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SITES & ATTRACTIONS IN LUXEMBOURG CITY
1. The Fortress
It was in the year 963 that Count Siegfried built his first castle on the rocky outcrop then known as “Lucilinburhuc”. Little did he know that by the 19th century the city would be so strongly fortified that it would be called “Gibraltar of the North”. Now it is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The first underground tunnels were built in 1644, in the era of the Spanish domination. The 23-kilometre long galleries were enlarged only 40 years later by Vauban, the French military engineer and fortress builder, and in the eighteenth century by the Austrians. The subterranean defensive passages were placed on different levels and reached down as far as 40 metres. It is these impressive defence works that conferred Luxembourg the name of “Gibraltar of the North”. After the dismantling of the fortress in 1867, 17 kilometres of the casemates were spared, left in good condition. Since 1933 the Bock and Pétrusse casemates have been open to the public. The fortress ramparts and the historically impressive Old Town enjoy international reputation: in 1994 UNESCO listed them as World Heritage.
As the didactic anti-chamber of the Bock casemates, it houses the origins of the city of Luxembourg. Modern technology is used to preserve, protect and revalorize not only the castle structures of the first Dukes of Luxembourg, but also vestiges of the fortress.
In 963 Siegfried, Count of Ardenne, acquired this massive rocky ledge, the cradle of the city of Luxembourg, through bartering with the Saint Maximin Abbey in Trier. The rock on which Siegfried built his castle, played a strategically crucial role. Surrounded on three sides by the Alzette valley and accessible only from the west, the stronghold proved easy to defend. Inside the rock, the visitor finds the archeological crypt as well as the casemates of the Bock, formerly used as underground defence galleries.
Erected during the first Spanish rule by Isaac von Traybach on the site of what is now Constitution Square (1644), the bastion is named after the former Governor of the Duchy of Luxembourg, Baron Johann von Beck. During the first French rule from 1684 to 1697 Vauban raised the walls of the Beck Bastion lining the Pétrusse valley to the level of their present height. In 1860 it was strenghtened further, only to be partly dismantled seven years later.
Also called “the most beautiful balcony of Europe” (according to the Luxembourg writer Batty Weber), it runs along the Alzette valley on the ramparts – built by the Spaniards and the French in the 17th century – from the Bock Promontory up to the lower part of the Holy Ghost Citadel, the so-called “Rondellen”. Up to the year 1870 the Corniche had staircases in steep parts which were levelled off only after the dismantling of the fortress. Moreover the greatest part of the protecting wall with its loopholes was cleared away so as to disclose a superb panorama on the valley of the Alzette, the city district of Grund and the Rham Plateau.
They were set up in the middle of the 17th century, integrated in the large fortifications initiated by the Spaniards and continued by Vauban. The actual purpose of the turrets has not been clearly established. Apparently there were 37 of them, but there is no historical evidence for this number.
Named after the Austrian commander-in-chief of the fortress, Baron of Thüngen, it was built in 1732 to enclose the defence work called Redoute du Parc (Park Redoubt) set up by Vauban 50 years before. A deep moat surrounded Fort Thüngen which was accessible only through a 169-metre long underground tunnel through the rocks from Obergrünewald. In 1836 the Prussians extended the Fort and in 1860 strengthened it again.
In 1870 and 1874 it was demolished: only the three round towers, the so-called Three Acorns, and the foundation walls, uncovered in 1991, remained in good condition. Here are also the “Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean”, built after the plans of the Sino-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei and the Museum of the Fortress.
In bygone days people lived on this high ground, which was washed around on three sides by the Alzette. After the 15th century the third ring linked it to the protected part of the city. At the end of the 17th century, with the French ruling, Vauban had 4 military barracks built, which have housed social institutions since the 19th century. From the front part of the Rham Plateau the visitor enjoys the magnificent view on the military edifices and fortifications of the Holy Ghost Plateau as well as on the so-called Corniche.
Its name refers to the former Fort Bourbon and it had been included in the fortification of the city for ages. A lot of defence works of the middle and exterior rings of the so-called Diedenhofener Front (for instance Fort Bourbon, Fort Elisabeth, Avancée Thionville, Fort Wallis, Fort Wedell) were located on this plateau. After the fortress was dismantled (from 1867 onwards), the principles of town planning needed applying here.
