Happy Cinco de Mayo! From our Miami lockdown, we are sharing yet another interesting location from our 2014 European tour, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, but commonly referred to as simply Luxembourg.
Luxembourg is a tiny landlocked 998-square-mile country surrounded by Germany, France, and Belgium. It is mostly rural, and the capital city, Luxembourg City, is famed for both its medieval center perched high on a cliff, and its old town situated along the river down below. Influenced by its neighbors, the three official languages here are German, French, and Luxembourgish.
We were only in the city for two days, but enjoyed both the lower and upper old towns. They were very different, yet both beautiful. Luxembourg was one of the great fortified areas of medieval Europe. Its high, craggy location provided a setting to build a fortress that was one of the greatest in the world.
The first two photos are of the upper old town, taken from the lower old town, which has many pretty stone bridges crossing the Alzette River. Many restaurants and cafes line the river, providing gorgeous, lazy views. Do you see the “cutouts” in the bluff?? They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, called the Bock Casemates, as this defensive fortress was constructed on the Bock promontory. The complex had 24 forts, 16 other strong defensive works, and a unique 14-mile-long network of casemates, or fortified chambers. They sheltered thousands of soldiers and their horses, and also housed bakeries, kitchens, slaughterhouses, and workshops. The superstructure of the Bock was razed in 1875, and 90 percent of its fortifications were demolished. But the casemates could not be demolished without destroying a majority of the city along with them, so the casemates were left in place and sealed off, leaving a remaining 10 miles of tunnels. Luckily for us, these are open to the public in the upper old town. The last three photos were taken inside the tunnels. They were fun to explore, but were very dark even in the early afternoon, so most of the photos did not come out very clearly.
The other photos are peeks of the lower town from the upper. We could not get close to the palace, as there was an event taking place, but there is a pretty gold side gate with a crown and a lion! So…just a few little glimpses of Luxembourg City, a great destination by train if you are in any of the surrounding countries.