ELEVATOR OF THE PFAFFENTHAL, A DIZZYING VIEW.
It is true that due to its particular geography Luxembourg City offers countless views from the heights. If you want to add a particularly spectacular perspective of the city and its valleys, we recommend you experience this modern panoramic lift.
Opened in 2016, the Pfaffenthal elevator connects the Pescatore park in the upper town with the Pfaffenthal district at the foot of the valley formed by the river Alzette.
This all-glass construction is perfect for admiring the landscapes to the east and north of Luxembourg.
It is also one of the few free attractions in the Grand Duchy capital.
The lift has a capacity of 5,000 kg and can accommodate up to 6 cyclists and 12 pedestrians. It covers the 60 metres between the two parts of the city in 30 seconds, saving you a steep walk downhill to the Pfaffenthal district, one of the oldest in Luxembourg. The Roman road from Trier to Reims used to pass through here, and the proximity of the water led to the settlement of tanners, brewers and dyers in the Middle Ages.
The base of the lift is located in the heart of this historic district and ascends directly to the Pescatore park, where you will find a direct connection to cycle paths and the city´s pedestrian walkways.
To make it easy to cyclists, the cabin is provided with two large opposing doors, so they do not have to move between the upper and lower accesses. Suspended towards the valley, the cabin is completely outside and is glazed from floor to ceiling. If you get dizzy at the emptiness at your feet, take shelter in the middle of the unglazed floor.
At the top exit of the lift hangs a footbridge on the side of the tower, which juts out over the valley in a cantilever of more than 9 metres with fantastic views over the architectural heritage of the city: the medieval district of Pfaffenthal, the "Red Bridge", the continuously developing district of Kirchberg and the Bock, witness of the origins of the city in the year 963.
The construction of this public lift was a project with many challenges: to promote mobility for pedestrians and cyclists, to connect a medieval district with a fast and free means of transport, and to create an emblematic engineering work for the neighbour integrated into a UNESCO protected landscape.
The lift operates every day from 6 h to 13 h. It is out of service every first Monday of the month for maintenance (from 9 h to 5.45 h of the following day).
Practical, sustainable, aesthetic, and, if you are not afraid of heights, this transparent lift in Luxembourg offers you an unforgettable experience with breathtaking views.
Address: 2, Rue du Pont
DELICIOUS NATIONAL DISH WITH MYSTERIOUS NAME
Many of Luxembourg´s traditional dishes reflect the Grand Duchy´s agricultural heritage and its location between Germany, France and Belgium. Delve into its gastronomy and you´ll find that the country´s cuisine combines rustic German simplicity, French delicacy and even a touch of Iberian flavour.
Luxembourg´s best dishes, often incorporating meat, fish, potatoes, little cream and wine, are not for dieters. But if you fancy a hearty and tasty meal, why not try some of the delicious options the Luxembourgers prepare at home?
Judd mat Gaardebounen is considered the national food of Luxembourg. This generous plate consists of smoked and salted pork (Judd) with broad beans (Gaardebounen). To make it, the smoked collar of pork is soaked overnight in water.
The next day, it is placed in a pot with vegetables such as leeks, carrots and celery, and spices such as bay leaves and cloves. It is then simmered for several hours watered with a dash of Moselle wine until tender.
Boil the broad beans in water for 5 minutes and prepare the sauce with diced bacon, chopped onion and flour; brown in butter in a saucepan, pour in the meat stock and simmer for about 20 minutes.
When ready, the pork is cut into thick slices and placed on a bed of creamy bean and potato sauce.
The cooker usually sautés the potatoes or fries them with bacon; it can also be served with boiled potatoes. If you order Judd mat Gaardebounen in a Luxembourg restaurant, be sure to arrive with a big appetite, because the portions are usually huge. You can accompany it with a good local wine or beer.
The name has an etymological mystery: although the meaning of Gaardebounen is clear (broad beans), the origin of the word Judd is not.
