The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg may be one of the world's smallest countries, but it has one of the highest
standards of living and is a heavyweight centre for banking. Its capital Luxembourg City is centred
around the heavily fortified Bock rock formation, to which it partly owes its historical survival
sandwiched between the great European powers of
Luxembourg also plays an important role in Europe, it is a founding member of the EU
and hosts some of its major organisations.
I combined my trip to Luxembourg with my long weekend in
in autumn 2010, and spent one night
at the youth hostel in the shadow of the Bock. I found to my delight that my Eurostar ticket was valid
to any station in Belgium, so getting to Luxembourg involved buying an extra ticket for only one
stop from Arlon, the last Belgian station. I was very impressed with Luxembourg, it has a real "model
village" appeal and it's easy to walk the streets for a day and see the sights. I will definitely be back.
The Grund, the old part of Luxembourg sits at the base of the cliffs of the Bock, along the banks of
the Alzette River. Through the morning fog I could almost have believed I was looking at a model village.
Chemin de la Corniche overlooks the Grund, and is known as Europe's Most Beautiful Balcony. It certainly
is very pretty.
More of the Grund, as seen from the castle Lucilinburhuc on top of the Bock.
Autumn colours on the chocolate-box houses of the Grund.
The charming Rue Large runs down from the Chemin de la Corniche to the Alzette River.
From a café down at the banks of the Alzette River, there is a fine view back up the cliff to Luxembourg-ville.
The Bock itself is an excellent defensive position, made more so by the kilometres of tunnels which
have been carved from within it, known as the casemates. The fortifications stood at full strength
until the 1867 Treaty of
which ordered their partial demolition at the end of the Austro-Prussian war.
The well inside the casemates has since run dry. Don't worry, there's a barrier stopping me from falling
Luxembourg being a small country, it has a small palace, wherein resides the Grand Old Duke and Duchess.
Luxembourg is the world's only remaining Grand Duchy.
It was very peaceful to wander the quiet streets of Luxembourg City in the autumn sun.
Tuba playing fountain effigy on Luxembourg's Grand Rue.
The local brew of Luxembourg is Bofferding - as advertised by this pub - what else? Very refreshing.
Luxembourg used to have a very productive steel industry, but that has declined since the 1960s to be
replaced by banking and financial services. Nonetheless it retains its steel connections, with the
ArcelorMittal on Avenue de la Liberté.
The Pont Adolphe spans the canyon to the south of the city centre, and was the world's longest stone
arch bridge when it opened in 1903.
Luxembourgish and European Union flags with the Pont Adolphe in the background. It's clear here just
how slender the centre of the bridge is.
Another of Luxembourg's bridges traverses the Alzette canyon from the city centre to the modern district
of Kirchberg. The Grand Duchess Charlotte Bridge was completed in 1966.
The Philharmonie Luxembourg is the city's concert hall, opened in 2005 its daring design complements
the surrounding modern area of Kirchberg.
Also to be found in Kirchberg is the European Court of Justice, which reminds me strangely of a fancy
old cigarette holder.
I had a real treat when I stopped in at the Mudam, Luxembourg's modern art gallery. It was built as
part of the renovation of Fort Thungen, another of Luxembourg's impressive hillside fortifications.
Flowing fountain of ink by local artist Su-Mei Tse.
In a darkened part of the gallery it took me a while to realise the purpose behind these seemingly random
motorised spinning points of light. The true picture is only revealed with a long exposure shot,
this is the result of 15 seconds of open lens.
A reproduction of the infamous Arbeit Macht Frei signage which haunts the entrance to Auschwitz concentration
camp in Poland. The phrase means "work sets you free". I'm not sure what the point of this exhibit is, as there's
certainly nothing Mickey Mouse about it.
A view inside the main atrium of the Mudam. The gallery was designed by IM Pei, of
Bank of China
fame. He is also responsible for
Museum of Islamic Art.
Spuerkeess or the Banque et Caisse d'Épargne de l'État (no prizes for guessing why I use the short title)
is another of Luxembourg's bank headquarters. At night there is a searchlight trained from one
part of the building to another, and an incoming aircraft has just switched on its landing lights.