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"Vianden - Turd Birds" Vianden by JohnnySpangles

Vianden Travel Guide: 77 reviews and 271 photos

Vianden is a small town right on the very edge of eastern Luxemburg. Indeed it is hanging on so precariously to the side of a Luxemburgish hill that it may one day fall into Germany. The locals have wisely prepared for this eventuality as they’ve all learned German. I didn’t realise it was so close to Germany. My teenage son had always wanted to tick Germany off on his ‘countries visited’ list. When I showed him the google-earth image on our return it somewhat peeved him to see that he was so close to Germany that if he’d spat from the castle ramparts his gozza would have landed on German soil. Still, being peevish is one of the joys of spotty adolescence, along with being stroppy, sweary and ungrateful.

The Viandenburgers, which is possibly what they are called, have always cherished their Non-Germanic status and there was a Battle of Vianden in WWII to prove the point. Although the Allies were a little tardy in helping the locals out and thus Vianden was the last place in Luxembourg to be liberated from the Nazis. Consequently the resistance had to suffer the brutal unpleasantness of German occupation for quite a long time. The older locals remember it with some bitterness. I’m not sure whether the castle was what they were scrapping over, but it certainly took a pounding at some stage in its long history. Up until a few years ago it was nothing but ruins, with only the odd vampire flapping about the place. Since then there’s been a long restoration campaign which culminated in ITV sending in the ‘60 Minute Makeover’ team, while the owners were out at a gynaecologist’s appointment. So now it has a full set of MDF turrets and battlements for you to throw your ungrateful kids off.

We caught the castle on a good day as there was a medieval festival in full swing. This means you can’t get in totally free on your Luxembourg Card (a bargain at a mere 20 Euros a day) but you only had to pay a 4 Euro surcharge. There were plenty of entertainments to be had with swordplay, juggling, market stalls, dog-unicorns and a scantily clad belly dancer with a snake. I took a lot of video footage of the snake. Indeed I nearly got ejected for going back three times for more footage of the snake.

There were lots of things to buy and there was a particularly large queue for a man dressed in tights with a large codpiece who was busy fashioning birds out of what looked like cow-dung. He’d then plonk the turdy-birdie on a stick for the beaming little child to wander off with and hopefully not get confused with its ice-cream.

If you get bored of the castle then there’s also a chair-lift in Vianden which takes you up to the top of a hill that’s even higher than the one the castle is perched on. One return ride is free with your Luxembourg Card, and that’s about all you’d want unless you’re particularly keen on having your life hanging by a welded joint that really asks big questions of your faith in Luxemburgish engineering.

Before I got on the ride I asked if it ever gets stuck and leaves its riders dangling in mid-air overnight. The grizzled old chap in the ticket office told me that this doesn’t happen very often. By sheer coincidence it has only ever happened when there’s been a particularly big bus-load of tourists that’s come over the border from Germany.

  • Last visit to Vianden: Aug 2011
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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