FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Exploring Luxembourg City

Posted in Luxembourg by folkestonejack on April 27, 2018

A short trip to Luxembourg and Trier for the Dampfspektakel saw us board a Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 at London City airport for the short flight to Luxembourg City. It might have been a bit geekish on my part, but I deliberately chose a window seat which would have a view of the landing gear on the approach to our destination for an unusual photo or two…

Luxair Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 LX-LGF passes over the heart of the city on the approach to Luxembourg Airport at Findel

Once we reached the city centre we set about a packed half-day tour of the sights, followed by a further half day at the end of our break which I shall wrap into one post for the sake of expediency!

The mighty fortress of Luxembourg was one of those places in Europe that history has pivoted around, passing in and out of the hands of the major players in European history including Spain, France, Prussia and the Austrian Netherlands. Under the Treaty of London in 1867 it was scheduled for demolition to prevent the by then neutral state of Luxembourg from getting drawn in to the looming Franco-Prussian conflict. Four hundred years of construction was not easily undone. The demolition works would end up taking 16 years and their end was marked by celebrations on 22nd May 1883.

The history of the fortress city is best explored through visits to the Story of Luxembourg at the Lëtzebuerg City Museum. I thought the Story of Luxembourg exhibition was one of the best that I have seen with a wide mix of presentation styles (including a room full of historical images presented through stereoscopes) and just the right level of information to keep it engaging. It also included the funkiest lift that I can recall – it looked as though you were entering a room and then that kind of falls away as you descend in your glass cage through the bare walls of the building.

The interior of the Casemates du Bock

The Musée Dräi Eechelen in the keep of Fort Thüngen does a superb job of explaining the evolution of the fortress, including an interesting light presentation over a scale model of the fortress. However, it was the drawings and photographs of the fortress and its demolition that I found most fascinating. It’s not hard to see why it was often described as the Gibraltar of the North.

It is well worth taking one of the many wonderful walks along the fortified exterior walls of the city and the Bock casemates that thankfully proved impossible to demolish (despite the razing of the structure above). It’s one of those cities where gorgeous views seem to abound in every direction and left me wondering why the city is not a bigger draw on the tourist map of Europe than it is.