The most important Luxembourg fact though, is that the local beer is called Bofferding. This fact should tell you more about the country than anything else.
I recently had the luck to spend a day in Luxembourg City, the capital of the country. I spent some time wandering her streets, sampling the local brew, and taking photos, and these were my highlights.
A giant gorge
Luxembourg is a city with cliffs, which is a bit weird given that the country is seriously landlocked. As the city designers were firmly of the medieval fortress school of city design, these cliffs became incorporated into the city defences. During the 16th century in fact, Luxembourg City was one of the strongest fortifications in Europe. This didn’t help much, as the city was conquered no less than seven times during this period. Points for effort though.
Hordes of descending invaders aside, the result of this planning approach is that the city is divided into distinct sections. There is the bit up on the cliffs, which forms the oldest part of the city. There is the bit in the gorges, which has a lot of gorgeous parkland. Then there is the bit away from all of this, which is full of lovely modern buildings, which most people who are visiting Luxembourg will probably ignore. Like I did.
Spanning the gorge, and linking the cliff lined city fortress with the rest of the world, are a number of bridges. Two of these are worthy of your attention, the Adolphe Bridge and the Passerelle.
There are impressive stats and figures regarding length and age for both of these bridges, but really, they are just damn pretty to look at, majestically spanning the gorge, held up by, presumably, magic and pixie dust. When I was there the weather was glorious and the leaves were just turning autumnal, resulting in quite a spectacle.
A church in a rock
Also down in the gorge, away from the slightly moulding mini golf course, is this remarkable church, which has been carved out of the cliff face. It was a safe haven for all sorts of characters, including those of a less salubrious nature. Now it is a rather dank, aromatic and spooky place. I took some pictures, but didn’t linger.
Beyond the church the gorge wends further around the walled cliffs of the old city, and into the lower city area – the “Ville Basse”. Here lie cobbled streets, houses built from gnarled timbers, and countless cafe’s. There are also a range of museums and more churches, if that is your thing. I was on a tight schedule, so headed on.
Up on the hill
From Ville Basse a lift goes up to Ville Haute. (In case you were wondering, yes, French is the predominant language spoken in Luxembourg, although German and Luxembourgish are also official languages.) Ville Haute is the oldest part of the city, and is home to some of the most impressive buildings in Luxembourg.
We started off in the forecourt of the Judiciary City, because that is where the lift disgorged us. This has a commanding view across the Ville Basse, and the buildings are remarkable for both their age and their cleanliness. After spending some time in Germany, you sort of get used to every possible surface being covered in graffiti. This is not the case in Luxembourg.
From here we walked into the centre of the old city, taking in the 15th century Notre-Dame Cathedral, which is rather less buttressy than its French namesake. Gothically impressive, this is also home to the National Monument to the Resistance.
The seat of power
Finally our wanders brought us, via a number of large open air squares playing host to stag parties (Luxembourg has remarkably cheap alcohol), to the palace itself, home to the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
Space being at a premium in a walled city, you could mistake this for being yet another impressive old building in a sea of impressive old buildings. There are some giveaways of course. It goes on for some time, and it has a number of guard posts outside. That is pretty much it though – unlike Buckingham Palace for example, you could go up and touch it if you really wanted to.
So that was how I spent a short while in Luxembourg. It was nowhere near enough time to see a lot, and I’d love to return and spend more time wandering and exploring, but it was enough to find out that Luxembourg is definitely a place worth getting acquainted with. Oh and of course, trying out that beer. Preferably in a mug that looks like this. Cheers!