was first build here in the eleventh century, but the current version is a 1970s remake on the medieval ruins (thankfully without the shag pile carpet and mission brown bean bags).

It's still an impressive place because of its lofty location that sometimes gives you a vertigo-inducing view down to Vianden and the Our river the town sits along.

View over Vianden from the chairlift to the castle

Vianden's other big claim to fame is that French author Victor Hugo (as in Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame) stayed in Vianden on several occasions.  He took up residence in a house with one of the best views in town across the river towards the castle.

His time in Vianden is immortalised with a bust by Rodin on the town's bridge.

Rodin's bust of Victor Hugo
I'm pretty taken with Vianden and now that I have found it wish I could linger a little longer.  It has a fairytale-like quality, no doubt aided by the castle, but remains a quiet and functioning slice of Luxembourg.

It seems I'm not the only one who has been taken by Vianden's appeal.

The Our River at Vianden
"Vianden, embedded in a splendid landscape, will be visited one day by tourists form the world of Europe, attracted both by it sinister but magnificent ruin and by its cheerful and happy people."
Victor Hugo

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