Holy Ghost Citadel
In 1234 the Holy Ghost Monastery was founded on the square bearing the same name. As the third ring was built in the 14th century, the plateau was linked to the protected part of the city. Its military and strategic location was recognized during the first Spanish domination, but its final shape dates back to 1685-87, when the French military fortress builder Vauban expanded the site of the citadel and strengthened the walls and bulwarks into bastions.
Currently, the new ”Cité judiciaire”, heart of the Luxembourgish justice is being built here.
Cultural Circular Walks Wenzel
The Wenzel Circular Walk, also named “1000 years in 100 minutes”, is a tour in time and space through the Upper and Lower towns: “Bock” promontory, Old Town, Wenceslas ring wall, valley of the Alzette with its unique fortifications. The Council of Europe has rated this promenade an “outstanding” cultural itinerary.
Cultural Circular Walks Vauban
The Vauban Circular Walk, named after the French fortress builder Sébastien le Prestre de Vauban (1633-1707), leads the visitor through a part of the fortifications of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries: “Bock” promontory, Old Town, Pfaffenthal and Clausen, Fort Niedergrünewald, Fort Thüngen and Fort Obergrünewald.
Built in 1685, the Lambert Redoubt was part of a fort of the same name. It was a component of the median line of the plain front. The redoubt was renovated in 1835/36 and given a roof. Constructed in a pentagonal form, it contained two floors and was surrounded by a network of casemates which are still in excellent condition today. There was a scattering of new mine chambers. Demolition work between 1868 and 1874 razed the entire fort to the ground. Recent excavations for the Monterey underground car park brought the remains of the Lambert Redoubt to light.
2. Old Quarters to the European Centre
Having at one time or another been ruled by the Burgundians, the Spanish, the French, the Austrians and the Prussians, Luxembourg can boast a brilliant melange of architectural styles. Nowadays tradition is further blended with the finest that contemporary architects can devise.
Its core is the Fish Market, the oldest part of the capital. Cosy cafés, speciality restaurants and artist haunts enhance the attractiveness of the narrow, sinuous lanes in this district. The Old Town boasts the national Museum for History and Art, the Museum of the History of the City of Luxembourg, Saint Michael’s Church, the Bock Promontory with the Casemates and the Grand Ducal Palace
The lower towns of Grund, Clausen and Pfaffenthal – which were inhabited in bygone days – line the banks of the Alzette. Especially skilled workmen who needed the Alzette water to carry out their craft had always settled here.
In Grund the visitor comes across Neumünster Abbey and the National Museum of Natural History. In Pfaffenthal he will be struck by the two Vauban Towers and the birthplace of Robert Schuman, the father of European Integration.
Today, Clausen and Grund are popular nightlife districts.
It is located in the city centre, close to the Cathedral. The House of Burgundy has been the Prime Minister’s office since 1975. The tower containing a staircase, attached to it, is built of bricks and is thought to be one of the oldest vestiges of the medieval city. The Refuge of the Holy Ghost Monastery – built in 1740 – houses the Ministry of Finances, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is located in the former Refuge of the Saint Maximin Abbey of Trier built in 1751.
The colossal building of the station and its clock tower dominate the outline of this quarter run through by two large avenues, the Avenue de la Gare and the Avenue de la Liberté. The Adolphe Bridge and the Viaduct, also named Passerelle, link the station quarter with the city centre.
Boulevard Royal, also called the Luxembourg Wall Street, is characterized by modern office blocks. International banks, holding and insurance companies have mostly settled at this busy thoroughfare.
Another group of banks has settled on Kirchberg Plateau, where several large ones have opted for the neighbourhood of the EU institutions.
On this unique European Centre several EU Institutions have found a home: the General Secretariate of the European Parliament, the European Court of Justice, the European Bank of Investment, the European Court of Auditors, the Plenary Hall of the European Parliament as well as parts of several General Directorates of the European Commission.
Furthermore, we come across modern banking edifices, the Head Office of the media corporation RTL GROUP, the National Sports and Cultural Centre, the cinema complex Utopolis and the international trade fair of the city of Luxembourg, (“Foires Internationales de Luxembourg” FIL), all of which are important components of the Kirchberg Plateau. The FIL is an adequate venue for congresses, conferences and seminars as well as exhibitions and shows of national and international range.
Thanks to the new Philharmony, the ”Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean” (MUDAM) and the Museum Fort Thüngen, the Kirchberg-Plateau attracts international music and art lovers.
