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A visit to Luxembourg city

Home -> Europe -> Luxembourg -> Travelogue Luxembourg -> 15 March 2007

Thursday 15 March, a visit to Luxembourg city

Police behind us, customs for us. And we have to stop, 2 minutes after we have left our cottage on the way to Luxembourg City. We show all our id's and car papers, have to open the trunk and ware we really sure that we have no cannabis with us, because we are Dutch after all ... Our village Bigonville is just behind the border at Martelange so we understand that there is sometimes control. Unfortunately for the customs, they cannot fine us for anything, and then we are allowed to travel on. Tgrough Belgium we travel south to enter Luxembourg again and there the customs are again controlling, this time only for freight traffic. Maybe we shouldn't coss any more borders today.
Le Pont Adolphe, Luxembourg city Le Pont AdolpheIn Luxembourg we find a parking garage near the center fairly easily, but we do not quite understand where we are and initially walk in the wrong direction..
We first go south on the Aldof bridge. The bridge spans a narrow valley through which a very small river, the Pétrusse, flows. The slopes look steep and a little later we will notice that they are, too.
The valley of the Pétrusse Cathedral Notre-Dame, LuxembourgWhen we have walked a little we notice that we are on the wrong side and enter the valley via small stairs to climb up again on the other side, a decent walk for us. Actually, we found out that we were on the wrong side by looking at the map and discovering that this church should really be the Notre Dame in the old center and that is just as real on the other side of the valley.
Bronze statue, LuxembourgLuxembourg City is officially founded in 963, the capital of the Grand Duchy and the old center lies on a rock, the Bock, surrounded by fortified city walls and the famous casemates, a kind of bunkers built into the defensive works. There are less than 100,000 inhabitants living in the city itself (much smaller than the place wehre we live, Groningen), but it looks pretty big and there is a lot to see. We start at the cathedral and through some squares we quickly reach a terrace where we first order a cup of coffee. It is nice in the sun but it is a bit hazy.
We have been in the city a few times before (before we started the website) and there is a lot to tell about it. But here we will limit to a description of our walk, because most information can be found easily on the internet. What we notice on the terrace is the large number of suits: men (and women) who probably work for 'expensive' agencies, such as banks, insurance companies or one of the many European institutions that are located here. And now they have a lunch break. We also hear all kinds of languages, especially the increasingly popular Lëtzebuergesch, a mishmash where you often seem to recognize some intelligible Dutch or German words and than a lot of gibberish. It is, besides French and German, an official language of the country.
Luxembourg European center on mountain KirchThrough the old town we walk to the east where we have the best view of the area. In the northeast you can see a number of high towers that form the European center, a separate part of the city that just seems to have been built on the hills and not really fitting in with the rest of the city. And we see bridges, bridges everywhere over the deep-lying valleys. There seem to be more than 100 large and small bridges including a few very high and large ones.
We walk over the defense walls along the casemates. A casemate is a subterranean armored room where artillery can be placed. The casemates in Luxembourg not only housed the guns, soldiers and horses, but also bakeries, butchers and even workshops. The underground network was no less than 23 kilometers long, 17 kilometers of which have been preserved. Now the whole city center on the Bock rock including the casemates has been included on UNESCO's list of world culture heritage. Two casemates are open to the public: those of the Bock (partly excavated in 1745) and those of the Pétrusse valley (from 1644).
The district Grund, Luxembourg LuxembourgWhen we walk back on the south side of the walls, we look out at the lower town and the Grund district, with also some historical monuments. This was the village where the laborers lived who built the fortified city, nowadays there are many popular restaurants and terraces.
The casemates The casematesFrom the walls you can see how divided the city really is: the old city high on the rock, a lower city in the depth and a European district much further. Personally, we find views such as these the best and we are not the only ones who enjoy it. For the first time we encounter some more tourists armed with books and cameras.
Palace of the Grand DukeAlong the back of the Grand Ducal Palace, a renaissance-style building from the 16th century, we walk back into the city center. In August you can visit the palace, we are a little too early. Diagonally opposite the entrance of the palace we find a nice little shop with all kinds of trolls, witches and elf figures. We take a few nice witches with us, the largest of over 50 centimeters high costs only € 10.
Palace of the Grand Duke Palace of the Grand DukeThe palace is still inhabited by the Grand Duke (Henri at the moment) and so there are guards at the door. Two soldiers, one of whom moves his gun off his shoulder from time to time and the other walks stiffly back and forth. What a job, who wants to do that the whole day. If we try to look them straight in the eye, they quickly stare in a slightly different direction.
Statue of William IIOn Place Guillaume II there is an equestrian statue of King William II who was also Grand Duke of Luxembourg. After the fall of Napoleon in 1815, Luxembourg became an independent Grand Duchy and came under the personal management of the Dutch monarchs. But they could only be men, so when in 1890 Emma became regent for the successor of the throne Wilhelmina, the board was taken over by the Nassau-Weilburg family (instead of Oranje-Nassau).
Place d’ArmesAt the busy Place d'Armes we sit down on one of the terraces for some food. Luxury restaurants are located here between the MacDonalds and the Burgerking. The square seems to be quite full because of the large bandstand where in the summer there is always something going on. Tomorrow and Saturday there is a performance of all kinds of folk bands to celebrate the Irish Saint Patrick's Day. Luxembourg is the cultural capital of Europe in 2007 hence perhaps this Irish party.
Pirate playgardenWe can hardly get away from the terrace, it is so nice in the sun with a drink. But we have seen enough of the city and slowly walk back to the parking garage. Just behind it, we see a very nice playground, a large sandbox with a wooden ship that parents enjoy with their offspring. Something like that in the park before our house would be nice (nice for our granddaughter!).
Castle Bourglinster Castle HollenfelsWhen we leave Luxembourg City we visit a number of castles, just to look at them from the outside. Almost 100 fortresses have been preserved in the country, and within an hour we now pass 7, including that of Bourglinster (left) and Hollenfels which is now a youth hostel. We are now in the Vallée the Sept Châteaux (Valley of the 7 Castles) but these are the 2 most beautiful.
House at UseldangeIn Useldange there is also a castle, but we think this modern house is actually much nicer. We have often wondered on the website: why are there no longer of this kind of houses in the Netherlands, we have so many strict regulations that building a beautiful house is almost impossible? But well, first we go back to our own nice house to spend a relaxing evening. We still have enough books, so we are not bored for a minute!


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