A trip to the world’s only remaining Grand Duchy, Luxembourg, combines a historical city break with a country escape
This week Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, makes a flying visit the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the 1867 Treaty of London.
I was there recently to enjoy some of the city’s key attractions which the Duchess of Cambridge will also see, including the Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art (MUDAM) in the Kirchberg area.
With a history dating back to medieval times, Luxembourg is a fascinating city to explore. Easily navigable on foot, the ancient streets and alleyways of the old town are featured on UNESCO’s World heritage list. Later this year Luxembourg’s long awaited new tram system opens. For the moment, one can walk or travel by bus, which is free on Saturdays!
The Ducal Palace – the official residence of the Grand Duke, this impressive building stands in the heart of the city.
The Golden lady statue. This was set up in 1923 to commemorate the Luxembourgers who perished in the First World War.
The Casements – the world’s longest underground tunnel system, these 17 kilometres of tunnels are all that remains of a fortified castle on the Bock promontory built in 963.
Cathedral- The cathedral Notre-Dame of Luxembourg was built between 1613 and 1621 by the Jesuits to serve as a church to their college (now the National Library).
Just a short drive from the city one finds some of the prettiest countryside in Europe with a wealth of things to do for all ages.
A good starting point is pretty Esch sur Sure, home to the country’s oldest castle (927) and gateway to the Upper Sure Nature Park with trails, walks and even a solar powered boat for a guided tour of the reservoir. The area offers hiking, golf, fishing, sailing and enjoying the beach at the lake.
At nearby Clervaux we find another castle, built in the 12th and enlarged in the 15th century. It is home to three museums, one being the famous ‘Family of Man’ photographic exhibition compiled by Luxembourgian Edward Steichen and first shown in New York in 1955. Comprising 503 photographs by 273 artists, from 68 countries, this is a moving collection of images showing all aspects of humanity.
Known as one of the largest and most beautiful feudal residences of the Romanesque and Gothic periods in Europe is the commanding Vianden castle, built between the 1th and 14th centuries on the foundations of an old Roman fort. Restored to its former glory and under state ownership since 1977, the castle is best explored with the help of one of the excellent guides here, or with an audio guide. Before leaving Vianden, take a tour round the town, the smallest in Luxembourg which lies on the border with Germany.
On the way back to the city, worth a detour is a stop at the town of Diekirch, home to the national Museum of Military History which is primarily devoted to the Battle of the Bulge, which took place in Luxembourg in the winter of 1944/45.
The Luxembourg Card gives free access to more than 60 museums and tourist attractions, a visitors’ booklet identifying the most attractive sites to visit and travel on train and buses on the national public transport network of the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg free of charge. It costs from 13 Euros for one person for a day to 68 Euros for 3 days for a family of up to 5. www.visitluxembourg.com/en/luxembourg-card