A downtown perched on the sheer cliffs sloping into the deep ravines carved by the meandering Alzette and Pétrusse rivers. Or the natural fortifications of the city soaring high above the valleys and its impregnability winning it the historical epithet of the “Gibraltar of the North”. ‘Luxembourg City’ the capital city of the small country of Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is sure to enchant you with its charm.
Luxembourg City Train Station
We visited Luxembourg on a day trip from Paris one can also visit from Brussels. A two-hour train journey drove us through a beautiful landscape of rolling verdant hills and deep scenic valleys. The train station with its imposing clock tower built in Moselle Baroque Revival on a prominent thoroughfare lined by several public buildings infuses one with the architectural splendor of the city awaiting further ahead.
A pedestrian footpath led us to the 100 years old double arched Adolph bridge connecting to the Haute Ville (Medieval city center). The magnificent bridge rises 42 meters high from the Petrusse valley with incredible views over the valley.
The Petrusse River carved its path into the rock creating a large gorge that acted as natural fortifications up to 50 meters penetrating high into the sky. The ample green scape spread across the valley surrounded by peculiar rock formations and ruins of fortifications amidst the tranquil aura is great to saunter or relax. The valley is dotted with many old buildings with a backdrop of towering skyscrapers a terrific amalgam of old and the new. There is a 14th century St. Quiren’s Chapel built into the rock which is one of the oldest Christian sanctuaries. There is also a golf course and a tiny steam train in the park.
Around 10 minutes walk from the bridge is the Notre-Dame Cathedral. The 17th-century gothic architecture cathedral with traces of Renaissance and Baroque elements has three imposing towers dominating the city skyline. The exquisitely carved statues and artwork of the entrance portal, the gorgeous interior flanked by white columns supporting the vaulted ceilings and remarkable stained-glass windows are sure to leave you in awe.
Monument of Remembrance
Across the street is the striking Monument of Remembrance or Gelle Fra in Place de la Constitution. The gilded bronze figure of a woman holding a laurel stands on the focal of a 21-meter-high granite obelisk. It represents Nike, the goddess of victory and commemorates all those who sacrificed their lives in World War II.
We walked through the throng of tourists in the outdoor cafes and restaurants, souvenir shops along the street to the tourist office to collect the city route map. The tourist office is in William Square or Place Guillaume II. The square is dominated by an equestrian statue of William II who gave the country its first parliamentary constitution.
Another prominent building in the square is the 19th century neo-classical Town Hall. The building entrance is flanked by two majestic bronze statues of Lions. The Town hall is the private office of the city’s mayor.
Grand Ducal Palace
Just across the street of the square is the 16th century Grand Ducal Palace built in the Flemish Renaissance. It is the official residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg where he performs most of his duties as head of state of the Grand Duchy. The opulent interior and sumptuously decorated ceilings and walls are open to public during summer with a 45 min guided tour. The tours provide an insight into the various aspects of the administrative workings and the staterooms. It also houses the Luxembourg Parliament in the left wing.
On the street opposite to the palace is the Chocolate house. The Chocolate House is must visit for it offers a wide assortment of homemade hot chocolate to select from more than 30 different types.
On the way to the Bock is the 14th century Eglise St. Michel. The Eglise St. Michel church stands on the site of the castle chapel built in 987.
Le Chemin de La Corniche
The promenade along the old ramparts of the city overlooking the valley peppered with old quarters along the winding Alzette River is no less than a fantasyland. Le Chemin de La Corniche is called as Europe’s Most Beautiful Balcony. The well preserved old quarters are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and exemplify the city’s rich cultural heritage.
In 963 Count Siegfried built a castle atop sheer cliffs to protect his property. Over the centuries the castle on the Bock was expanded and protected with heavy defenses.
A network of 23 km of underground galleries and passages were built in the 18th century of which only 17 km remain today. The casemates or Bock Casemates could act as a refuge for 35,000 people at a time during the wars and bombings and could house munitions, kitchens, bakeries and slaughter-houses.
Statue of Grand Duchess Charlotte
On our way back to the station in the square Place Clairefontaine behind the Notre dam was the statue of Grand Duchess Charlotte. During her reign, Grand Duchess Charlotte contributed towards improving the living standards of Luxembourg. She worked on rebuilding the country after World War II and helped boost the tourism.
Luxembourg City today has emerged has one of the influential capital city but its history and culture remain intact amidst all the modernisation.
Have you been to Luxembourg City? Which was your favorite part of sightseeing? Do share with us in comments.
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