I visited Luxembourg only for two days and however much I saw simply wasn’t enough 🙂. The city is not too big and 2 days are really sufficient for a tourist but at the end of the day you have a strange feeling you haven’t seen enough and you want to see more. I’ve visited a good couple of places in Europe but Luxembourg is one of my favourite und romantic places ever. Imagine sitting under a tree, enjoying its cool shade, while being surrounded by ancient fortifications and remains of medieval castles… you can almost ‘touch’ that unusual atmosphere of this unique place. It is a city of modern architecture and historic nostalgia, a lovely spot where time has stopped.
But let me start from the beginning…
Luxembourg, or as it is officially called – the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a small country in Western Europe, surrounded by some impressive neighbours like France, Germany and Belgium all of whom have had a huge impact on Luxembourg’s life. The national language is Luxembourgish as well as German and French. When you are there, you’ll see and hear how those languages mix and complement one another.
The history of Luxembourg dates back to 10th century when it was just a small castle. The ruins have remained until today and are a huge tourist attraction. The city has gone through a lot of change (and even moved on a few partitions!) and was invaded in both World Wars when it went under the German occupation. Currently, Luxembourg is one of the richest countries in Europe and is a member of the EU, NATO and OECD. The country’s capital, also called Luxembourg, is home to several EU institutions, e.g. the European Court of Justice, and agencies and together with Strasbourg and Brussels it is one of the three capitals of the EU.
It is a city that offers so much to see and I really loved the amazing mixture of medieval and modern architecture. I will mention only a few that really grabbed my heart. It’d be impossible to describe all of them – there are way too many! 🙂
The Notre-Dame Cathedral is a magnificent example of how late Gothic architecture combined with the wonderful, light Renaissance. Its tall, slim columns make the place look solid and strong. On sunny days, the sunrays pass through the beautifully colourful stained glass windows and glide lazily among benches and those who came to pray. It does not surprise me that people go there to find their peace and quiet. The cathedral also hides a crypt where the Grand-Ducal family have been put to their eternal rest. Outside the building you will find a fountain with a most splendid mosaic. On sunny days the sunrays reflect from the intricate patterns and create an incredible play of colours.
Not far from the cathedral you will find the Monument of Remembrance, or as the locals put it – “Gëlle Fra“ (Golden Lady). The monument is 21m tall and represents the goddess Nike, the symbol of Victory. At the base of the statue there are figures of soldiers and the monument is dedicated to the WW1 and WW2 soldiers of Luxembourg. The statue was built in 1923, then destroyed during WW2 and was once again reconstructed and open for public in 1985.
You can’t think of Luxembourg and not mention the Adolphe Bridge which connects both parts of the city. The bridge is 42m high and 153m long. It is quite scary to walk on it and look down but it is so worth it! The bridge offers amazing views from either end – wherever you look, you can see the town, the castle, beautiful parks and so on. Plus, the bright stone bridge surrounded by lush green trees all around looks just brilliant.
The Petrusse Valley located right below the bridge is a huge park with many original rock formations, as well as ruins left after ancient fortifications and bastions. This is where the inhabitants of Luxembourg go jogging, walking or chill in the lovely shade of the many trees or simply sit on the grass. Right in the ‘heart’ of the park there is a huge skateboard complex where the hip young and old ones can spend their time actively.
Luxembourg is also famous for its many sculptures and monuments that beautifully complement the lovely cityscape. Many are historic and needed to be reconstructed and retouched, whereas many are very modern. One of my favourites is the statute dedicated to the Luxembourgian writer, Michel Rodange, author of the national epic ‘De Rénert’. The top of the monument is adorned with a really cute but sly looking sculpture of a fox (in Luxemburgish ‘Rénert’) – main character of the satirical poem. If you have a moment, go there and see it. This national trickster of a hero is located near the Town Hall, accompanied by magnificent sculptures of lions.
In the centre you will find many great cafes and restaurants. We found one which was just perfect for us – quiet, with slightly dimmed lights, open windows, lovely ambience, friendly waiting staff and great food. On both days of our stay we dined at Downtown Café and when we didn’t order any proper meals, we just enjoyed our time there over a local beer or a piece of cake. The place is really cosy to just forget about everything and have a really good time, relaxing. It’s also very pocket-friendly and I think everyone can find something for themselves there. I totally recommend it.
But Luxembourg is not just the old town! If you have a few spare hours I really encourage you to walk a bit further outside. North-East of town you will find a really modern Kirchberg district where many important institutions, banks, galleries and offices are located. You also notice right from the start that Kirchberg is the rich area of Luxembourg. You can find here such important European Union institutions, like the European Court of Justice, European Court of Auditors, Secretariat of European Parliament or even some offices belonging to the European Commission. It is also a hub for banks, expensive apartments and shops. The district is also really nice and super clean. The cafes are full of bankers, businessmen and so on… Discussing their whatever important stuff over their laptops and smartphones or maybe just chilling like us and enjoying the quiet time… 😉
Apart from the trees, statues and cafes there is something else which really grabbed my attention – the Philharmonic, which is just incredible! It was opened in 2005 and is one of the most known concert halls in Europe. The huge white building is surrounded by 824 steel columns arranged in four rows. Its amazing bright stairway gives it an otherworldly flair.
When you go a little further you can see a splendid park (Park Dräi Eechelen) with a stunning view over the city behind the remains of ancient fortifications. The park is really huge and has lots of paths, trees, historical ruins and sculptures. It is a really great place for a walk. The park also includes the Fort Thüngen – a historical fortification of Luxembourg city. Unfortunately, the fort suffered a lot of damage during the wars and had to be reconstructed. It is currently open and connected with the Musem of Modern Art, so, again – in Luxembourg, the old and the new operate side by side.
Like I wrote at the beginning – Luxembourg is a moderately small city and you don’t need a whole week to see all of its beauty but you also never have enough of that place. Of course, I did not have a chance to see and admire every rock, corner, house, pub or castle but everything I saw spoke on behalf of the rest. The city is an incredible combination of old castles or fortifications and sleek, modern architecture, and the result is just pure magic. I really enjoyed walking among the old ruins, trees and flowers. I felt very safe and I really found my peace there.
I am sure I will visit Luxembourg again because – like with many unforgettable places in the world – once you visit, you leave a part of your heart there forever. And this is exactly what happened to me in Luxembourg.