Thursday, April 4, 2013

Luxarazzi 101: Château de Fischbach

Château de Fischbach, Schloss Fischbach or Schlass Fëschbech – depending which of Luxembourg’s three official languages you prefer – is located close to the town of Fischbach in Central Luxembourg.

The Fischbach estate is one of the oldest in the country. Originally owned by the Abbey of Echternach, it first non-religious owner was Udo of Fischbach, who bought the castle in 1050. In the following centuries, the castle undertook various renovations and alterations while the ownership changed a couple of times.

The Château de Fischbach in 1834

The Lords of Fischbach fought in the Battle of Worringen, one of the largest battles in Europe during the Middle Ages, in 1288. The estate belonged to the family until 1466, when the heiress Angèle of Fischbach married Henri de Boland, Lord of Rollé and Esch-sur-Sûre.

When the new owners of the estate died out in 1571, it passed to Bernard II of Orley, Lord of Linster and Meysembourg. In 1628, François de Cassal, a man of Wallonian nobility ennobled in 1644 by King Philip IV of Spain, bought parts of the castle.

In 1635, during the Thirty Year War, the castle was burned down by the Polish of the army of Duke François of Lorraine. The reconstruction of the central building by Count Edmond of Schwarzenberg was completed three years later. In 1674, the descendants of François de Cassal purchased the parts of the castle that did not belong to them yet.

Sometime later the castle was acquired by Auguste Garnier, industrial and metallurgist. He granted the ownership to the S.A. Belge des Hauts Fourneaux and in 1768 a blast furnace and a smithy were built on the estate. He was the last non-royal owner of the castle.

Much like the Château de Berg, King-Grand Duke William II bought the Château de Fischbach to regain control over Luxembourg and to placate its population after the Belgian Revolution in 1847. He immediately commanded that the furnaces erected by Garnier should be demolished.

The castle during the 1980's
In 1884 Duke Adolph of Nassau, who six years later would become Grand Duke of Luxembourg, bought the castle from his Dutch cousin King-Grand Duke William III.

During the Second World War the Nazis took over the castle and made it into a home for artists calling it Künstlerheim Fischbach. Much like it happened to other residences of the Grand Ducal Family, the majority of furniture and art were stolen and sold during that time.

When Grand Duchess Charlotte returned to Luxembourg in 1945, the Château de Fischbach was the only inhabitable castle in her possession and thus she moved into the castle with her family. Even after the restorations of her other residences were finished, she chose to stay at the castle out of personal preference. Until his death in 1977 Prince Charles and his family lived together with his parents in the castle, as did his sister Princess Elisabeth and her daughters for many years.

The Château de Fischbach in 2000 (Photo: Tom Wagner)
Two years after Grand Duchess Charlotte had died in 1985, then Hereditary Grand Duke Henri and Hereditary Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa moved into the castle; it is where their five children spent the majority of their childhood until the family moved into the Château de Berg in 2002. Smaller family occassions such as christenings and first communions usually took place at the castle and the parish church of the village nearby.

The same year Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte moved into the Château de Fischbach. In 2005, the Grand Duchess died of lung cancer at the castle surrounded by her family. Grand Duke Jean’s sister Princess Elisabeth spent the last years of her life at the castle where she died in November 2011.

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