“Vianden” derives from the Gallic word “vien”, which means “rocky”. That little town with less than 2000 inhabitants is in the warmer months so flooded with tourists or with just taking a walk neighbors from the neighboring Germany and Belgium, that people can hardly pass each other on the narrow pavements and would wonder in which densely populated city they have arrived.
These photographs are made out of the height of the season, waiting as much as possible for the people to walk away. I don’t like people sauntering in my photographs but this is often inevitable.
The first thing to see from afar from the town is the fortified castle, Château de Vianden. From the website of the castle we can learn that, erected between the 11th and 14th centuries on the foundations of a Roman fort and a Carolingian refuge, it is considered „one of the largest and most beautiful feudal residences of the Romanesque and Gothic periods in Europe“, a property of the Counts of Vianden.
The inner courtyard.
This is the Byzantine gallery, 28-metre-long, with its trefoiled windows.
The castle chapel is placed on the foundations of a former ten-angled tower house of Carolingian origin. It is a specific type of chapel, consisting of two levels. The lower chapel (the left photograph) was intended for the common people. For a long time, it served as a church for the inhabitants of Vianden, before the Trinitarian Church or the church of the Trinitarians was built in the town, whereas the upper chapel (to the right) was destined for the noble occupants of the castle. The upper chapel is in late Romanesque style. At the bottom of the photograph is the opening from which, like in a well, you can see the lower floor.
The Order of the Most Holy Trinity or the Trinitarian Order was founded in 1198 with the purpose of ransoming the knights taken captives by the Muslims during the Crusades. So Count Frederick III of Vianden was taken captive during the Fifth Crusade and was ransomed by representatives of the Order in exchange for the newly built hospital that his son presented to them in his capacity as a deputy ruler of the town. Thus, he called the Trinitarians who primarily came from Picardy, France to Vianden. That happened in 1248. The same year they built a church and a monastery.
The church is considered one of the most beautiful Gothic buildings in Luxembourg.
Over the west portal, there is a statue of Virgin Mary from the 14th century.
The high altar in Rococo style dates from 1758. The organ is from 1693.
Two sepulchres in the church – that of Countess Maria von Spanheim with whose death in 1400 ended the family of the Counts of Vianden and that of Count Heinrich von Nassau.
A statue of the Trinitarian Virgin from the 17th century with the Trinitarian cross on its chest.
The Gothic cloister that leads to the former monastery was long closed, but during my last visit in town, I had the chance to visit it at long last. I love cloisters, even though I can’t explain what exactly attracts me to them, as well as to the castles.
Stone relief with the image of the famous scene with Saint Hubert, whom we already know – a piece of craftsmanship by an unknown master.
The town hall of Vianden is a former administrative building of the County Vianden from the 15th century. Later, it became a possession of two noble families. From 1950 on, it houses the town hall and its today’s appearance dates from the 17th and the 18th centuries. And, as we’ve just seen, Vianden was the birthplace of many knights, so the figure on the door is not randomly selected (although the other symbols, to the right, are more interesting to me).
Another church in Vianden – St. Nicholas. I’m glad that I’ve obtained the issue „Vianden, Kirchen und Kapellen/Churches and chapels“ so that I can be able to declare with certainty that it was built by the Knights Templar. I couldn’t find any information about this church elsewhere. Erected in 1256 by the Knights Templar, after the dissolution of the Order, it was transferred in 1312 to the Order of St. John/Order of Hospitallers and at that time St. Nicholas became its patron.
Its appearance nowadays dates from 1723-4 when it was rebuilt after a fire. The altar is from 1768.
And last but not least, the Chapel of Sodality of Our Lady from 1761. It seems that that little town was a roadside station of numerous orders and fraternities.
Just about to forget – there is one more thing that Vianden is famous for. This is Victor Hugo.
Victor Hugo (whom I will mention again further) visited the town five times and in 1871, he requested political asylum here. With a series of episodes from his personal life takes Vianden great pride in, including the love affair that he was involved in, well advanced in years, with an 18-year-old native girl (he is born in 1802). The house he has occupied is converted into a museum in 1935.
Our River (its name derives from the Indo-Germanic word for water – “ur”) flowing through Vianden, with its fountain installations. The river will be mentioned at least on another two occasions.