The first written evidence of Esch-sur-Sûre is found in the “Liber aureus Epternacensis”, the golden book of Echternach abbey according to which a certain Nebelungus is said to have donated his properties and serfs to the abbey. This act was written in the third year of Charlemagne’s reign, between 9th October 773 and 9th October 774. On 3rd June 927, Meginaud (aka Maingaud) acquired the site of Esch-sur-Sûre in a deal with the abbey of Stavelot. He erected an 8×8 metre square residential tower as well as buildings for agricultural use.
At the end of the 11th Century, the brothers Henry I and Godfrey I took part in preparations for the First Crusade and hence they could not work on the castle. The last two counts of Esch expanded their castle and its territory considerably. At the time the county of Esch-sur-Sûre included 19 hamlets and villages and extended down to Diekirch.
The first buildings of the castle were thus constructed in the Romanesque period, whilst its development took place in the Gothic period. With the advent of gunpowder in the 15th Century, it became necessary to adjust the defensive system. To this end the whole village was surrounded by a 450 metres long and 1.5 metre thick rampart with two defensive towers. The round watchtower was fortified at the same time.
The castle declined from the mid-16th Century to the 19th Century. After the capture of the fortress of Luxembourg in 1684, the troops of Louis XIV began dismantling the country’s strongholds. In Esch-sur-Sûre, the rampart was not destroyed because private houses were backing onto the walls. In fact some are still standing now, check out the lane next to the town hall.
By the mid 19th Century the castle passed into the hands of citizens who lived there. When Victor Hugo visited the village on the Sûre in the summer of 1871, the castle was still inhabited by several families. The chapel was restored in 1906. Today, only consolidated ruins are left to remind us of the proud history of the counts of Esch-sur-Sûre. The new illuminations give the castle a fairy tale look, well worth the detour.