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To the mountains of Luxembourg: Little Switzerland

Home -> Europe -> Luxembourg -> Travelogue Luxembourg -> 14 March 2007

Wednesday 14 March, to the mountains of Luxembourg: Little Switzerland

We are really lucky this week, again it is sunny and not too cold, about 16 to 17 degrees. There is a slight mist in the air, but it can not bother us, we had expected it to be much colder anyway, so half March. And not a drop of rain yet!
Diekirch donkey town Diekirch, doneky fountainOn our way to Little Switzerland we stop in Diekirch to walk around and have a cup of coffee, of course outside on a terrace. In the old part of town you can see donkeys (as statues) and the mascot of the city. There is even an annual donkey procession. The probable explanation for this is that the farmers used donkeys on the slopes where they had fields and vineyards and also transported the freight to the market in Diekirch by donkey. Again, it is fairly quiet, very different than during the summer holidays.
Little Switzerland Little SwitzerlandThe area between roughly Larochette and Echternach is called La Petite Suisse, so Little Switzerland. It is a region with bizarre rocks, narrow gorges, caves and waterfalls. It is of course not comparable with the real Switzerland, but it does attract tourists. After the last ice age, the meltwater has cut its way through the narrow valleys and the soft sandstone rocks. Many rocks have whimsical and curious shapes and the locals have invented many names in the course of time, such as the Pulpit Rock, the Wolf's Shaft or the Eagle's Nest. The Mullerthal runs centrally in Little Switzerland.
Little Switzerland Little SwitzerlandHere and there are parking places where you can park your car to take walks, but you can also park in a village and then walk. We take a long walk near Berdorf, where you first go up through a very narrow gorge. It is not only pure nature since stairs have been laid in various places and iron railings have been put in dangerous spots, all for the convenience of the tourists, but nature lovers will be less charmed.
Little Switzerland Little SwitzerlandWe descend and climb a lot and we start to sweat in the spring sun while the ground is still littered with the leaves of last fall. Trees seem to spring from the rocks. The climate in this small part of Luxembourg is remarkably humid, a kind of micro-climate area with a humidity of almost 100% throughout the year. There are of course all kinds of stories associated with the names of the different rock formations, petrified elves and gnomes, people who were enchanted by magicians and fairytale palaces. Unfortunately, we have not found much information about that.
Little SwitzerlandOver the slippery leaves we descend (more gliding than walking) steeply towards the road and walk back to the car. We have made quite a long walk, we are not such long-distance hikers (sore back, sore feet, we become a bit older ...). Now it's time for a short break and a cup of coffee, so we drive to Echternach.
Echternach St. Willibrord abbey, EchternachWe park near the bridge that crosses the border with Germany. Echternach has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries because of the tomb of Willibrord, in the Netherlands also known as a preacher among the Frisians and the first bishop of Utrecht. The church he got in Echternach became bigger and bigger and eventually became a rich and powerful monastery.
village square  EchternachBecause of the presence of the monastery, the village of Echternach also became increasingly important and became a lively marketplace. However, over the centuries it has been destroyed several times, plundered by the Normans and even completely burned down in the 15th century. The current center has been rebuilt and preserved after that fire. What strikes us most is that there are at least three large pharmacies on the corners of the square. Would there still be many sick people on pilgrimage, or is this a very unhealthy village?
village square  Echternach EchternachThe photo on the left also contains a reconstruction of the 'la croix de justice'. A suspect had to confess guilt here on his knees (guilty or not) and that did not always go mildly. In vain, a group of citizens has opposed the placement of the cross but it will mainly be meant to attract tourists. A nice detail is the slate roofs that are funny (but probably very efficient) curling up against the dormer windows.
In the summer Echternach is a crowded place. Besides nature there are also several museums, most of which are still closed. We entertain ourselves on the terrace where more and more Luxembourgers go. Except for a single place, we have seen mainly extinct villages and towns so far with no people on the streets.
Ernz Noire SchiessentümpelIf we drive towards Larochette we pass the Schiessentümpel, a stone bridge above a mini-waterfall which is artifical by the way, in the vicinity of Consdorf. It is the most visited attraction of the Müllerthal, but now there is no one at all and we walk around a bit; also from here you can make beautiful walks.
Castle in Larochette LarochetteLarochette (meaning little rock) is dominated by the castle on the rock. Opposite the castle is a watchtower called 'Verlorenkost' (Dutch for lost food). During the construction, a woman who brought the masons the food tripped, the pots broke and the food was lost. The square in the center is somewhat abandoned, only some children are playing football in front of the St. Donatus Church. After a short walk we drive further, looking for castle Meysembourg.
Meysemburg is privately owned and seems to come straight out of a fairytale. We try to get there by car, but all roads are deadends and it turns out that you only can walk to it. We have already walked so much today that we do not really feel like it anymore. One of the dead end roads runs along a new housing estate on the edge of a village with large villas. On a porch a whole family is enjoying the afternoon sun in shabby clothes. Of course they watch us when we enter the dead-end path and have fun when they see us returning a bit later. It is a pity that we were not able to take a picture of this secretly.
We are back in our house a bit later than usual, the sun is already setting and we sit down tired. Fortunately, we still have a long, relaxed evening for us and we do not need to go anywhere anymore.


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