In between Belgium, France and Germany there is one of the smallest, but, at the same time, one of the most significant countries in Europe – Luxembourg. By being home to some of the European Union institutions, major banks and other significant business corporations, Luxembourg could be a definition for a word ‘modern’. Nevertheless, happily, modern things haven’t taken away part of countries traditional – old and retro – look. So, if you, Dear Reader, would ask me to describe Luxembourg in one sentence that would sound something like: a country which prosper due to symbiosis of old and modern.
However, since we visited only country’s capital city, when I am talking about Luxembourg, I really mean Luxembourg City. And it’s been almost a week after our day trip here, but I still can’t summarize all the impressions that this city left me. It is old and modern, green and glassy, small and full of sights at the same time… Multi-faced. Yes, multi-faced! That’s what Luxembourg is.
Let me prove you that, Dear Reader. Let’s start with facts.
Some of the facts
In the 10th century on the high Bock rock at the confluence of Alzette and Pétrusse rivers Lucilinburhuc castle (‘small castle’) was built. It was the cradle of today’s Luxembourg, which over the years was transformed into superior fortress, sometimes even called Gibraltar of the North. However, sadly, the tremendous fortress, that seemed unbreakable over the hundreds of years, was destroyed almost to the ground in the mid-19th century. In spite of this, we have something saved until today. Some parts of fortress walls and more than 17 kilometers of tunnels are still available for our eyes!
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Luxembourg is the biggest city in the country with just a little bit more than 100 thousand residents. It is divided into 24 different size quarters, and, in my opinion, each of them has a totally different face and character to show for their guests.
Due to its strategic location, throughout the history city had a great significance for a neighbouring countries, mainly for France and Germany. This constant connection between the countries affected local culture significantly. Today Luxembourg speaks in three national languages and lives the life of three mixed cultures: Luxembourgish, French and German.
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What is more, city is Europe’s banking and administrative centre. Together with Brussels and Strasbourg, Luxembourg is the seat of European Union institutions, such as European Court of Justice, European Investment Bank, Secretariat of European Parliament and others. In addition to this, Luxembourg is a very attractive to financial service companies and startups, which together with EU institutions shaped city’s skyline with the beautiful skyscrapers and other modern architectural masterpieces. Not to mention people! Half of the passersby we met in the city were stylish office people having a chat on their way to lunch.
Some of our experience
Personally, after some time in the city I started to picture it by its quarters. Every one of them that we had a chance to walk through left different kind of impression. One was modern with glassy masterpieces rising to the sky, another was old and defended by a Medieval castle walls. So for me the picture of Luxembourg is as diverse, as are its quarters. And noteworthy, diverse is always more interesting!
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As usual, there are some parts that left me a deeper impression than the others. Those are three quarters: modern and glassy Kirchberg, old and authentic Grund, and historical Ville Haute quarter.
I think that this quarter is destined to be modern forever! From the locals we got the impression that construction works almost never stops here. Each building that starts to look a bit older than the others is replaced by a new one. But why so? Because Kirchberg is home for EU institutions, plus for major part of banking and administrative corporations. EU member-state flags, and flags of the international companies don’t stop to flitter in Kirchberg!
As we are a bit of an old-town lovers, we weren’t too excited about Kirchberg before going there. However, it turned out to be one of the most interesting parts of the city. We got lost around those interesting glassy buildings! But most of all we got lost in the supermarket in the middle of Kirchberg – prices and variety of things in Luxembourg is many times better than in neighbouring Benelux countries.
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It is the part of an old town located on the banks of river Alzette below the city center. Grund borders with the Bock rock and the walls of the fortress. Due to the river floating through and the cliff in front, Grund is one of the most picturesque quarters in the city. Actually, it probably is the quarter that is photographed the most in the city. Well, I am just guessing by Google search results for ‘Luxembourg‘.
It is probably strongly related with the fact that Grund holds several of the most famous sights in the city. One of them is the beautiful ancient Abbey of Neumünster. What is more, there is a really nice scenic overlook above it, with all the Grund in the background. It seemed one of the nicest places in the city. Also, we haven’t tried it for ourselves, but we have heard that Grund is the best place to experience nightlife in Luxembourg.
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It is the historical center of the city located on the Bock cliff. Ville Haute is definitely the quarter with the biggest number of significant, beautiful and interesting city sights to discover. It holds a list of celebrities like Grand Ducal Palace, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and beautiful Gëlle Fra Monument. Personally we spent most of our time in Luxembourg wandering in the streets of Ville Haute quarter.
Personally I enjoyed three things about Ville Haute. First was the scenic overlook from Gëlle Fra Monument towards the Bank Museum. The view was magnificent! To be fair, it was the place I liked the most in Luxembourg. Secondly, I love how many green areas and parks there are in Ville Haute, and how beautiful they are. And thirdly, I loved cozy Christmas atmosphere all over the quarter. Despite the fact that Christmas market wasn’t working yet, but those holiday decorations, cute wooden houses, and ice arena have already done the job – it created a nice atmosphere for upcoming holidays.
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Luxembourg is extraordinary diverse, and this is what makes it unique! Personally I enjoyed how differently the city could be seen from different quarters. What is more, each of those quarters are beautifully preserved and cherished – you won’t find untidiness here.
To sum up, Luxembourg City is a capital that every wanderer should definitely cross once in their lifetime. There are much beauty and points of interest concentrated in such a small city!
Dear Reader, have you been to Luxembourg? Do you want to visit it? I want to hear every thought you have about this city. See you in the comments!