1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Vianden

VIANDEN, an ancient town in the grand duchy of Luxemburg, on the banks of the Our, close to the Prussian frontier. Pop. (1905) 2350. It possesses one of the oldest charters in Europe, granted early in the 14th century by Philip, count of Vianden, from whom the family of Nassau-Vianden sprang, and who was consequently the ancestor of William of Orange and Queen Wilhelmina of Holland. The semi-mythical foundress of this family was Bertha, “the White Lady” who figures in many German legends. The original name of Vianden was Viennensis or Vienna, and its probable derivation is from the Celtic Vien (rock). The extensive ruins of the ancient castle stand on an eminence of the little town, but the chapel which forms part of it was restored in 1849 by Prince Henry of the Netherlands. The size and importance of this castle in its prime may be gauged from the fact that the Knights' Hall could accommodate five hundred men-at-arms. A remarkable feature of the chapel is an hexagonal hole in the centre of the floor, opening upon a bare subterranean dungeon. This has been regarded as an instance of the “double chapel,” but it seems to have been constructed by order of the crusader Count Frederick II. on the model of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In the neighbourhood of Vianden are other ruined castles, notably those of Stolzemburg and Falkenstein. The little town and its pleasant surroundings have been praised by many, among others by Victor Hugo, who resided here on several occasions. During his last visit he wrote his fine work L'Année terrible. In the time of the Romans the Vianden valley was covered with vineyards, but at the present day its chief source of wealth is derived from the rearing of pigs.