Another long holiday weekend gave us another opportunity to get out-of-town. An out-of-the-country getaway, as a matter of fact, we chose to visit Luxembourg this time. One new country, it’s a big check on #travelgoals for mama and the kindje, but since we briefly crossed the German side, for the little one it’s technically 2 new ones!
A small country landlocked by Belgium, France, and Germany, Luxembourg is one of the smallest sovereign states and one of the least-populous countries in Europe, but by far the one with the highest population growth rate, thanks to foreigners taking account for nearly half of the country’s population.
Its capital, Luxembourg City, together with Brussels and Strasbourg, is one of the three official capitals of the European Union and the seat of the European Court of Justice, the highest judicial authority in the EU. Many of its inhabitants are trilingual in French, German and Luxembourgish.
Steel manufacturing was the country’s source of prosperity. Not until the decline of this industry, Luxembourg shifted its focus and priorities, and is now prominent as Europe’s most powerful investment management center.
Quick Visit to Clervaux
We started our Luxembourgian journey by stopping by at Clervaux for lunch. Clervaux is a quaint village situated amid a deep and narrow valley beside the Clerve river, the white Clervaux castle, which was originally built during the 12th century, stands prominently on a rocky spur above the town. This castle reminded me of a similar-looking castle in Nyon overlooking Geneva lake.
Besides the castle, its Benedictine Abbey of St. Maurice and St. Maur built in 1910 in Romanesque-Burgundian style is quite a must-see.
Our Stay in Vianden
After lunch, we drove away to finally reach our next destination—Vianden. Vianden must be Luxembourg’s well-kept medieval pretty outside of its city, due to its impressive castle and its beautiful location in the Our valley.
Dating back to the ninth century, its feudal manor is unrivaled in the Ardennes for its architectural significance, with the medieval outer wall encircling the town with many impressive guard towers ready to astound visitors and alike.
Our hotel is just situated beside the house where Victor Hugo lived during his exile in 1871, which now houses a collection of souvenirs of his various visits to Vianden. Several well-maintained walking paths offer access to the countryside of the Our valley, and a chairlift climbing to 440 meters high is available for visitors to enjoy splendid views.
Avancer au pas d’Echternach
The region of Mullerthal is what is claimed as Luxembourg’s “Little Switzerland,” due to its hilly landscape reminiscent of Switzerland. Here you can find Luxembourg’s oldest town, also the capital of this region called Echternach.
Situated on the bank of River Sûre, Echternach has retained its medieval ambiance thanks to its labyrinthine streets, old aristocratic houses, ancient ramparts and towers of the ancient city wall and a marketplace with a Gothic town place.
Echternach is well-known for its centuries-old Dancing Procession, which takes place on Whit Tuesday and attracts visitors all over. Before reaching the city’s Benedictine abbey and basilica founded by St. Willibrord, which had become known due to this procession, hubby blurted out, “Avancer au pas d’Echternach. Three steps forward and two steps back, have you heard about that expression?” No, I said so he went on, “To advance in the step of Echternach. To go forward to Echternach’s pace is to say go backward. It means to progress very slowly because of frequent retreats.”
This custom dates back to the sixteenth century when male pilgrims for St. Willibrord from Waxweiler started performing a hopping dance on the way to Echternach during the Whitsuntide holidays.
Nowadays, around 9,000 pilgrims from all over Europe, mostly dressed in white shirts and dark trousers, hop to a polka melody through the medieval streets of Echternach to the crypt past St. Willibrord’s tomb. The famous dancing procession of Echternach became part of UNESCO’s Intangible World Cultural Heritage in 2010.
Obviously, the seventh-century Benedictine abbey, with its four long wings built around a large square courtyard; and the Basilica that is home to a crypt with a magnificent white marble sarcophagus containing the remains of St. Willibrord are definitely the places you must visit.
Visit to Upper Sûre Natural Park and Esch-sur-Sûre
Part of the Upper Sûre Natural Park, Esch-sur-Sûre is a small village set in the mountain alongside the Sûre river. A ruined manor-house built in AD 927 is a domineering sight in this village. At its outskirts is, of course, the nature park that consists of plateaus, narrow valleys with wooded slopes, and the lake of the Upper Sûre dam.
Going around the Luxembourg Ardennes—Battle of the Bulge
The Ardennes is actually a region of extensive forests, rough terrain, rolling hills and ridges formed by the geological features of the Ardennes mountain range and the Moselle and Meuse River basins. It starts in southeast Belgium extending into Luxembourg, Germany, and France. In the Luxembourg Ardennes, you’ll find high forested plateaus, sheer cliffs, wooded hills, and hidden valleys; as well as numerous castles, fortresses, and fortified farms rising out of the hilltops.
The Ardennes is famous as the place where Hitler staged his last great campaign of World War II, which is historically known as the Battle of the Bulge. As we went around this area, we came across several monuments that commemorate this event and the deaths of war heroes.
Quick Visit to Ettelbruck & General Patton
Hubby was keen to see where General Patton lies, so off we also visited Ettelbruck.
General George Smith Patton Jr. was a senior officer of the United States Army who commanded the U.S. Seventh Army in the Mediterranean and European theaters of World War II, but is best known for his leadership of the U.S. Third Army in France and Germany following the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944. – wikipedia.org
Ettelbruck is another pleasant town in Luxembourg, but just like us, travelers from all over would visit this place to visit the monument and the museum that honor the American General Patton. In the American cemetery not far from Ettelbruck center, hubby personally visited the grave of this courageous general (our little one was taking a nap in the car, so I had to stay behind).
Located near the village of Bourscheid in north-eastern Luxembourg, the ruin of this fairy-tale medieval castle stands high on a rocky peak 137 meters above the river Sûre, enclosed by a circular wall with watchtowers.
Tour Around the City
We saved the best for last. On our final day in Luxembourg before leaving the following day, we drove towards Luxembourg city.
It’s a hilly conquest I must say. With little Imma on a stroller, it’s tremendously difficult for us to personally visit the must-see spots such as the historic Old Quarter, the Walls of Corniche and the Bock and the City Basements. We ended up overlooking from the city top instead.
During our short stroll around the city center nonetheless, we were able to visit Luxembourg’s Place Guillaume, a former site of a Franciscan convent that has since been converted into a pedestrian zone. Here you’d find the town hall, the famous Trémont’s lions, and the equestrian statue of William II, King of Holland and Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
Also nearby is the 16th-century House of Raville that showcases its beautiful façade, well-restored balcony, and spiral staircase. Another landmark close by is the Grand-Ducal Palace, a gorgeous Renaissance building dating from 1572.
WHAT’S YOUR STORY?
What do you think about visiting Luxembourg?