The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg with a population of only 435,700 is bordered by Belgium on the north and west, Germany on the east, and France on the south. It has an area of 2,586 sq km (998 sq mi). Therefore it is the smallest country in the European Union. Luxembourg is one of the world’s most industrialised countries and has the highest standard of living in the EU.
Founded in 963, Luxembourg became a grand duchy in 1815 and an independent state under the Netherlands. It lost more than half of its territory to Belgium in 1839, but gained a larger measure of autonomy. Full independence was attained in 1867. Overrun by Germany in both World Wars, it ended its neutrality in 1948 when it entered into the Benelux Customs Union and when it joined NATO the following year. In 1957, Luxembourg became one of the six founding countries of the European Economic Community (later the European Union) and in 1999 it joined the euro currency. The center of Luxembourg is Luxembourg city and there are a number of other beautiful small cities and villages to visit. Really worth a visit is Echternach and Vianden. All places can be easily visited in a day from the capital or neighbouring Trier.
Luxembourg City is the heart of the country in cultural, political and social respect. It is not only the country’s capital but also one of the three capitals of the European Community (the other two being Strassbourg and Brussels).
Moreover, Luxembourg city is a banking centre and cosmopolitan town surrounded by magnificent historical fortifications, classified as world patrimony by UNESCO. The city is very pleasantly situated on the Ardenne foothills overlooking the Pétrusse and Alzette Valleys. Luxembourg was founded in 963 AD on a rocky outcrop known as “the Bock”, by Sigefroid, Count of Ardennes who laid the cornerstone of a fortress later becoming Luxembourg City.
Luxembourg does not seem to be very attractive compared to Paris or Brussels, but it has a lot of charm and its people are justifiably proud of their country. The nation’s motto ‘Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sin’ (We want to remain what we are) underlines the uniqueness of Luxembourg.
Apart from the numerous beautiful sights, the city of Luxembourg offers quite a good nightlife with a large number of pubs, cafes and discos despite of its small population of less than 100.000 people. By the way, more than 25% of the capital’s population is of foreign origin. The biggest ethnic community is actually from Portugal, rendering a special Latin touch to the city . So it is no suprise that Luxembourg is a fantastic place for eating out.
Luxembourg city is an ideal starting point for excursions all over, e.g. for visiting remarkable destinations like Vianden Castle, Wiltz Festival Town or the Abbey Town of Echternach. Getting there is easy on the well-developed road network or by train and coach.
Located near the German border this town is the site of the Castle of Vianden the largest castle in the region.
Vianden is also known for the house of Victor Hugo which houses a small museum nowadays. There is also a folklore museum. The area around Vianden is very scenic. You can easily imagine how old Victor Hugo wandered around the woods.
Vianden is 40 km northeast of Luxembourg City.
Echternach was badly damaged during the Second World War. Reconstruction has been quite succesful and the smaal city has regained some of its former glory. The narrow streets , the medieval ramparts and old patrician houses look great in thier new shape and form. Highlights include the Gorge du Loup, the Museum of Prehistory and the 7th-century basilica and Benedictine abbey. Echtenach is about 30 km northeast of Luxembourg city.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons.