Luxembourg’s Bourscheid Castle

by Scott Manning on May 6, 2013

On the way to Bastogne, I passed a sign pointing to a castle. I was feeling adventurous, so I went 10 miles out of my way to visit the Bourscheid Castle. It was well worth the detour.

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As you approach the castle, there is a superb spot for panoramic shots of the castle and valley.

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Covering nearly 130,000 square feet, the Bourscheid Castle sports 11 watchtowers, one keep, and several rings of walls. It sits 165 yards above the winding River Sûre. The last of the Bourscheids died in 1512, but the spot had seen occupation by numerous groups before and after the Bourscheid reign. Evacuations have revealed evidence of Ottonian, Carolingian, Merovingian, and Roman era fortifications. After the Bourscheids, several groups occupied it until the capture by French revolutionary troops in 1794-1795. The Luxembourg government took ownership in 1972 after 150 years of private ownership.


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The castle is a goldmine for medieval fortifications. Where there was once a drawbridge, the visitor immediately comes across loops for bows.

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The way the wall funnels to a narrow opening provided superb cover for archers attacking targets outside the walls.

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The most prominent fortifications are the multiple sets of walls.

Bourscheid Shield Walls

The internal fourteenth-century shield walls rest upon a massive rock, which helps defend against sappers. In addition, it made the walls even higher to defend against ladders.

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This video provides more perspective on the internal shield walls.

From these walls, you can see the lower area of the castle.

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Along with the inner and outer walls, are the defensive towers.

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These towers are all open on the inside of the castle. There are no stairs, as defends would use ladders to climb to the heights and defend.

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The innermost part of the castle features the keep, the last defense against attackers.

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When you stand below it, it is intimidating.

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Aside from sitting on an elevated position, the keep has a superb view of the River Sûre and the valley below.

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This video provides better perspective of the River Sûre.

The oldest fortifications visible to the visitor date back to the eleventh-century, around the period where stone began to replace wood in medieval defenses.

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This video provides a better perspective of the eleventh-century remains.

The Luxembourg government has put together a superb audio tour available in English. It offers descriptions of the castle from a modern-day perspective, as well as descriptions from Victor Hugo who visited the castle in the nineteenth-century.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jean May 8, 2013 at 7:13 AM

I visited castle as a child. It is just one but many in Luxembourg and Belgium. YOu should visit more and do more posts. Thank you.

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2 Edna Wall May 15, 2013 at 9:36 AM

The 14th Duke of Norfolk, Henry Granville, began restoration of the castle but he died before it was finished. We owe much to what we now see at the castle to his son, Henry, 15th Duke of Norfolk (1847-1917). He used the best Victorian craftsmen and the most up-to-date domestic technology. His remodeling can be clearly seen in the “Victorian battlements lining the easternmost bailey, now called the Quadrangle, which superseded the walls of the original fortress. The structures that now surround the Quadrangle are probably very similar in function to timbers buildings that would have stood inside the medieval bailey, and include the state apartments and private living quarters.” Described as “visual paradises” these rooms are furnished with lovely “ornate furniture”. Arundel was one of the first English country houses to have electricity, integral fire fighting equipment, service elevators and central heating.

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