Jean-Claude Müller, a linguist at the Institut Grand-Ducal in Luxembourg, suggests that it comes from the Spanish word ‘judía’. He explains that in Spain there is also a pork dish served with beans that are locally called ‘judías’, in the past pronounced ‘shudías’. Müller suggests that the food may have been brought to Luxembourg by Spanish troops during the XVI or XVII century. It has also been argued that the term derives from the Spanish word “judío” which means Jew, because the dark colour of the beans was reminiscent of the dark skin of Spanish Jews.
If you are in Luxembourg and feel like trying a hearty local dish, do not hesitate and have Judd mat Gaardebounen, which is also the national plate of Luxembourg.
Address: Brasserie du Cercle
2a Rue des Capucines
PÉCKVILLERCHER: TYPICAL, NICE AND CHEAP
If you fancy a shopping spree in Luxembourg, you´ll find that it´s not exactly a cheap place to fill your suitcase with gifts. It´s true that despite being such a small country it has a good range of typical products, from Moselle wines and other local produce to expensive watches and jewellery, which you´ll find in the luxury shops in and around the Grand Rue.
But if you want a more culturally specific souvenir that´s also quite cheap, choose a simple ´Péckvillercher´: a Luxembourgish ceramic whistle bird shaped that lovers used to exchange on Easter Monday.
A tradition whose origins lie in old rites where the sound of primitive whistles made of clay or bone celebrated the return of spring.
In Easter Monday, the potters´ guild feast in the church of St Michael was celebrated, perhaps because of a passage from the Bible: "And the vessel he was making of clay in the potter´s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do" (Jer 18:4-5). This verse is associated with the resurrection and was present in the liturgies of that day.
A potters´ market grew out of this festival. According to the chronicles, on Easter Monday there was a small fair, mainly of pottery, in front of the Church of St Michael, which attracted a large number of people, especially children. A police inspector of the time proposed in a letter to the town council to move this fair to the fish market that was to be built from 1827 onwards. He claimed that the great noise caused by the market and the shouting of the children disturbed the mass in St Michael.
It is believed that the children were attracted by the toys that the potters gave to the children of their customers, among which whistles were very important, like all over Europe.
Today, it is an annual tradition that on Easter Monday families take their children to the stalls in the
narrow streets surrounding the Marché-aux-Poissons square in the city centre, and choose from the wide range of whistles on sale.
Fortunately, you don´t have to wait until Easter Monday to get your Péckvillercher - several shops in the centre, as well as the Tourist Office, sell them in a variety of colours and styles, so you can find a personalized one to take home as a souvenir for each of your loved ones.
Address: Tourist office
30 Plaza Guillaume II
THE PHOTOGENIC HOME OF THE GRAND DUKES AND DUCHESSES
Due to Luxembourg´s particular topography, there are so many places with spectacular views, you´ll have great opportunities to take panoramic pictures of the upper city and the gorges at its foot.
However, an iconic building to take a selfie it´s the Grand Ducal Palace with its impressive Flemish Renaissance façade, a fascinating site to admire from the outside.
Erected as a town hall in the heart of the historic city centre, the building was transformed several times during its 450-year history.
Destroyed after a terrible gunpowder explosion in 1554, the palace was rebuilt 20 years later in Renaissance style. The left wing, with its decorated façade and elegant turrets, can still be admired in its original form.
In 1859 it was extended with the Chamber of Deputies, built to the right of the Palace. Since 1890 the palace is the residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and it is where he performs most of his duties as head of state.
The Grand Ducal Palace is extremely easy to photograph thanks to its location in front of an empty space. However, for even more interesting shots, be sure to walk along some of the surrounding side streets. If you do, you will be rewarded with images of the palace framed by the old houses leading up to it.
During World War II, the ducal family had to go into exile and the Nazis used the palace as a tavern and concert hall. Much of the furniture and art objects were damaged or destroyed.
In 1945, Grand Duchess Charlotte returned from exile and the ducal family was able to move back into the building, which underwent extensive restoration.
From the street you can admire its striking architecture and ornate masonry. In addition to its Flemish Renaissance style, you will be surprised by the marked Hispano-Moorish influence of the façade, although there are experts who do not see it that way: as the Renaissance is a revival of classical Greek and Roman antiquity, these sandstone decorations would not be arabesques inspired by the Alhambra, but modified Roman patterns.
