Luxembourg-Ville - Abbey Travel, Ireland



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Welcome to Luxembourg-Ville


In the early morning haze Luxembourg City is reminiscent of an ancient fairytale city, with its towers and turrets. The old centre of town, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, can trace its history back to the 10th century, when Siegfried, Count of the Ardennes, built a castle on a rock above the Alzette River. He named the castle Lucilinburhuc. Over the centuries the castle and surrounding town was strengthened with numerous additional fortifications, walls and gates until it became known as the 'Gibraltar of the North'. Today the various components of the fortress are the city's chief tourist attraction. There are some other interesting sights in the old centre of town too, including several museums.

Modern Luxembourg on the plateau du Krichberg is more concerned with business than pleasure, as the work of a major international financial centre goes on inside the many modern office complexes in the area. Luxembourg has the highest number of banks of any city in Europe, and it is also home to numerous European Union institutions. The European Council of Ministers holds their sessions in the city for three months every year, and the European Court of Justice presides here too.

Information & Facts


Luxembourg-Ville has a mild continental climate which is marked by high precipitation and warm weather from May to September while snow is unlikely during the winter months. The northern Ardennes region tends to be wetter than the southern regions. May to October is the best time to visit Luxembourg and particularly in July and August where daily averages reach 75°F (24°C).

The official language in Luxembourg is Letzeburgesch, a conglomerate German/French dialect. French and German are commonly used, and English is widely spoken.

The currency in Luxembourg is the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents. Foreign currency and travellers cheques can be exchanged at all Luxembourg banks and bureaux de change, as well as the airport and post office Major hotels will also exchange cheques and currency, though rates are high. Major credit cards are widely accepted.

In the heart of the Ardennes Mountain region about 30 miles (50km) north of Luxembourg City, the village of Clervaux is overlooked by a 15th-century castle, a Romanesque church with twin spires, and a large Benedictine monastery. The castle houses three small museums, including one that features a collection of World War II memorabilia from the Battle of the Bulge that was fought in the region. Another room is dedicated to the Luxembourg Holocaust victims, its walls lined with mementoes of Luxembourgers who died in concentration camps. Behind the castle a road leads uphill to the monastery, where the monks sometimes hold Gregorian chant concerts. The town itself has numerous appealing restaurants and cafes.

The beautiful town of Echternach lies on the border between Germany and Luxembourg on the banks of the Sûre River. It boasts a famed abbey, founded in the 7th century by St Willibrord, whose remains are contained in a magnificent white marble sarcophagus in the crypt of the Basilica. There are also three museums in the town, one dedicated to the history of the abbey, another showcasing ancient artefacts and a third detailing rural architecture. Echternach also has its own unique event: a centuries' old traditional dancing procession takes place each Whit Tuesday, attracting thousands of pilgrims and spectators. The town is also a jumping-off point for hikers wishing to explore the area known as the Mullerthal, a fascinating landscape of curious sandstone rock formations, waterfalls, creeks, springs and forests. Also known as 'Little Switzerland', this region is criss-crossed with hiking trails and dotted with picturesque villages.

The city residence of the Grand Ducal family is right in the heart of the old town, and is surprisingly unpretentious, recognisable more by the fact that there are sentry boxes outside. The building features ochre yellow stone decorated with spires and railings, overlooking a paved pedestrian square. It was originally the site of a medieval town hall that was destroyed by a gunpowder explosion in 1554, and rebuilt 20 years later. An annex to the building was built in 1859 and is the seat of the Chamber of Deputies. Guided tours are available in July and August by arrangement with the Luxembourg City Tourist Office.

In a silent forest clearing near the village of Hamm, a few miles east of Luxembourg city, lie the graves of more than 5,000 American soldiers killed during World War II, when the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg became a battleground in the Allies' last bid for victory on the Western Front. One of the graves is that of the legendary commander, General George Patton, who died in a traffic accident just after the war. The cemetery has become a place of pilgrimage and homage, and is immaculately maintained by members of the American Battle Monuments' Commission. Not far away, at the village of Sandwieler, is a German war cemetery with some 10,000 graves.

The mighty fortress started by Count Siegfried atop the Rock of Bock in 963 eventually became a citadel with three girdles of battlements, the inner one fortified with bastions, and the other two containing a total of 24 forts along their length. As the centuries passed the stone cliff foundations underneath the castle were excavated to form a network of 14 miles (23km) of underground tunnels, called casemates, where thousands of soldiers could shelter and workshops for artillery and arms, kitchens, bakeries and slaughter-houses could be housed. The fortress saw many sieges and battles, until 1867 when the Treaty of London declared that it be demolished. Despite this, several sections of the fortress still remain, and the subterranean casements are open for viewing. Visitors can also enjoy a sound and light tour on the history of the castle. The best way to view the remaining parts of the fortifications is on foot, strolling through the cobbled streets of the old town, armed with a map from the tourist office (on the Place d'Armes).

This museum was recently substantially refurbished and contains some major archaeological finds from the Gallo-Roman period, which are displayed in underground galleries. Collections of fine arts, medieval artefacts, coins, medals and arms are also on display.

The picturesque village of Vianden, situated on the banks of the Our River and guarded by a magnificent restored medieval castle, makes a pleasant day trip about 25 miles (40km) north of the city of Luxembourg. The castle dates back to the 9th century and was originally the home of the counts of Vianden, powerful nobles between the 11th and 13th centuries. The ruined castle was restored in the 1980s and now houses a museum that recaptures life in the Middle Ages and recounts the area's troubled history. In the small town below visitors can sip tangy Moselle wines beside the stream and the cobblestone streets, while enjoying the view of the green hills.

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