Have you ever heard of Luxembourg, one of the smallest countries in Europe? A lot of persons did not. With a surface of only 2,586 square kilometres and a population of 576.249 it is a rather underestimated travel destination. And thus, our small country has a lot to offer when it comes to touristic attractions. We are not only the last Grand Duchy in the world but we also have a very green capital city, which has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since almost 20 years.
So let’s start with a virtual round tour in our beautiful capital city with a lot of historical and cultural highlights.
Place Guillaume II
The starting point for a walking tour around Luxembourg City is definetely the Place Guillaume or how a Luxembourger call it, the “Knuedler”. It is one of the two town squares in Luxembourg City. It is the place-to-be on Wednesdays and Saturdays because at those days you can meet the locals at the market. It is also the place where all the open air concerts are held and other events, such as the festiveness of our National day.
The City Hall is also located on the Place Guillaume II and if you are lucky enough, you can see some marriages, which are celebrated in the City Hall. Just beside the City Hall is a fountain with a fox on top. This is a memory of Michel Rodange, a Luxembourgish writer and poet who is known for writing Luxembourg’s national epic, Renert. The Renert is a red fox and therefor the statue of the fox.
As there is never a big place without any big statue, Place Guillaume also hosts one. Here it is an equestrian statue of the former Grand Duke Whilliam II who was also the King of the Netherlands. The statue is placed that the former Grand Duke looks in the direction of the Grand Ducal Palace.
Grand Ducal Palace
The Grand Ducal Palace is the official residence of the Grand Ducal family. Nowadays it is only the working place of the Grand Duke where he performs most of his duties as head of state of the Grand Duchy.
The Palace has no big gardens around it because the city was built around this amazing building. Therefor it is rather crowded in the heart of the old city of Luxembourg. At old times it was the building was the City Hall but that changed in 1817.
At daytime there are always guards in front of the Palace to maintain order and assure the security of the people inside the palace.
If you are planning to visit Luxembourg this summer, be sure to book a guided tour within the Grand Ducal Palace. Once a year they open their doors for the public. This year it is from the 15.07 to the 03.09. You can walk through all the rooms inside the Palace, which is a really unique opportunity. It is a quite well-booked activity, so be sure to book it on time.
The Chocolate House is located just in front of the Grand Ducal Palace and is certainly a place not to miss in Luxembourg City, especially when you are a chocolate lover.
The owner is passionated by chocolate and is convinced that it makes everything better. So here you’ll get high quality chocolate in a very cozy atmosphere. So the perfect place to drink a hot chocolate with a huge piece of cake.
Lea Linster is a Luxembourgish gold medal winner of the 1989 Bocuse d’Or. She is the first and until now the only woman who won the Bocuse d’Or.
The most famous restaurant that Léa Linster owns is certainly the Restaurant Léa Linster in Frisange, a little bit outside of Luxembourg City. In 1987 she has received a Michelin star and in 1996 she awarded the Gastronomic Golden Key from Gault et Millau.
Beside the restaurant Restaurant Léa Linster, there is a shop in the city of Luxembourg where you can buy her delicatessen. She is famous for her excellent Madeleines, which you absolutely have to try. The Boutique also includes a tea salon and a shop where she sells pastries, vine and other delicious goods. Be sure to put a quick stop at the Delicatessen Boutique of Léa Linster.
House of Luxembourg
Just beside the Delicatessen Boutique of Léa Linster is the Luxembourg House where you can buy everything that is made in Luxembourg or in any relation with our beautiful country.
You can chose between wine over jam to scarfs and so much more. If want to bring something special from Luxembourg home with you, this is the place to buy something.
The Place Clairefontaine is also a square between the Cathedral Notre Dame and the Chamber of Deputies. It hosts also some of the Luxembourgish ministries such as the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of State.
There is also a statue on the place. This time it is our former Grand Duchesse Charlotte. In Luxembourg this statue is also known as “Heeschefraa”, which means beggar woman. This is because of her hand, which is positioned as if she would beg.
