Enchanting Gardens of the Grand Château d’Ansembourg

Enchanting Gardens of the Grand Château d’Ansembourg

with 16 Comments

 

When you have to wait for over a decade to marry the person you love, you owe it to yourself to find the perfect venue to celebrate your long-awaited union. As we were anxiously waiting for the law to pass, we set our eyes on the most romantic spots in Luxembourg. Little did we suspect where our quest would lead us to…

 

Leaving behind Mersch, we were driving through undulating woods and stream-embroidered meadowlands. Once out of the woods, we were greeted by a hidden gem on our left:

 

The Grand Château d’Ansembourg

 

Located in central Luxembourg, the New Castle of Ansembourg belongs to the famous “Valley of the Seven Castles”. This valley is crossed by the river Eisch, and is named after the group of seven castles that line its route: Mersch, Schoenfels, Hollenfels, the Old and New Castles of Ansembourg, Septfontaines, and Koerich.

 

The Grand Château of Ansembourg was built in 1639 by Thomas Bidart. During the Thirty Year’s War, this pioneer of Luxembourg’s iron and steel industry exploited the region’s timber and iron to manufacture arms. He soon prospered and decided to build a “new” castle in the valley of Ansembourg, surrounded by stone walls and towers.

 

The New Castle of Ansembourg, Luxembourg © Travelwithmk.com
The New Castle of Ansembourg, Luxembourg © Travelwithmk.com

 

But the way the castle looks today is due to the De Marchant family who inherited the New Castle of Ansembourg by marriage. In 1719, they added two wings on each side of the original building. The southern gable was then enhanced with five sublime arches. The one in the middle serves as a gateway, whereas the two arches on each side are adorned with statues representing the four continents (back then, only 4 continents were known).

 

From enigmatic fountains to idyllic alleys

 

From the great arcade a staircase leads to an enigmatic fountain. It is a large basin formed as a clover. In the center of the fountain stands a water-spouting Triton riding a sea monster. A tribute to Bernini’s Triton Fountain in Rome? What clearly is not inspired by Bernini’s work are the four frogs perched at the corners of the fountain.

 

Frogs have always played a major role in Western culture as a dual symbol: the darker magical-demoniac side, as well as the positive symbol of transformation. The shape-shifting frog – from round egg to tadpole to long-limbed amphibian – often represents humans’ metamorphosis, from child to old man, from non-initiated, ignorant, to initiated, wise. The four frogs at the fountain may symbolize the soul’s journey, even its possible reincarnation.

 

The stone lions located further into the gardens are not less surprising: they discharge water into shells held by monkeys. We have been to many castles and museums in Europe, but rarely encounter apes in sculpture. The ape is often a distorted image of men. In paintings, monkeys function as emblems of the “bad artist” or of human stupidity and ignorance. So, the question is: what are they doing here?

 

 

The dripping or weeping fountain is yet another strange phenomenon. The structure of 3 levels may yet again infer different stages in life. At the southern end of the park hides the Fountain of Hell. It looks like a miniature grotto. Charon, the ferryman of Hades, may not be far away…

 

Between 1740 and 1750, the Count further improved the gardens by providing them with a baroque touch: walking down a long alley, we were mesmerized by sculptures representing antique deities standing on both sides of the romantic path. Among the 8 statues are Hercules, Venus, Hermes, and Artemis.

 

Not far from there begins the garden’s labyrinth. This perfect place for hide-and-seek is another symbol of the complex route towards knowledge acquisition and illumination.

 

Today’s mysterious landlords

 

Now stretching over 5.1 hectares, of which 3.5 ha are lush with garden, the New Castle of Ansembourg was rented to the “Miami University” for some time. However, the building was in ruins, and as local authorities took too much time to react, the Count of Ansembourg sold the castle to Sûkyô Mahikari in the mid-1980’s, presumably so his statues wouldn’t be liquidated along with his gigantic library of over 12,000 volumes.

 

According to Internet sources, the “Sûkyô Mahikari” is a Japanese sect whose founder and members believe in spiritual energy and the healing powers of True Light. It seems like the organization is supported by voluntary donations. We are unsure at this point whether members of this organization in Luxembourg have to pay a monthly membership fee. But if they do, it seems that a fraction of these monies are put to good use in maintaining the castle and its gardens. Parts of the castle are still being restored. But as far as we can tell, they carry out serious work.