It extends all around Place d’Armes, where the visitor comes across boutiques, retailers and shopping arcades. Grand-Rue – in the vernacular “Groussgaass” – is the main shopping street. Cosy street cafés, bistros and restaurants give additional charm to the city centre.
Located below the Adolphe and the Passerelle bridges, it forms a natural dividing line between the Upper Town and Plateau Bourbon.
The Pétrusse, created by the confluence of the Cessange and the Merl rivulets, had no embankments until 1933. Beside its riverbed, one can still see vestiges of the former Bourbon sluice, which was set up in 1728 to flood the upper Pétrusse valley in case of attack by the enemy.
After the fortress was dismantled in 1867, the available space on the western side of the city was partly used for the city park, which was designed by the famous Parisian country planner Edouard André. The gardens provide not only rest and relaxation for walkers, but also contain several relevant edifices and monuments.
3. Public Squares
As the former crossroads between two Roman roads, it is the historical centre of the Old Town. The first markets took place here, on the forecourt of the castles of the Dukes. At the time, the original inhabitants went about their business here, had their social contacts in these narrow lanes surrounding the old market, also called cheese market. Generally speaking, the buildings lining the square are of great historical value.
Since the middle of the 13th century, this square, named after William II, King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg, has accommodated the church and the monastery of the order of Saint Francis. In common parlance the square is also called Knuedler – derived from the Luxembourgish word “Knued” denoting the knot in the belt of the Franciscan friars. In 1797 the French seized the monastery with all its grounds and disposed of it part by part. In the following centuries the whole cluster of edifices was pulled down and the square redesigned. Today, the William Square hosts not only the Town Hall and the Luxembourg City Tourist Office, but also plenty of markets, open air concerts and feasts.
As an integral part of the pedestrian zone, surrounded by lots of street cafés, it has become the place where the young and the old, the locals and the visitors meet.
Place d’Armes, also named “Parlour of the City”, was aligned by Sebastian van Noyen from Utrecht and completed by Governor Jean Charles de Landas in 1671. The French troops of Louis XIV paved the square, planted lime-trees and used it for parades.
Situated near the Cathedral and the Government district, it was redesigned at the end of the eighties in the framework of extensive restoration and reconstruction involving the entire district. The name of the square comes from a place of shelter, a refuge belonging to the abbey of Clairefontaine which is near the Belgian border. The same refuge was demolished in 1933.
4. The Buildings
Grand Ducal Palace
In its function as the city residence of the Grand-Ducal family, it is situated right in the core of the Old Town.
Formerly the first town hall of the city occupied the site of the present palace; destroyed by a gunpowder explosion (1554), the town hall was rebuilt 20 years later. In the middle of the 18th century the former City Scales were added as an extension, whereas the Chamber of Deputies was built as an annex in 1859.
Since 1890 the main building has been the Grand Ducal Palace. From 1992 to 1995 it was restored thoroughly.
Located on William Square, it was built between 1830 and 1838 in neo-classical style. The stones of the old Franciscan monastery, dismantled in 1829, mainly went into its construction. In 1931 two bronze lions were added to flank both sides of the outdoor stairs.
The edifice is the seat of the city administration and houses the plenary hall of the municipal council. A little bit further you will find the Luxembourg City Tourist Office.
The generally named Cercle Municipal is an administrative building with several festival halls. From 1953 to 1969 the European Community for Coal and Steel used it as a venue for meetings and conventions.
On the front a unique frieze depicts the scene where Countess Ermesinde hands over the charter of freedom to the citizens of Luxembourg in the year 1244.
It was erected on the foundation walls of former Fort Vauban at the end of the 19th century. In 1949 the City of Luxembourg became the owner. From 1952 to 1958 it housed the Court of Justice of the European Community. From 1960 to 2005, the Villa Vauban was the municipal art gallery.
Due to restoration works of the Palace of the Grand Dukes,Villa Vauban was the city residence of the Grand Dukes between 1992 and 1995.
The impressive headquarters of ARCELOR, the biggest steel company in the world, has been built in 1922 and previously hosted the former Luxembourg mining company ARBED before its fusion with USINOR (F) and ACERALIA (E) in 2001. They include a bulky block with 4 wings and a large inner courtyard. Dominating the front side, the entrance portal is flanked by pillars with the gable figures of Victoria and Mercury, which both emphasize the connection between ex-ARBED and mining, steel processing and agriculture.
