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Wiltz Castle History

 

Historical drawing by Nicolas Liez (1834)

 

 

History

 

In the 13th century, the Lords of Wiltz built a fortified castle on a rocky promontory, initiating the development of the upper town of Wiltz. In 1388, the French attacked the town and burnt the castle down but it was soon repaired. In 1453, Wiltz was again attacked, this time by the troops of Philip of Burgundy. The round Witches' Tower to the east of the gardens is the oldest part of today's castle. Under Count John VI of Wiltz, the construction of today's Renaissiance style castle was begun in 1631. After delays caused by the Thirty Years War, the main building was not completed until about 1720. The old chapel was finished in 1722 and the monumental staircase leading down to the gardens was completed in 1727. The castle premises were acquired by the State of Luxembourg in 1951 for use as an old people's home

 The music festival

 

Since 1953, Wiltz Castle has been the venue of an international music festival attracting artists and orchestras of international repute. Not only classical music but also jazz and rock is included in the festival which runs for three weeks from late June to mid-July. In 1991, a removable roof was installed, covering most of the stage and sheltering the hundreds of spectators who would otherwise have been bothered by bad weather.

 Brewing and tanning museums

 

Since 1999, the castle's stables have housed the National Museum of Brewing (Musée National d'Art Brassicole). The museum traces the history of beer production over the past 6,000 years, especially more recent developments in Luxembourg.

The little tanning museum (Musée de la Tannerie) presents the history of the leather industry in Wiltz which dates from 1644. In 1887, the town had 28 tanneries.

The two largest producers closed in 1953 and 1961.

 War Museum

 

The museum is dedicated principally to terrifying experience of the Battle of the Bulge, fought between 16th December 1944 and 21st January 1945, the date when Wiltz was finally liberated.

Photos bring to life the heroism of soldiers and civilians that contributed to the final liberation of the Grand Duchy and the northern Oesling region. As well, extra insight is given by the documents, paintings, uniforms, and military hardware on display.

Explaining the suffering of combatants and local residents was the key goal of the museum’s curators.  Extensive loss of life and property were inevitable in this brutal fight for freedom.  Models are used highlight some of the key phases of the war as they affected Wiltz: the Battle of the Bulge; the period before conscription was introduced from 31st August 1942; the strike and martydom of six local citizens; the liberation on 10th September 1944; GIs meeting Wiltz residents; St Nicholas day with GIs; the start of the Battle of Bulge (including the 28th Infantry Division preparing for combat and the adversaries around Schumann’s Eck; the end of the battle on 21 January 1945, the promise taken by the priest and inhabitants in the cellar of the priest’s house. Together, the exhibits explain to visitors why Wiltz is called a “Martyred City”.

 

 

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