 

Mei and Kerstin at the Castle of Ansembourg, Luxembourg. Photo by Jessica Sesko
Mei and Kerstin at the Castle of Ansembourg, Luxembourg. Photo by Jessica Sesko

 

We ended up celebrating our wedding at another venue in Luxembourg. But when our photographer asked us to choose a place for our engagement photo session, we couldn’t refuse spending a poetic afternoon in the idyllic gardens of the Grand Château d’Ansembourg.

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The Gardens of the Castle of Ansembourg, Luxembourg © Travelwithmk.com

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Travelers - Storytellers

Travelers at heart, Mei and Kerstin have been roaming the world together since 2002. Expats for over a decade, they used to live in Bordeaux, Paris, Athens, and San Francisco. They recently returned to their motherland to get married, and decided to stay to re-explore Luxembourg in depth, while continuing to feed their wanderlust by traveling the world whenever they can.

16 Responses

  1. Mia Herman
    | Reply

    I had no idea that monkeys were a symbol of bad artist or that they were considered negative in any way. I love how you pointed out that they exist at the Grand Château d’Ansembourg. I wonder if the artist, or whoever commissioned the statue, didn’t believe the stories about the monkeys. Either way, this is a stunning place to visit and an even better place to bet married! Congrats!!

  2. mags
    | Reply

    It’s so beautiful there! Like a real life fairy tale.

  3. authenticfoodquest
    | Reply

    Congratulations on your recent wedding. Wishing you both a long and happy marriage. Chateau Ansebourg is absolutely beautiful, and the perfect venue for your engagement photos. Interesting story and the ownership of the place and the mysterious owners. Quite intriguing!!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Thank you for the nice wishes, girls! We too keep being intrigued by the Ansembourg Castle. You should definitely visit this enchanting place (and many other castles!) when you come to Luxembourg. 🙂

  4. Beautiful place for wedding photography for sure! Glad to hear that the Grand Château d’Ansembourg is slowly being restored – I hadn’t heard of the valley of the seven castles, though do hope to visit Luxembourg on our next trip to Europe. I wonder why the University of Miami sold such a beautiful place. Probably couldn’t invest in fixing it up to it’s former state.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Yes, we’re also glad that the Château d’Ansembourg is being restored now. The University of Miami might have moved away, but they’re now in another beautiful castle. In Differdange actually, which is in the south of Luxembourg. 😉

  5. Genie Patra
    | Reply

    Looks like such a beautiful place! I would love to visit one day. Castles are my favorite. I love how they make you feel like you in a fairytale but also hold so much history

  6. SherianneKay
    | Reply

    I spent one pretty miserable rainy day in Luxembourg during Christmas Market season and I know It would be somewhere I would love when the weather cooperated, didn’t know this existed so now I’m ready!

  7. Brianna
    | Reply

    Chateau Ansebourg is straight out of a fairytale. I can see why you would want your engagement pictures here!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Yes, it is! And it’s always a pleasure to return to this wonderful castle and its gardens.

  8. Jenn and Ed Coleman
    | Reply

    Is it an oxymoron in life, or perhaps just a vexing question – where does the vagabond go for a destination wedding. I guess the answer turns out to be returning to their motherland. Of course, when that’s Luxembourg you can’t go wrong. Lovely pictures and I wish the best of luck for you two.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Thank you guys! We initially wanted to celebrate our wedding in Santorini, Greece. But then, our friends and family would have to travel to Santorini too (which not everyone wanted to, or could afford it). But in the end, we were glad to have celebrated it in our motherland. It was fun to reexplore and discover the many beautiful castles in Luxembourg!

  9. Rachel Elizabeth
    | Reply

    Oh wow! Gorgeous! I’ve visited Luxembourg City, but didn’t have an opportunity to travel outside the city. The chateau is stunning, and the perfect place to have a wedding! I want to move in, haha.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Haha! Sure, come to Luxembourg again, and we’ll show you more fascinating castles! 🙂

  10. danik
    | Reply

    I love castles in Europe and as a photographer, I find them very enchanting to capture them. I have to admit I never heard of Ansembourg before, so will look more into this.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      People who visit Luxembourg usually stay in the capital, or go to the castles of Vianden or Clervaux up north. So, Ansembourg is (still) not quite touristy for now. That’s propably why you never heard of it. 🙂

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