In 1859 the first railway station of the city started to operate; for military reasons timber was the basic construction material. Between 1907 and 1913 the German architects Rüdell, Jüsgen and Scheuffel planned and organized the gradual replacing of the half-timbering by modern building techniques. The monumental main building and the high clock tower are in “Moselle Baroque”. In the entrance hall a mosaic window discloses the outline of the city; the ceiling was repainted by the Luxembourg artist Armand Strainchamps.
5. The Bridges
Also called New Bridge, it was erected between 1900 and 1903 during the rule of Grand Duke Adolphe. This event was followed with great interest from abroad, because the bridge had the biggest stone arch in the world up to then.
The big double arch spans more than 85 metres across the Pétrusse valley at a height of 42 metres, and a total length of 153 metres.
The Old bridge – in common parlance – was built between 1859 and 1861 to cross the Pétrusse valley at a height of 45 metres. It consists of 24 arches spanning either 8 or 15 metres and of pillars up to 30 metres high. The total length is 290 metres whereas the slight curve in the middle is the result of military and strategic considerations.
Grand Duchess Charlotte Bridge
The “Red Bridge” – in the vernacular – connects the city centre to the European quarter on the Kirchberg Plateau, crossing the Pfaffenthal 74 metres above the Alzette. It is 355 metres long, the clear span between the pillars is 234 metres, the width 25 metres and the total weight 4,900 tons.
6. The Main Monuments
Luxembourg has had an eventful history, but not forgotten. Everywhere you turn you will find a reminder of it. Throughout the City, monuments honour those of whom the people are so proud.
National Monument of Luxembourg Solidarity
Rising on the so-called Cannon Hill, it commemorates the dead of the Second World War and recalls the resistance and the solidarity of the Luxembourg nation in the face of the Nazi occupation.
The paved inner courtyard symbolizes prisons, concentration camps and barracks. An ordinary, unchiselled stone represents the war victims. An eternal flame burns in front of the monument.
“Gélle Fra” Memorial
The Golden Lady on Constitution Square was set up in 1923 to commemorate the Luxembourgers who perished in the First World War. The memorial represents a gold-plated female figure on a stone obelisk.
On 20th October 1940 the Nazis pulled the monument down; only in 1984 did extensive restoration give it back its original appearance.
Today it symbolizes freedom and resistance for the Luxembourg people.
Grand Duchess Charlotte Memorial
The statue of Grand Duchess Charlotte on Clairefontaine Square was designed by the Parisian sculptor Jean Cardot. On 29th April 1990, the 2.75-metre high bronze statue was officially inaugurated in the presence of the Grand-Ducal family. Grand Duchess Charlotte (1896-1985), who was very popular with the Luxembourgers, ruled from 1919 to 1964.
Located on Jan Pallach Square, this monument was erected to pay homage to the two national poets Dicks (1823-1891) and Michel Lentz (1820-1893), who wrote the words of the national anthem. The monument is topped by a lion, the heraldic animal of the Grand Duchy, while the blacksmith incarnates the steel industry. The pillar contains a chiselled inscription, the wording of which is the motto of the Luxembourgers: “Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sin” (we want to stay what we are).
Famous architect I.M. Pei chose the historic site of the Fort Thüngen for the construction of the Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (Mudam). Mudam, located on the Kirchberg-Plateau, between the Place de l’Europe and the Old Town of Luxembourg, invites the public to an exploration of contemporary art. The public and exhibition spaces are laid out on three levels over 4.800 m2. The museum gives artists and designers “carte blanche” to invade the museum and offer interpretations of its spaces: the traditional exhibition spaces, but also the intermediary ones (the reception area, the café, the shop, the auditorium, …), by proposing original creations. The collection counts more than 200 works by more than 100 artists. Mudam proposes temporary expositions, a presentation of works from the collection, guided tours, encounters, workshops, etc.
National Museum of History and Art
The National Museum of History and Art on the Fish Market has undergone a substantial extension and refurbishment.
Three levels of 700 square metres each have been carved out of the rock which is visible through glass walls. The new underground galleries are used to display the very significant archaeological collections of the museum.
The old building, which has also been considerably transformed, houses the fine arts, the medieval collections, the coins and medals and the arms and fortress section. The decorative arts continue to be on display in the patrician houses of the 17th and 18th centuries in the rue Wiltheim.
