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Luxembourg Travel & Holiday Tips


The capital of Luxembourg, Luxembourg-Ville, is split into two districts: the delightful old centre, complete with fortress towers, turrets and winding, cobblestone streets; and the modern downtown area on the plâteau du Krichberg – the Luxembourg version of Wall Street.

The city’s history goes back to the year 963 AD, when Siegfried, Count of the Ardennes, had a castle named Lucilinburhuc built on a rock overlooking the River Alzette. It was the famous French fortress builder Vauban who, at the service of Louis XIV, later turned Luxembourg into one of his masterpieces, suitably known as the ‘Gibraltar of the North’. At its height, the fortress was girdled by three ring-walls studded with 24 forts and linked underground by a 23 km network of underground tunnels. It survived until 1867, when it was dismantled according to the provisions of the Treaty of London. But many of the old fortifications remain well preserved to this day and, in 1994, the entire old part of Luxembourg-Ville was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Luxembourg City Tourist Office at the Place d’Armes can provide details and maps for numerous walks taking visitors past the city’s medieval remains and historic sites.

The underground tunnels, known as casemates, can also be visited. A special open-air tourist train called the ‘Petrusse Express’ offers frequent guided tours through the Petrusse Valley (from which many of the remaining fortifications can easily be viewed), giving visitors an insight into life in the former fortress, with commentaries in several languages. The train departs from underneath one of the arches of the Pont Adolphe viaduct. Tickets can be bought from the city tourist office.

Most of the city’s historical sites are easily visited on foot and a walk through the Petrusse and Alzette valleys (which are spanned by several bridges) offers excellent views of the ancient fortifications. The city’s main square, the Place d’Armes, has a number of outdoor cafes and restaurants although, after redevelopment, the square has lost some of its ‘French’ charm.

In the city centre, the area known as the Grund, near the River Alzette, has many lively cafes and restaurants; it can be reached via a lift going down through the ancient rock (with the entrance located on the square Fëschmaart above). Other attractions in the city centre include the recently renovated Palais Grand Ducal, the official residence of the Grand Duke, where visitors can observe the changing of the guard; the Place Guillaume (also called Knuedler) and its twice-weekly market (Wednesday and Saturday); and, near the Place Guillaume, the 17th century Notre Dame Cathedral.

Art lovers will find numerous galleries in the capital. Interesting museums include the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of History and Art and the Museum of the City of Luxembourg (whose architecture interestingly combines the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ and which displays a very detailed and informative account of Luxembourg’s colorful history).

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