Luxembourg – the wealthiest country in Europe
Luxembourg is perhaps the wealthiest country in all of Europe, and the Old City is overrun by the tax-sheltered children of eBay and Skype executives, moving in Pied Piper phalanxes with their phones out and thumbs flying.
Whether you find yourself in landlocked Luxembourg or the neighboring countries of Belgium, France or Germany, a trip to Luxembourg’s capital, Luxembourg City, is always a good choice for interesting sightseeing. If you’re able to stay longer than a day or two, it is advisable to diversity your experience by venturing outside of the city walls. Since Luxembourg is one of the world’s smallest countries (slightly smaller than the US state of Rhode Island), exploring a wide swath of this last remaining Grand Duchy is easy to do in a relatively short period of time. Here are some suggestions to make the most out of your visit to Luxembourg.
Luxembourg City is composed of upper and lower levels and is easily walkable with proper shoes to safely navigate the old cobblestone streets. A convenient location to begin a day of sightseeing here is in the Ville Haute Quarter (city center) at the Passerielle Bridge (Luxembourg Viaduct), which connects this quarter to the south side. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this historical center is packed with interesting things to see and do. While here, be sure to visit the official residence of the Grand Duke, the Palace of the Grand Dukes, which is open for guided tours from mid-July to mid-August. The Monument of Remembrance, Gelle Fra (Golden Lady monument) can be found in this area and is a memorial to Luxembourgers who served in the armed forces during WWI, WWII and the Korean War. Learn about the country and its people through interesting exhibits in the two museums comprising the Luxembourg City Museum. Built in the Middle Ages and once serving as a monastery, stellar views of the city can be enjoyed here, as well.
For other postcard-worthy views, visit Place de la Constitution to admire the memorial dedicated to WWII, and enjoy its manicured gardens, flags, bridges, dense forests and the Petrusse Valley. Built by the Jesuits in 1613, Notre Dame Cathedral is the only cathedral in Luxembourg, and it flaunts a unique blend of both Baroque and neo-Gothic styles.
Step into one of the most formidable fortresses in Europe and explore a complex arrangement of underground tunnels and galleries known as Casemates du Bock. Most recently used as bomb shelters during WWII, the history of Bock can be traced back to the late 900’s. Within this tunnel network you’ll see a dungeon, prison and an Archaeological Crypt. Pair your history lesson here with a visit to the National Museum of Art and History. This popular museum can be found next to the Fish Market where you can enjoy a wonderful meal.
A historic quarter located on the lower part of the capital city that must be visited is Grund. Descend through the cliff by foot or free elevator to this area famous for the Alzette River flowing among its streets and vibrant nightlife. Enjoy a musical or cultural event at Neumὓnster Abbey, a bright yellow iconic former Benedictine abbey turned public meeting space.
Found in restaurants all over the country, be sure to taste the national dish of Luxembourg, Judd mat Gaardebounen. Thick slices of salted and smoked pork are served alongside a serving of broad beans and small potatoes. If time is in short supply, an alternative to seeing Luxembourg City on foot is to take a Hop-on-Hop-off tour. This bus visits the most famous tourist areas, providing interesting commentary along the way. Get off if you wish or ride the entire loop and take photos from the comfort of your seat.
With more than one day available to sightsee, be sure to leave the city and see more of the country. Travel one hour from Luxembourg City by car to Clervaux, a quaint small town filled with castles, churches and monasteries. Also, don’t miss out on the most popular day trip from Luxembourg City to the fantasy castle land of Vianden. This charming little town is home to hilltop Vianden Castle, as well as an interesting museum dedicated to author Victor Hugo.
By Lisa Osborne Blalock
Footloose Travel & Tours