The relatively modest size of the Grand Ducal Palace may surprise you as it is the official residence of a head of state. You will also find it very accessible, there are no fences at the front (only at the rear section where vehicles enter), and there are only two soldiers visibly guarding the entrance. Also here, the changing of the guard is part of a tourist attraction. During July and August, the palace opens its doors to show off its magnificently furnished period interiors.
The Ducal Palace is one of the most emblematic buildings in Luxembourg - you can´t say you´ve been to the capital of the Grand Duchy if you don´t have your photo taken next to it.
Address: 17 Rue du Marché-aux-Herbes.
THE CEMETERY OF THE LOSERS
Military cemeteries are among the most moving memorials you can visit in Luxembourg. The American Cemetery and Memorial, one of the most famous in Europe, is home to American soldiers who died in World War II. It is a classic-looking American military cemetery, with thousands of simple white crosses equidistant on a large green lawn.
Many people who visit this famous site leave without seeing a similar cemetery just a short walk away, which contrasts sharply with this one. Sober, simple and solitary, the German Military Cemetery at Sandweiler offers another perspective on the war. Very different from the American one, but equally powerful.
The rows of roughly carved stone crosses give a completely different atmosphere from that of the American crosses with their gleaming white marble, a darker, more sombre feeling; here the vegetation seems to grow more out of its air, the impression is totally different from that of the well-kept lawns of the neighbouring cemetery.
The construction began in 1952; it was the first cemetery built abroad by the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge, the Germany´s war graves commission. The American mortuary service regrouped and buried 5,599 German soldiers who had fallen in the winter fighting of 1944/1945 and were temporarily buried in border areas between Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany.
In agreement with the Luxembourg authorities, the Commission also regrouped and buried 5,286 other fallen scattered in 150 communities in Luxembourg, some of them recovered from mass graves. Work was also carried out to identify the remains as far as possible and to prepare the final cemetery.
The German Military Cemetery in Sandweiler was inaugurated in 1955 in the presence of more than 2,000 relatives and school delegations from different German federal states. The population of Luxembourg and especially the inhabitants of Sandweiler also took part.
The cemetery is divided into 18 plots. The natural stone crosses over the graves are inscribed on both sides, some with up to six names. The entrance is through a narrow gate in a small massive black granite building, partly hidden by vegetation. The cemetery is a line of graves marked by a granite cross indicating the rank, name, date of birth and death of the soldiers. In the centre is a large cross, 5 metres high, resting on a circular pedestal on which are bronze plaques bearing the names of 4,019 soldiers. Below the cross is a mass grave with more than 800 unknown German soldiers.
The last buried remains were those of an unknown German soldier discovered in 2007 in the woods of Wiltz.
If you visit the American military cemetery in Luxembourg, be sure to visit the neighbouring German cemetery in Sandweiler. The contrast between the two will make you reflect on a not-so-distant past, on the fortune of the victors and defeated in wars. And perhaps you will agree with the Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer that "soldiers´ graves are the great preachers of peace".
Address: Cimetière Militaire Allemand at Sandweiler, Sandweiler, Luxembourg
EXPLORE THE CASEMATES
A casemate is a fortified gun emplacement or armored structure from which guns are fired. Originally, the term referred to a vaulted chamber in a fortress. Today, the term is used in a very general way and can refer to installations of various types and sizes.
Luxembourg´s casemates comprise an extensive network of defensive galleries beneath the city´s ground. They provide a wonderful opportunity to learn about the history of what it is called "Gibraltar of the North" and the different European powers that controlled its territory centuries ago. They are also an excellent point for beautiful views of the city, which is why they are one of
Luxembourg´s main attractions.
The first casemates were dug in the XVII century under Spanish rule, then successively extended by the French and Austrians to a length of 23 km. This defence system, which extended over several storeys, included excavated galleries up to 40 metres deep. The casemates were used to link the different bastions of the city and to provide shelter during sieges. They could serve as barracks for hundreds of soldiers and their horses, as well as kitchens, bakeries and workshops.
