23 April 2016
How could I not visit Luxembourg, now that I am in Trier, which is less than one hour away from this tiny and wealthy country. My traveller instinct forced me to visit there because, even though Luxembourg is quite a small country embedded between France, Germany and Belgium, has its own culture and language. Not by chance, the official languages are even 3: German, Dutch and French! They also speak the autocton language: the Luxembourgish, which is something like a mix between German and French. Luxembourger are crazily good at speaking languages, they can change from French to German or from German to English in a blink of eye, without showing signs of confusion…ahh how much I admire them!
The history of this lovely country started from an exchange between Siegfried from Luxembourg and the Saint-Maxim Abbey in Trier. The Noble built a castle on the ruins of a Roman settlement that, throughout the time, develops into a fortress. When the family of the Luxembourg earls was extinguished, various European rulers took over the small territory: Dutch, French and Spanish. Now the country is not only independent, but one of the wealthiest country in Europe thanks for its banks; these small countries like Andorra and Lichtenstein (even Switzerland) are known as tax havens for their bank-friendly policies. Moreover Luxembourg make up Benelux, a free-trade organization that allows the countries of Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg to exchange goods, services and capitals freely, without any additional taxes. Indeed, it was used as model for the EU. A small curiosity about Luxembourg is that is the sixth country in the world for the highest percentage of cars per capita.
Luxembourg has not many big cities, we can even say it does not have at all….the only city that can be awarded with this title is Luxembourg City, the economical and political heart of the duchy. The other inhabited places in Luxembourg are merely more than a town. From a natural point of view, it has much to offer with its green sceneries and fairytale villages along rivers but here I will talk about what to do in the capital to enjoy it at its best!
Visiting The Picturesque Grund
Luxembourg is a fortress city, that dominate the surrounding area, standing on a hill with a valley at its foot. This valley is home to the Grund, the loveliest place I have ever visited. It is like a mini fairytale village with pastel colour houses, all near each other creating an intersection of tight alleyway. It can be accessed through the Belle-Vue Rue, the path I advice as from there you can enjoy a beautiful view over the Grund, or by a lift that descends the cliff. The river Alzette, one of the few Luxembourgish rivers, flows through the Grund, making it even prettier ?
Admire The Notre-Dame Cathedral….
We came across this church simply wandering around as here in Luxembourg city you do not need any kinds of public transport. The centre is relatively small and it is a friendly pedestrian city. The Notre-Dame Cathedral was built 17th century in late gothic style and is the only cathedral in the country. The church is very imposing with nice glass windows that I just saw from the outside because when I went to visit, there was a massa going on inside.
…And The Royal Palace
The Luxembourgish name is Groussherzogleche, I like noticing how this language reconciles French and German. German is more predominant but there are some French elements like the OU in the word. Let’s back to our Royal Palace that was originally used as town hall but later destroyed because of a thunder and reconstructed by a Spanish architect following the flemish fashion, as we can tell from the style of the façades. The building went through other damages in the next centuries but now it is the residence of the royal family. The palace is in the middle of the city, it is not hard at all to encounter it, and if you are lucky enough, you can witness the guard marching (something like the guard changing in Buckingham Palace in London).
Finding Markets Around
While wandering aimlessly around, we came across a small flea market located on the town hall square and a small food street market where there were many stalls selling various food: French fries, Brettell, bratwurst, waffles…wait waffles?! We both love them to death so we could not resist to the temptation and bought one with cream on the top ? too good! Now I am drooling…
A Breathtaking Sight Over The Old Town From The Casemates Du Bock
Casemates is a place, situated a bit far away from the centre (but here the distances are relatively small) with a breathtaking view over the city and on the Grund. Casemates were some underground tunnels, dag by the Spaniards at first and expanded by the French later, used to defend the territory of Luxembourg. Now it is a tourist attraction where people can enter to explore around. I did not go inside but I just sat down outside in order to enjoy the view and take some photos.
Tasting Local Restaurants
Luxembourg is famous for being very expensive, especially when it comes to food but for us a trip is not complete if we do not, at least, taste something from the local cuisine. I really do not have idea of what dishes Luxembourgish cuisine is made up of but I supposed it was similar to German cuisine. We decided to eat in a restaurant in the Old Town, otherwise known as Grund, because the price was fair and hey, we did not expect such price in a such picturesque place! I ordered Spätzle, which is a typical dish from the south of Germany, that came with a big salad. I really loved the taste of Spätzle with cheese but I must say it is a bit heavy so I advise you not to take more dishes or else you will explode ahah
Have a Look at The Shopping Street
I am not a fan of the shopping tourism, I rarely hunt around for famous shops when I travel but I never deny a visit to the shopping area of a city, it is also a good way to see how locals spend their day and who knows, you can even find something cheap and nice! In Luxembourg, we stopped at the main shopping street of the capital, Grand-Rue: It is a pedestrian street that flows through the city centre and connect many parts of the city so we used it as a transit to a place to another and, since we were passing by, we decided to stop and have a look.