National Museum of Natural History
The National Museum of Natural History is a modern family museum downtown Luxemboug in Grund and highlights “man”. Human development and impact on nature are illustrated in the various rooms dedicated to evolution, ecology and geology. An interactive multimedia system as well as databases connect the visitor with information about local natural landscapes, animal and plant species.
Museum of the History of the City of Luxembourg
The Museum of the History of the City of Luxembourg is situated inside a group of four restored noble dwellings and is to reflect the urbanistic and architectural development of the city since its creation in the 10th century up to the present day.
It provides the visitor with an insight into the changing day-to-day life of the population. A high-tech, sophisticated data bank enables the visitor to browse through the museum “à la carte” (made-to-measure).
Post and Telecommunications Museum
It reflects the history of the post and telecommunications in Luxembourg. Extensive collections of historical appliances, old documents and postmarks, medallions and photos provide an interesting insight into the social importance of the post and the technological advance of telecommunications. Furthermore, the museum owns a remarkable collection of stamps.
Tram and Bus Museum
It was inaugurated in the quarter of Hollerich in 1991. The visitor comes across exhibits like a historical horse-drawn coach, old tramway carriages and models of buses as well as historical uniforms. Numerous photos and documents illustrate the development of city transportation since 1875.
Casino Luxembourg – Forum of contemporary art
The Casino Bourgeois, built in 1882, became a centre for socializing in Luxembourg within a short time. In the middle of the 20th century the State purchased it and rented it out to the Cultural Circle of the European Union. Named “Foyer Européen” from then onwards, it was a centre for social and cultural events up to the end of 1990. Since, the Casino is used as a forum of contemporary art and organizes exhibitions of new artistic tendencies, conferences and concerts with contemporary music.
Robert Krieps Building (“Tutesall”)
The Robert Krieps Building, located in the city district of Grund, is a part of Neumünster Abbey, which was temporarily used both as a military hospital and as a prison in the course of the centuries. The so-called “Tutesall”, the place where prison inmates had to glue paper bags, is integrated into the new Cultural Centre of Neumünster Abbey and is used for concerts, conferences and theatre performances.
SITES & ATTRACTIONS AROUND THE COUNTRY
Bourscheid castle is located on an isolated promontory, accessible only from the north-west, 150 meters above the level of the river Sûre and 370 meters above sea level. Even today the ruins testify of an impressive fortification covering a surface of 12.000 square meters (151 meters long, 53 meters wide) and surrounded by a massive ring wall with 11 watchtowers. Bourscheid is an excellent example of the medieval castle tradition.
The centre of the enclosure came into being around the year 1000 when a stone construction replaced an earlier wooden defense structure. Archaeological excavations have yielded traces of Ottonian, Carolingian, Merovingian end even Roman times. Initially, the little square near the tower with its “palas” and chapel was surrounded by a circular wall with at least 4 towers. Only the tower and the circular wall remain of this first construction dating from the romanesque period. The manifold building ornaments in the form of ears (“opus spicatum”) are a characteristic of this part of the castle.
Shortly after the year 1350 the extensive circular wall was begun. It was finished in 1384, the same year in which the Stolzemburger house in the lower area of the castle was erected (notice the fine basement in gothic style). As the circular wall with its 8 towers now offered better protection to the core of the castle, the “palas” in the upper area was increased to a height of at least 10 meters, which corresponds to 4 storeys. A bakery-house was added on the top of a two-level dungeon hewn into the naked rock. The warden’s house with its two towers formed the entrance to this castle.
Behind the gateway, which was built only after 1477, a ditch protected by 4 towers barred the access to the upper and the lower castle. Truly a great fortification! The square in front of the exterior gate was protected by palissades. In this area stood the lime tree under which justice was said.
The castle began to delapidate after the year 1512 when the last member of the Bourscheid family had died. The upper castle was transformed into two dwellings arranged on both sides of the “palas”. One was already deserted by 1626, the other was never permanently inhabited. Yet around 1650 the chapel was enlarged so that it could boast two altars. From that time onward only bailiffs lived in Bourscheid castle, more precisely in the Stolzemburger house, which was rearranged as a residence in 1785, since the “palas” and the chapel in the upper area were threatening to crumble.