After the Treaty of London of 1867 guaranteeing Luxembourg´s neutrality, the casemates and other Luxembourg fortifications were dismantled. But it was impossible to blow up all the galleries without destroying a large part of the city, so the entrances were sealed and one part was left untouched.
In 1933, parts of the tunnels were opened to the public. During the two World Wars, the casemates functioned as a shelter and provided room for up to 35,000 people during air and bombing raids.
The Luxembourg casemates are today a fascinating spectacle to learn about the history of Europe, a colossal work of art with 17 km of galleries to explore. The numerous openings to the outside also offer magnificent views of the Grund, Clausen and Pfaffenthal districts.
There are two main sites comprising these famous underground galleries: the Bock and the Petrusse, however, only the first one is open to the public.
The Bock casemates are open from 10 h to 17 h daily.
Wear good walking shoes, the surface is anything but flat and you will have to climb quite a few steps along the way. There are spiral staircases, some of the corridors are rather gloomy, sometimes narrow or not very high, if you´re a bit claustrophobic, it might be better to just admire the view outside. It´s easy to get lost in the labyrinth of tunnels but don´t worry, there is a signposted route.
Explore the casemates, learn about their fascinating history and enjoy beautiful discoveries with each opening to the outside.
Address: Casemates du Bock, 10 Montée de Clausen.
THE VICISSITUDES OF THE GOLDEN LADY
Gëlle Fra, "Golden Lady", is the nickname given to the monument you will see in the Constitution Square. Created by Luxembourg sculptor Claus Cito, it was originally intended to commemorate the fallen Luxembourg soldiers of the World War I.
Germany occupied Luxembourg during the Great War, the nation could do little to help the Allied powers, but some 3,700 Luxembourgers living outside the country volunteered for the French army, more than 2,000 of them fell on the battlefield. The original monument was created to honour their bravery and sacrifice.
The ´Monument du Souvenir´, as it is officially known, consists of a raised pedestal supporting a 21-metre-high obelisk. At its top, the gilded bronze statue of a woman representing Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, with outstretched arms, holds a laurel wreath. At the foot of the pedestal are two bronze statues: a seated man watches over the recumbent body of a fallen comrade in battle.
Before its inauguration the monument caused some controversy, the intrepid depiction of the female figure provoked controversy, some of the population was upset, and the Bishop of Luxembourg did not even attend the ceremony on 27 May 1923.
When the Germans reoccupied the Grand Duchy during the World War II, there were several attempts by the Nazis to destroy the monument for being a Luxembourg national symbol.
Construction companies and their workers refused to demolish it; protest actions, mostly led by young Luxembourgers, were violently broken up; a three-metre-high wooden fence was erected around Gëlle Fra, but on 21 October 1940 the monument was finally demolished with the help of steel cables.
The bronze figures at the base were previously rescued by a construction company, but the golden figure was broken into three pieces when it collapsed, and it seems that the Nazis broke it into even smaller pieces and then hid them. However, there are also rumours that the Church was involved in its disappearance, as it still disapproved Gëlle Fra´s insinuating attire, but this has never been confirmed, so most Luxembourgers assume that the Germans put it away it because of its importance as a national symbol.
The fact is that Gëlle Fra was lost for 35 years, until it reappeared in 1980 buried under the main stand of the National Stadium. After extensive restoration work, the original was put on display in the Luxembourg museum, a replica was placed on the obelisk and the monument was re-inaugurated on 23 June 1985 in the presence of the Grand Duke and the entire government.
Today the monument commemorates Luxembourgers who died in all the wars. The reappeared Gëlle Fra, the "Golden Lady", is the national symbol of the freedom and resistance of the Luxembourg people.
Address: Monument du Souvenir, Constitution Square.
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BALCONY IN EUROPE
In the early XX century, the writer and journalist Batty Weber described Luxembourg´s "Chemin de la Corniche" or "Corniche Way" as "the most beautiful balcony in Europe", a title it preserves to this day. This pedestrian walkway will provide you with spectacular views over the Alzette river canyon and the lower town of Grund.
