Type : Visits of castles
The castle hosts the National Brewery Museum and Tannery Museum as well as the Battle of the Bulge Museum 1944/45.
Guided tour: 1 hour
Information and reservation:
The original Wiltz castle was situated in the lower town where the parish church is located nowadays. Though it was supposed to protect the town from its enemies, its location was so badly chosen that it kept being overrun. Therefore -in the late 12th Century- the lords of Wiltz built another larger castle on a rocky promontory above the banks of the river Wiltz. This part of town is now Oberwiltz.
In 1388 the castle and town were set on fire by the French besiegers and a new larger rampart was soon rebuilt. By the middle of the 15th Century when the Oesling nobility fought against Philip of Burgundy's invasion, the castle was destroyed a second time.
The oldest part of today's castle is the round “Witches Tower” on the northwest side. It was built in 1573 and subsequently restored twice. Since the 19th Century, Count Jan -the legendary armoured knight whom the good people of Wiltz have chosen as their eternal guardian- graces the roof of the multistory tower. The square tower dates from 1626, though it's built on older foundations. This tower used to be the main entrance, reached over a drawbridge. To the right of this bridge stood the “justice lime” hence the square outside the castle is still called “Lannepesch”.
On May 23, 1631, John VI of Wiltz (aka Count Jan) began building a new castle in the Renaissance style at the same location. The Thirty Year War, various sieges, famine and epidemics, however, were delaying the works by nearly a century. And so it was that Count Charles-Eugene de Custine, husband of Marie Françoise Xavière d'Arnoult, completed the castle only in 1720.
In 1722, the new chapel was built. Five years later, the magnificent staircase leading up to the castle gardens was completed. Since the 1950s it has served as the backdrop for the world famous Wiltz Festival featuring open air music and theatre.
The lords and counts of Wiltz are one of the oldest families in the country. Their lineage can be traced back to Walter Ist in the 12th Century and ends in the 18th Century with Theodore Francis de Paule de Custine de Wiltz, ruling no less than 21 generations. The lords of Beaufort and Meysemburg are among the noble families descended from the house of Wiltz.
At first they were merely titled “bailiff of Arlon”, the name “of Wiltz” occurs later. The oldest seal of Wiltz dates back to 1256 and adorns a document which was written under Walter III and is preserved to this day in Koblenz. In 1240 Wiltz received its first Letter of Freedom, renewed on 22 October 1437 by Godart IV. The colours of the Wiltz coat of arms are gold and red. The first Count of Wiltz, John VI (aka Jan), who governed from 1607 to 1648, was the most popular of all the rulers of Wiltz. He was made a Count on May 31, 1629 by the King of Spain.
Today you can admire him on the castle's witch tower, his statue's a weather vane. John VI did not have children of his own and therefore upon his death in 1648 the line of the Counts of Wiltz passed into the hands of his niece Marie Marguerite who married Christophe de Custine, Baron of Auflance, on 4 March 1656.
The new coat of arms is divided into quarters, the first and fourth quarters were gold and red to represent Wiltz and the second and third quarters were black and silver lilies representing Lombut. In the middle was a block of silver crossed by a black diagonal stripe and surrounded by two narrow sand coloured stripes representing Custine. The last Count of Wiltz, Theodore Francis Paule Custine de Wiltz, left town in 1793, fleeing the French Republican troops. He died in Bamberg on October 26, 1799.