The invasion of Luxembourg by French revolutionary troops in 1704-1705 put an end to feudalism. The Bourscheid archives were taken to Gemunden in the Runsruck area of Germany in 1802, the last bailiff deserted the castle in 1803. In 1812 the last owner sold his whole property in Bourscheid and environs.
Bourscheid castle now was in private hands for more than a century and a half. In 1972 the Luxembourg State acquired the ruins, which had been declared a national monument in 1936. While some restauration work had been done since the thirties, the Stolzembourg house was reconstructed after 1972, while archaeological excavations probed into the ancient past of the castle. This restauration work has rendered Bourscheid castle accessible to visitors. The recent publication of the Bourscheid archives substantially enlarges our knowledge of the castle and its former inhabitants.
Note: On July 28th 2006 a fire (probably caused by lightning) destroyed one of the castle towers.
Located in the North of Luxembourg, the market town of Esch-sur-Sûre is nearly completely surrounded by a natural moat of the river Sûre.
A couple of miles further upstream from Esch-sur-Sûre is the country’s drinking water reservoir, where a barrage dam makes a fine lake, used for water-sports of all sorts (excluding the use of engines … drinking water)
Many consider the Ardennes to be synonymous with magnificent landscape – winding valleys, endless rivers, and invigorating green landscapes. The skillfully restored Vianden Castle takes you back to the Middle Ages and is equipped with antique weaponry and armour, Gobelin tapestries, and majestic furniture. Reach new heights as you get a glimpse of the unforgettable character of this scenic region from the Vianden chairlift. Head to the city of Clervaux where you’ll find yet another castle with parts dating back to the 12th century. The Castle was restored after its destruction during the Battle of the Bulge in the mid 1940s. The 12th century feudal castle, that ranks among the world heritage sites of UNESCO, also reveals Edward Steichen’s photo collection “Family of Man”. The National Museum of Military History offers visitors a glimpse of the most significant events of the Battle of the Bulge. Reaching an altitude of 559 meters, the highest peak in the Grand Duchy is also in this region, as is the German-Luxembourgish natural park that runs along the river. The area’s churches and chapels are worth a look with their beautiful frescoes, sculptures, and mosaics. Take a stroll through Diekirch with its old world charm and big open terrace square that serves up public concerts in the summer and Diekirch beer all year round. What’s more, The National Museum of Military History offers visitors a glimpse of the most significant events of the Battle of the Bulge.
While you’re here, visit:
* Museum of the Battle of the Bulge and the Museum of Art and Handicraft in Wiltz. It’s also home of the International Open-air Theater. Check out the celebrated Musical Festival in July where you’ll catch jazz, operas, operettas, musicals, and plays
* Three charming villages in Weiswampach
* Memorial to General Patton and Patton Museum in Ettelbruck
* The Nut Market (Veiner Nëssmoort) is held on the second Sunday in October
Clervaux is a medieval market town, sunk into a narrow and tortuous valley, surrounded by rugged hills covered with woods. In addition to its natural advantages and distinctive appearance, the hotels there are comfortable and the restaurants welcoming. For the Sports enthousiast, there is a splendid 18-hole golf course, several tennis courts and walks on forests tracks and paths, as well as fishing and horse-riding.
The imposing feudal castle which dates back to the 12th century – through its sheer size – still appears to protect the town. It is the age-old witness to the prestige and power of the knights and counts whose estates stretched far across country from St. Vith to Vianden and Prüm.
Near the Benedictine Abbey, a historic monument in the form of a cross can be admired. It is a 12.5 metre high stone construction which was erected in 1899 to commemorate the heroic fighters at the time of the French invasion from 1795 to 1798. Two bronze bas-reliefs show scenes from the Oesling peasant’s revolt against the French troops. Below a simple phrase, but one which is filled with pride and heroism, reads: “We don’t know how to lie”
Vianden was during the middle Ages the capital of the powerful county of Vianden, an area as large as the present Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It included 136 villages and stretched as far as Prum and Bitbourg.
It was a fortified city, tucked at the foot of the castle, which dominated and protected it. Five gates gave entry to the city, which was surrounded by ramparts with 24 semi-circular towers. The present bell-tower, the ” Hockelstour”, standing on a rock between the castle and the town, originally served as a watchtower, allowing an effective vigilance to be maintained. The Marechal de Bouffiers, who also dismantled the castles of Brandenbourg, Falkenstein and Stolzembourg, destroyed the city wall in 1679. About 1850, the last two gates of the town, the gate of the upper town and the bridge gate were considered cumbersome and were pulled down as well.