The Corniche overlooks the most picturesque parts of Luxembourg, winding along the city walls erected in the XVII century by the Spaniards and later reinforced by the French. Throughout its history, Luxembourg has changed sovereignty according to the dynastic and political ups and downs of Europe.
During the XVI and XVII centuries the Duchy of Luxembourg and the other provinces that composed the territory of the Netherlands belonged to the Habsburgs of Spain. The duchy was involved in many wars between the Spaniards and the French for hegemony in Europe. Because of its strategic position, the Spaniards transformed Luxembourg into one of the most impregnable fortresses of the time. However, in 1684 the fortress of Luxembourg was taken by the French armies of Louis XIV after a long siege led by Vauban, the French military engineer who later continued the fortification.
The Corniche path begins on the left of the church of Saint Michael. The route, established in 1875, links the old neighbours of the upper town with the citadel of the Holy Ghost Spirit.
The church of Saint Michel itself is worth a visit, it is the oldest church in the city and houses valuable paintings and altarpieces; on the right, along the Rue Large, the descent to the picturesque Grund district begins.
From the top, the walk offers a magnificent view of this district, situated in the Alzette valley at the foot of the upper town.
Neumünster Abbey, St. John´s Church, the Wenzel Wall or even the Rham Plateau are splendidly visible from the road.
Until 1870, certain steep slopes of the Corniche still had stairs that had to be dismantled to level the path and a large part of the battlements that flanked it also disappeared, thus allowing the magnificent view over the valley. The walk along the top of the wall continues along Victor Thorn Boulevard to the Dräi Tier tower.
Although Luxembourg´s particular geography offers you many possibilities for a walk, the Chemin de la Corniche is one of the most visually rewarding and this is why it is called "most beautiful balcony in Europe". Don´t forget your camera to capture those postcard views that captivate all visitors.
Address: Chemin de la Corniche.
THE SQUARE TO SOCIALIZE IN LUXEMBOURG
After a walk in a city with such an irregular topography as Luxembourg, you might want to stop for a beer in one of the cafés around the Place d´Armes, the favourite place for Luxembourgers to take a break from their daily activities.
The Place d´Armes is the centre of social life in the upper town. In summer and on sunny days it is surrounded by terraces and is an ideal place to rest and observe local people relaxing and chatting with friends.
It is located in the centre of the old town, in the Ville-Haute district.
Its historical purpose was to serve as a parade ground for the troops defending the city. After a great fire in 1554 that destroyed much of the Ville Haute, the design of a new square in the centre of the fortified city was planned and the job was assigned to the Dutch military engineer Sebastiaan van Noyen, who designed the first version.
In 1671, the Franco-Spanish engineer Jean Charles de Landas, Count of Louvigny, gave it its present form, then known as Place d´Armes, as it was used as a parade ground for the garrison.
Under the reign of Louis XIV it was paved with flagstones and surrounded by lime trees.
The City Palace or "Cercle Cité", as it is generally known, is located at the eastern end of the square.
Originally designed in 1906 as an administrative building with reception rooms. After a period used for the Court of Justice of the European Communities, since the 1970s, the City Palace has served as a venue for cultural celebrations and events.
At the western end of the Place d´Armes, following the Jan Palach square, in addition to a plaque commemorating this martyr of the Prague Spring, there is a monument in honour of the two national poets, Edmond de la Fontaine, called Dicks, and Michel Lentz, authors of Luxembourg´s national anthem.
The lion at the top of the monument symbolises the Grand Duchy, while the blacksmith represents the steel industry. The inscription on the pillar: Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sin (We want to stay what we are) is the Luxembourg national motto.
Today, the square is part of the pedestrian zone in the city centre. There are several cafés and restaurants around it, all with outdoor terraces when the weather allows it.
The Place d´Armes has become the place to discover the city and is an attractive urban space for locals and visitors. Concerts or events are held on the open-air stage almost every summer evening.
If you feel like taking a break and rest in a historic square in old Luxembourg, the Place d´Armes is the place for you.
Address: Place d´Armes.
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