The Judiciary City, or Cité judiciaire in French and also how the Luxembourg call it, is located in the south of Luxembourg City on the Saint-Esprit plateau. This is the place where all of the courts and legal offices are located.
Between all the judicial buildings is also situated the elevator to get down to the Grund, a very beautiful part of Luxembourg City.
In the Judiciary City you will also find one of the best Viewpoints of Luxembourg City. To get there you simply have to pass the Cour Supérieure de Justice with its fascinating colourful vases and there you are.
Once you are standing there, you will have the impression to be in a fairy tale. Between all the green trees there is the Bock rock, a famous part of the former fortifications. Down in the valley is the Grund with the Neumünster Abbey with the Alzette River. This abbey is a meeting point for culture in Luxembourg. In 1542 the original abbey on the Altmünster Plateau had been destroyed and so in 1606 the monks built a new abbey called Neumünster which also had been destroyed by a fire in 1684 an again rebuilt in 1688 on the same site. Before it became our modern meeting point, the abbey had served at several times as a prison.
Chemin de la Corniche
From the Saint-Esprit Plateau, you can take one of our most beautiful walking trails in Luxembourg City, the Chemin de la Corniche. This walking path is also known as one of the most beautiful balconies of Europe. The whole path goes from the Saint-Esprit Plateau to the Bock rock.
The view on the whole trail will leave you speechless. You’ll never recognise that you are in a real capital city with all of the green trees and rivers. The Luxembourgish capital city is so different from all other capital cities because you will find no place without a tree or park
Down in the Grund, there sits also the statue of a little mermaid called Melusina. She played a role in a Luxembourgish fairy tale story with count Siegfried.
The Bock rock, or in Luxembourgish the Bockfiels, is the cradle of Luxembourg City. Siegfried acquired this massive rocky ledge in 963. He built his castle on this rock because it is a really strategically place. It is surrounded on three sides by the Alzette valley and so it is only accessible from one side.
The Luxembourgish fortification is also called Gibraltar of the North. Indeed, the former fortifications were really easy to defend because of its rock. Today there are only 10% left of the original fortress of Luxembourg. I always ask myself how Luxembourg City had looked like back in time when the fortification still existed.
Today, these 10% of the fortification attracts a lot of visitors and I have to admit that it is absolutely worth it. There are not so many capital cities in the world where you can easily walk over and under the old fortifications.
The Casemates are also a well known highlight of Luxembourg City. Basically they had been built as an immense underground military defence system. The first casemates where built in 1644 by the Spanish. Those are the Pétrusse Casemates. The Bock Casemates dated back to 1745 and were constructed by the Austrians.
You can easily walk through the casemates, from the main gallery you’ll find a lot of small tunnels leading to the outside of the casemates. In the end of every single tunnel you’ll have an amazing view over different parts of Luxembourg City.
One could spend hours inside the casemates by letting you lead by the mystery of the place. Unluckily, the fortress had been dismantled in 1867 because of the neutralisation of Luxembourg and so the casemates had been reduced to only 17 km. Since 1994, the casemates are a part of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Fishmarket is a street and part of Luxembourg City. Historically, it was the center of the city and so also known as the heart of the Castle of Luxembourg. It got its name from its use as a marketplace where they sold fish and other products. Today it hosts several bars and restaurants and also the National Museum of History and Art and the Saint Michael’s Church.
The Place d’Armes is the other big square in Luxembourg City. It is the meeting point for people and offers therefore a lot of cafés and restaurants. In summertimes, there are often concerts played at the middle of the Plëss (how we call it in Luxembourgish), which makes it a really beautiful atmosphere.
So after this virtual tour through Luxembourg and its history, be sure to not miss such an amazing and unique city in the center of Europe. If you need any help or have some specific questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Luxembourgish City Tourist Office, which is located on the Place Guillaume II.
Disclaimer: I have been a guest of the Tourism Board of Luxembourg. All opinions are my own.