Victor Hugo’s House
Victor Hugo’s house at the bridge was arranged into the Victor Hugo Museum in 1935 “restore 2002”. Manuscript letters of the poet’s, his furniture and personal documents as well as reproductions of his drawings sketched during his stay are shown. Rodin’s famous bust of v. Hugo, a present of the French Senate, stands on the breastwork of the bridge.
SEO (Société Electrique de l’Our)
The hydro elcetric pumping station in Vianden is the biggest in Europe. This hydroelectric power station consists of an artificial lake joined to the two upper reservoirs by a system of two screened wells being 6 -. 6.50 metres in diameter, 625 resp. 856 metres in length and leading the water to an underground power-house that is 330 metres long and is situated in the heart of Mount St. Nicholas.
The Underground power-plant is open daily from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. From Easter to 30.9 from 10.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m.
Church of Trinitarians
The Trinitarians built it with its two naves and its splendid Gothic vaults in 1248; they had been summoned to Vianden by Count Henry I, whose father had been freed from Saracen captivity by Trinitarians during the Crusades. The Trinitarian Church was consecrated in 1252.
Above the entrance-portal of the church there is a very beautiful statue representing the Virgin Mary and the Child; it dates from the 14th century and bears marks of the art of Lorraine. The Trinitarian church was restored after a great fire in 1498. The maintenance of the left nave was a duty that fell on the parishioners, whereas the right nave was looked after by the monks, who had an asymmetrical church-choir, built in the right nave; the construction of this choir had unfortunately not been financed by the bourgeoisie.
The altar of the Blessed Sacrament, built in Renaissance style and situated on the left side of the church, was made in the workshop of the famous artist Ruprecht Hoffmann of Trier in the 15th century. The main altar, built in the Rococo Style and situated on the right in the choir, was built about 1758 by the Vianden artists Daleyden and Goldschmit; the statue of God the Father is the work of the Vianden sculptor Andre Fischer. The dorsal of the 16 stalls in the choir are omitted by wind and string instruments as well as sculpted membranes revealing foliated scrolls. The rood screen and the organ were installed in 1693 and the chair of truth was brought over from the Cathedral of Luxembourg.
Since 1988 diggings have discovered numerous tombs under the church. The floor was lowered almost half a meter to restore the original proportions of the gothic church.
The Cloister of the Trinitarians
Adjoining the church is one of the most ancient Gothic cloisters in the region between the Meuse, the Mosella and the Rhine. This cloister belonged to the monastery of the Trinitarians, founded in 1248. The mission of the Trinitarian order aimed at freeing prisoners in the Holy Land; it was founded by Jean de Matha and Felix de Valois, the statues of who are to be seen on both sides of the main altar in the Trinitarian church. The two founders wear the habit of the order, a white coat, bearing a red and blue cross.
The monastery belonged to the province of the Picardie and its income was divided into three parts: one third went to the monastery, another third to the St. Elizabeth Hospital and the remaining third was spent on the repurchase of prisoners. In 1766, the Trinitarian monk P.N. Mamer was triumphantly welcomed in Vianden, as he came back with 73 slaves he had repurchased from the Sultan of Morocco. This was the last redemption of that kind, as the monastery of the Trinitarians was abolished in 1783 by the emperor Joseph II of Austria. The convent and cloister were both sold by auction and transformed into private domains. It was not until 1955, that the cloister with its magnificent ribbed vaults, separated by three-cusped lancet arches, was pulled clear out of its wreckage and was finally restored.
Nowadays a retreat house takes up the site of the old Trinitarian convent. It was the Trinitarians who developed the cultivation of the vine. Documents mention a vineyard “in monte Viennense” as early as 698, and up to the beginning of our century people used to cultivate a wine of mediocre quality, called “Dreimännerwein” as, according to local lore, three men were needed to drink it: one man swallowed the wine, another one poured it down his throat and the third man held him back so that he could not escape.
