Luxembourg – A vibrant ancient city, full of life, colour, and historic sites.
Luxembourg What? Is that a city? Where is that?
We thought so. Luxembourg isn’t a destination that frequents a not-so-regular traveller’s mouth. It is often overlooked when planning a European travel adventure, yet it ranks high up there as one of the most charming places to visit on the continent.
It takes one to two hours to drive from the north to the south of the country, making it more like a big town than a country so to speak.
Its entire population is approximately 525,000 people of which 43% are foreign residents. Making Luxembourg, when to other countries in Europe, one with the highest number of ex-pats. For this reason, it is a melting pot of many other cultures.
In the same fashion, 70% of the country’s workforce are foreign ex-pats, a lot of which commute daily from the surrounding countries.
Three official languages
There are three official languages: German, French, and Luxembourgish. The word Luxembourgish gets me chuckling each time. How absolutely adorable does it sound? It definitely is not your conventional word used for a language.
German and French are primarily used for administrative purposes and written communication while Luxembourgish is used in everyday conversations. In school, everybody has to learn German beginning in first grade, French at the end of second grade and English in 8th grade.
Interestingly, most residents here speak on average 4 – 7 different languages with Portuguese being another main one.
They call it Grand Dutchy for a reason.
Luxembourg is the only remaining Grand Duchy in the world with a monarch dating back to Holy Roman Times. In other words, it is the only country that has a Grand Duke as a head of the state.
This monarchy is a key element for the Luxembourgish state and nation. For Luxembourgers, it serves as a guarantee for stability and makes it an attractive country for foreign investors/ To name a few – Skype, Amazon , the RTL Group (Europe’s largest entertainment network), Paypal and Google have headquarters here.
Don’t let Luxembourg’s tiny size put you off. It is filled to the brim with fascinating things to see and so much to do.
From the historical capital of Luxembourg City, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, to the Roman ruins found in Echternach. To the many castles and beautiful landscapes found along the Mullerthal Trail, Luxembourg has quite a bit to offer.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Luxembourg is one of Europe’s greatest fortified sites and it is for this reason that UNESCO has designated the old city as a World Heritage Site.
Originally the city comprised of a small fort that was built on an almost inaccessible rock in the 10th century.
The impressive walls we see today have been built into and around a very steep rocky outcrop of a natural fortification.
Even more fascinating is that it has moved from one great European power to another and has been constantly strengthened and reinforced. The Holy Roman Emperors, the House of Burgundy, the Habsburgs, the French and Spanish kings, and finally the Prussians.
Today, evidence of all of these eras remain through the number of gates, forts, bastions, redoubts and casemates.
What’s more, is that the streets of the old quarter still represent the original layout and house many of the original public buildings that still bear the imprint of their former inhabitants. The church of St. Michel, now converted to a veritable museum of sacred art is one such building.
The city has no shortage of things to see. Arguably the most notable one is the Bock Casemates, also part of the world heritage sights in the city.
These atmospheric 21km long honeycomb rock galleries and passages are found beneath the Montée de Clausen, the clifftop site of Count Sigefroi’s once-mighty fort. They were initially carved out in 1644 during the Spanish domination era.
The tunnels are 23km long and on some floors, you will find defensive passages that reach down as far as 40 metres. It is because of these that this fort has been given the name of the “Gibraltar of the North”. It is the most powerful emplacement in the world.
Not only has the casemates housed everything from garrisons, bakeries and slaughterhouses, but during WWI and WWII it was used to shelter 35,000 locals.
This virtual tour gives you an in-depth look inside the casemates.
Stay in the heart of Luxembourg
This modern Youth Hostel offers accommodation in Luxembourg, only 10 minutes’ walk from Place d’Armes. It includes free Wi-Fi in the public areas, a games room and a cafeteria with a terrace. On-site private parking is possible free of charge.
Each of the dormitories at Youth Hostel Luxembourg City features a small table with chairs and a shared bathroom. Some of the rooms benefit from views over the city.
The MUDAM museum of modern art is less than a 10-minute walk from the hostel. Luxembourg Railway Station is 1.9 km from Youth Hostel City.
Luxembourgian specialities are offered in the restaurant and barbecues can be organised for groups upon request. There are also vending machines offering drinks and snacks at any time.
Guests can make use of the bicycle rental and packed lunch services when exploring the local area. There is also secure cycle storage and a shuttle service is offered for a charge.