New Castle of Ansembourg
The New Castle of Ansembourg (French: Grand Château d'Ansembourg), in central Luxembourg is one of the castles belonging to the Valley of the Seven Castles. Located about one kilometre or just over half a mile below the Old Castle of Ansembourg, it was built by the industrialist Thomas Bidart in 1639.
In 1639, Thomas Bidart built the central part of today's castle as a comfortable house surrounded by walls and towers, two of which still stand. Originally from Liège in Belgium, Bidart, who was a pioneer of Luxembourg's iron and steel industry, named the building Maison des Forges (House of the Ironworks). During the Thirty Years' War, he tapped the region's many water sources and exploited its timber and iron, manufacturing arms at a foundry close to the old castle. As a result, his family prospered, earning rights to the title of Lords of Amsembourg which had belonged to the Raville family until 1671.
It was the de Marchant family who, after inheriting the property by marriage, undertook its astonishing transformation into today's modern-looking castle. In 1719, the courtyard was extended with two wings on either side of the original building. The southern gable was enhanced with a magnificent arch where four statues represent the four continents. Fitted with two small towers, the new façade overlooked the gardens which were connected to the castle through an arcade. The first-floor balcony above the porch provided an excellent view of the gardens, complete with flowerbeds and a fountain. Between 1740 and 1750, Lambert Joseph de Marchant et d'Ansembourg further improved the gardens and extended the buildings on the north side of the main courtyard so that they could be used as stables and lodgings for the castle staff. In 1759, Count Lambert Joseph added the impressive Baroque gateway bearing the arms of de Marchant of Ansembourg and Velbruck.
The castle todayEdit
In the early 1970s the castle hosted an foreign studies program for students from three American private Catholic Colleges. Students lived in the newly created dorms on the second floor, and took classes in Literature, Art History, Music Education, and Foreign Language. They also assisted with art restoration and teaching music at DuPont International School. One of the partner colleges, Mercy College of Detroit, sent professors. Students had complete access to the castle and its furnishings, including the Music Room that had pink gilt furniture and a grand piano.
Since 1987, the castle has belonged to the Japanese new religious organisation Sûkyô Mahikari which uses the castle as its European and Africa headquarters and holds monthly Ceremonies and seminars throughout the year for its members. Sukyo Mahikari promotes such concepts as "The Baptism by Fire." which can be survived with "Salvation by Divine Light." The members claim to be able to radiate Divine Light from their hands after attending a three day seminar.
Sukyo Mahikari has undertaken substantial renovation work with the assistance of Luxembourg's Service des Sites et Monuments nationaux. Initially work was centred on reinforcing the foundations and walls and on restoring the staircase of honour on the upper terrace in the gardens. From 1999, the statues and the fountains in the garden were repaired while the roofs over the two wings and the central section were rebuilt. Work is now concentrated on restoring the oldest part of the building which dates from the 17th century.
The castle gardens are open to visitors from 9 am every day. The castle also hosts a number of cultural events during the year.
- Grand Château d'Ansembourg website (in French)
- "Jardin du grand château d'Ansembourg", Service des Sites et Monuments Nationaux. (in French) Retrieved 15 March 2011.
- "Plus de details sur l’histoire...", Grand Château d'Ansembourg. (in French) Retrieved 15 March 2011.
- "Restauration du château et promenade dans les jardins", Grand Château d'Ansembourg. (in French) Retrieved 15 March 2011.