The Roman Basilica of Roth
Built at the beginning of the twelfth century, was the home of the first parish of Vianden. The Basilica originally contained only one nave as well as an imposing apse, decorated by five rows of superimposed recesses. Later on, the Basilica was enlarged towards the south, in keeping with the traditional plan of Roman Basilicas; it holds three naves, the central one being built according to a trapezoidal plan, whereas the meriodional nave is j7anked by a massive tower that forms a pendant to the apse of the first nave at the north-side of the building. The Templars ensured the religious service at the Roth Basilica. A disagreement, followed by several excommunications, arose after the arrival of the Trinitarians at Vianden in 1248.
St. Nicholas Church
Located in the lower part of Vianden, was built towards the end of the thirteenth century, after the scission, as a subsidial church to the Roth Basilica. Up to the year 1801, the lower part of the town formed part of the parish of Roth. St. Nicolas Church burnt down in 1723 and was rebuilt the next year.
St Rochus Church
It was constructed on the site of a l1’h century chapel built by the survivors of a plague epidemy in honour of St. Rochus, the patron saint implored by the plague-stricken. This church in the Renaissance style is characterized by two towers and by its two beautiful baroque altars.
It is located near the Church of the Trinitarians is the oratory of the Sodality Congregation of the Blessed Virgin. This chapel was built over the school room of this period in 1757.
Chapel of Bildchen
The chapel was erected in the middle of the woods in 1848. The lower part of the Castle Chapel altar was transferred into this shrine, and each year on the first Sunday after 16th August, the whole congregation of Vianden goes on an impressive pilgrimage to the miraculous statue of Our Virgin of the Bildchen, sheltered in this chapel.
St. Markus Church at Langsdorf
South of Vianden, belonged to the Vianden Trinitarians. It is a church with two naves, a type of church fairly common in the Our valley around Vianden. The inner rectangle inco1porates the choirs. Two octagonal pillars separate the two naves, while the choir is divided into three parts by two round columns. The two naves and the three choirs architecturally merge into a harmonious unity. A hermitage adjoining the church allowed the hermit to see the altar and follow the church services through a quaint little window.
Edmond de la Fontaine
Above the Church of the Trinitarians, the Dicks Monument commemorates our national poet Edmond de la Fontaine (1823-1891), who died at Vianden, where he had been conciliation magistrate from 1881 to 1891. He was the author of the first Luxemburg’s comedies and won a considerable fame under the pen-name «Dicks”. A tablet fixed to the poet’s home above the Cross of Justice honours the poet’s memory. In the «Dicks House” you may see to-day an exhibition of more than 500 dolls, among them some rare dolls with porcelain heads.
The only chair lift in the Grand Duchy allows the tourists to get from an altitude of 230 to 440 m and to enjoy a gorgeous panorama over the romantic Our Valley.
Situated on the River Sure, Little Switzerland is an explorer’s paradise. The region centers around the medieval town of Echternach and is brimming with artifacts from the Mesolithic era which can be viewed at the Museum of Prehistory at the “Hihof” in Echternach. Excavations in this region have uncovered remnants from eras gone by, including vestiges of the first church built around 700 in Echternach and an ancient Roman camp. History enthusiasts can also tour the remains of the 12th century Beaufort Castle. Here you’ll find everything from graceful swans to a torture chamber. After leaving the throne, opt for a glass of Cassis black currant liquor─a Beaufort specialty. Little Switzerland’s expansive valleys, rugged cliffs, breathtaking waterfalls, and unusual rock formations make it the perfect setting for hiking, cycling, and rock climbing. Or, follow the signs to one of several walking paths in the area.
While you’re here, visit:
* Wonderful views from Consdorf
* Colorful flower village in Haller
* Walking paths through fantastic rock formations in Christnach
Wine has been the main attraction of the Moselle Valley for centuries, dating back to the Romans. The vineyard is mostly known for its dry white wines, such as Rivaner, Auxerrois, Riesling, Pinot bland, and Pinot gris. Tour myriad wine cellars, participate in wine tastings, mingle with the locals, or kick back at a charming café. Become a wine connoisseur with a visit to the Wine Museum or by taking a guided tour of the area. After working up an appetite, indulge in small fried fish (Friture) or baked pike, two area specialties. Check out the colorful Grape and Wine Festivals – complete with parades – in Spring and Fall. A boat trip from Schengen to Wasserbillig is another great way to spend a day. Moselle Valley is also home to Mondorf-les-Bains where you’ll find a glorious park and Mondorf Le Club, the biggest fitness and sauna facility in the Grand Duchy. If you’re feeling lucky, stop by nearby Casino 2000.
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