Grand Ducal Palace
One of Luxembourg City’s most famous landmarks is the Grand Ducal Palace. Dating from the 16th century, the palace’s ornate and beautiful facade has a Spanish-Moorish influence. This has made the Grand Ducal Palace one of the most photographed buildings in Luxembourg City.
Originally built as a town hall, architects Charles Arendt and Gédéon Bordiau are responsible behind the Grand Ducal Palace’s current transformation. Since the ascension of Grand Duke Adolphe in 1890, the palace has been the residence of the ruling monarchy.
During the months of July and September, as many as 10,000 people visit the Grand Ducal Palace in Luxembourg City. Two things to look out for are:
- Change of Guard Ceremony
- Guided Tours
The Neumünster Abbey has served many purposes throughout the history of Luxembourg City. During the French Revolution, the monks of the Benedictine order were expelled and seeking refuge, they built the original Neumünster Abbey on the Altmünster Plateau. When this place was destroyed, the monks built another Neumünster Abbey in the Grund in 1606. Misfortune struck again, this time in the form of fire, and the abbey had to be rebuilt in 1688.
After the French Revolution, the Neumünster Abbey served as a police station, a prison as well as the barracks for the Prussians. For most part of the 20th century, it served as a state penitentiary. During World War II, the Nazis imprisoned political dissenters here, most prominent of whom was Lucien Wercollier.
Today, the Neumünster Abbey is the hub of the Grund, a district once considered squalid, now transformed into one of Luxembourg City’s most vibrant areas, complete with restaurants and exclusive clubs.
Casemates du Bock
Luxembourg was known for its formidable fortifications, and is famously called “The Gibraltar of the North”. Dating back to 963, the fortifications served as a military stronghold for the Burgundians, Spaniards, Austrians, French and finally the Prussians. The most popular and well-preserved of these fortifications are the Casemates du Bock in Luxembourg City.
The cliff over the Alzette river valley served as the primary route into town as far back as the Celtic and Roman times. Initially a fortress (Bock) for Count Siegfried was built here in the 10th century. Eventually, the casemates were carved out by the Spaniards in the 18th century. The Casemates du Bock’s ingenious honeycomb military engineering meant that they have housed everything from garrisons, bakeries, slaughterhouses, to nearly 35,000 people during World War II.
As per the terms of the 1867 Treaty of London, the Bock was to be demolished to diffuse tensions between France and Germany. However, since the casemates could not be destroyed without taking down a part of Luxembourg City, 17 kilometers of subterranean tunnels were left intact.
Don’t leave Luxembourg City without seeing the Cathédrale Notre-Dame. Built in 1613 as a Jesuit church, it is the only cathedral in Luxembourg. A notable example of Late Gothic architecture, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame features many elements from the Renaissance architectural style.
The highlights of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame include:
- The image of Maria Consolatrix Afflictorum, the patron saint of Luxembourg City.
- The statue of the Consoler of the Afflicted.
- Beautiful bronze gates designed by Auguste Trémont
- The choir screen sculpted exquisitely in alabaster.
- The crypt contains the tombs of the grand-ducal dynasty, along with the 14th century King of Bohemia and Count of Luxembourg, John the Blind.
Chemin de la Corniche
No trip to Luxembourg City is complete without a walk down the Chemin de la Corniche. Running along the Alzette valley, this is known as “the most beautiful balcony in Europe”.
In the 17th century, the Spaniards and the French built these ramparts from the Bock. The steep staircases were levelled off and the walls pulled down, so as to offer wonderful panoramic views of the Alzette, the Grund and the Rham Plateau. And with the weather being this sunny and perfect, it was an absolutely gorgeous experience on the promenade.