This travelogue is the combination of two different visits I made to the city -- the first on a sunny day in May 2001, the second on a dreary, rainy day in November 2002. Needless to say, most of the photos I used were from 2001. :-)
Luxembourg City is an absolutely incredible place! Built high above the confluence of the Pétrusse and Alzette Rivers, Luxembourg is both a panoramic paradise and acrophobiac's nightmare. I suggest that before going to Luxembourg, be sure you've done a few quality sessions on the Stairmaster!!!
What made the city so picturesque for me were the Casemates, the massive and tall stone walls that surround the city center to the south. The view in the first photo was taken from the Pont Adolphe, one of the high arching stone bridges over the Pétrusse. The Casemates are partially visible on the left, but extend all the way around the city, behind the trees you see.
The Casemates were divided into two parts -- the Pétrusse and the Bock -- and I suggest following the Casemates all the way around the city. The views were fantastic, no matter the weather, and there were numerous points of interest to look for below. For example, just off the first photo to the left was the Plaza de la Constitution, an interesting triangular park built amidst a former bastion halfway down the Casemate wall. This plaza normally hoists six very large Luxembourg flags (if the postcards were correct), but I sadly missed that view both times. Also nearby, be sure to find the gorgeous red marble "Gëlla Fra" Memorial.
The church in the center of the photo was the Cathedral Notre-Dame, a brilliant old church that shares space with the Luxembourg National Library.
The confluence of the two rivers is at the southeast corner of town, and it from that point (the combined Alzette), that the views get really interesting. Note the second photo, taken from the so-called Bock Casemates to the east. The 40ish-meter walls were a bit rougher there, but the views over the district of Grund were fabulous. You can catch a glimpse of the Alzette River in the left of the photo.
The Bock Casemates themselves were really interesting. It's an entire maze of old stone structures that you can navigate, and there were two really fabulous monuments there: the modernized monument to the Millenium, and the interesting ruin "Hollow Tooth" on the bridge nearby.
Looking down at Grund was half the fun. Grund had quite a number of points of interest itself, such as evidenced in the third photo.
The small bridge over the Alzette was part of Wenceslas Wall, an old fortification that ran across the field to the right and up the far side of the valley. You can access the bridge by following an inclined footpath to the north that passes under the Bock Casemates. I took that incline down and crossed the bridge my first trip to the city, and scaled most of Wenceslas Wall. It was really beautiful.
Grund was interesting, too, though its major attractions (St. John Neumuenster and the Museum of Natural History) were under construction. The walk along the Alzette River was nice.
But the good news was that while I climbed down the long steep road below, I did NOT have to climb it back up! Below the Corniche, there was an elevator built inside the wall. (Whew!)
The interior of the City Center was very nice -- loaded with markets and monuments. The first time I went to Luxembourg, I was lucky enough to go during the Spring Festival, and the place was simply alive! The two main market squares were the Place d'Armes, that hosts the City Hall, and the larger Place Guilliaume, that hosts the regular markets. I found the Place d'Armes to be the gathering place for many tourists -- it was replete with fast-food restaurants and cafés, especially American-style establishments. During my May 2001 trip, Place Guilliaume was extremely active with dozens of fair booths set up for the festival, mostly food and drink.
The classier restaurants were further to the east, and the ones that I personally have tried were absolutely fantastic. The local flavor seemed to boast Alsacian, heavy on the sausages and hams, hearty soups, and cheese. Look for the cobblestone roads behind the Grand-Ducal Palace.
... speaking of which, said Palace is in the fourth photo, one of the major draws in the city. This was the countries' Buckingham Palace, as it were, complete with marching honor guard. The difference with this palace is that you can walk right up to it, and it is nearly as elaborate as its London cousin (though not nearly as big, of course).
Luxembourg City was a place that requires some extra time to explore -- far away from the city center. Like many capital cities, it was a treasure trove where some of the finest gems are found off the beaten path. The northern part of the city was dotted with beautiful parks filled with flowers and fountains. In my travels, I came across the rather interesting building in the fifth photo... care to guess what it is? Take a guess, then continue reading.
It's a retirement home! (I'm sure that isn't its original function) Now, when you turn 65, wouldn't you want to retire in a lavish place like this? I sure would... where do I sign? (By the way, it's called the Pescatore Foundation, in case you were curious.)
The home was next to the Grand-Duchesse Charlotte bridge, a large and unmistakable red bridge that led to the Centre Européen District. That district contains several important European Union buildings -- including banks, court houses, and conference centers. If there was one thing apparent during both my visits to Luxembourg, it was the pride the country had in its various international roles. Being such a small country, Luxembourg had depended on various international institutions, such as the prominent EU, to make its mark on the world. And in doing so, Luxembourg has prospered since World War II. And as another travelogue in this section attests (Esch-sur-Alzette), the Luxembourgeois are greatly appreciative and very friendly towards Americans, which have made both my visits there quite special.
There are so many places to see in Luxembourg City that a short travelogue like this can't possibly cover them all. If you go, take a full weekend and keep exploring. There's a surprise waiting for you at every turn!
Trips taken 13 May 2001 and 16 November 2002 -- Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2001 Tom Galvin