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The last remaining Grand Duchy

  • Published at 04:14 pm December 6th, 2018
wt_Dec 3, 2018
Photos: Courtesy


When talking about Europe travels, you won’t hear Luxembourg being mentioned much. When I heard that it was the last remaining Grand Duchy State in the world, that’s all I needed to want to visit there.


Luxembourg at a glance   

A grand duchy is a state or territory ruled by a grand duke or duchess. This is one of the few remaining monarchy states in the world. During the 19th century there were 14 grand duchies in Europe. At present Luxembourg is the only one left. After the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, the Congress of Vienna made Luxembourg into a Grand Duchy. The country’s full name is the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the name of the capital is also Luxembourg. The present Grand Duke is Crown Prince Henri who assumed the throne in October 2000.

Landlocked by Belgium, France and Germany, in terms of land area, it is the 7th smallest country in Europe and the 20th smallest in the world. It has a population of less than 100,000 people but feels much more like a city than a town. Beautifully spread out, it’s never too crowded, never too hectic and always scenic from every angle.

Back in time

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg may have just turned 200, but the history has roots stretching back to the 10th century. 

In 1715, France occupied the country and despite declaring its neutrality, Luxembourg was occupied by Germany during both World Wars.

The old city was declared as World Heritage since 1994. The old historic town of Luxembourg is an amazing place to wander around, and enjoy spectacular views of the old city with its stone bridges across the river and the former fortress of the old city of Luxembourg.

The medieval ramparts are the star of the show here; the various levels of the old part of the city make for a great few hours wandering around and enjoying the view.

There are 17km of underground tunnels cut out of the solid rock beneath Luxembourg City. The network of Bock and Pétrusse casemates were built as part of the city’s defenses. The earliest sections were built in 1644, enlarged 40 years later and then again in the 18th century – some parts are 40m deep. 

Right in the middle of the city stands a magnificent piece of architecture, the Palace Grand Ducal, home to the Royal Family. The baroque-inspired Notre Dame Cathedral has a magnificent main altar with a gilded statue of Mother Mary and is referred to as the “Crown of the Old Town”.

In Luxembourg you can find a great number of stunning castles and breathtaking nature around the Mosela River. The steep cliffs and ravines that snake through and around the city make it a very strategic position. The valleys are also one of the main reasons why it’s such a pleasure to visit Luxembourg. 

Local flavours

As far as food and drink go, there are lots of good options around the squares in the medieval part of the city.

Being landlocked between three mighty fine countries means the food offerings here are incredible. From Parisian-perfect pastries for breakfast right through to Michelin star restaurants, you are spoilt for choice.

The national dish of Luxembourg is smoked pork collar and broad beans which might not be to everyone’s taste but fear not, you have plenty of choices here. Local delicacies include potato pancakes (gromper keeschelche), plum tart (quetsche tort), and green bean soup with potatoes, bacon and onion (Bouneschlupp). 

The city is a healthy mix of cultures and a powerful economy gives it more heft than you might expect from a country. With its economic and cultural strength, this grand duchy served as a founder of the EU, and thus created a politically stronger Europe. 

Facts

•    Luxembourg is the second richest country in the world – ranked by its GDP(2016) 

•    It has the highest minimum wage in the EU – paying workers a minimum of EUR 1,923 per month.

•    According to a UN survey, Luxembourg is one of the safest countries in the world

•    It’s home to the restaurant Chiggeri with the world’s largest wine list where you can find 2200 different wines. 

•    Luxembourg’s motto is 'mir wëllebleiwewatmirsinn' which means ‘we want to remain what we are’. 

•    Just under half of the permanent residents in Luxembourg are foreign – according to the Duchy of Luxembourg’s Statistics Portal.

•    The most powerful person in the EU is Luxembourgish – Jean-Claude Junker holds the position of the President of the European Commission.

•    Luxembourgers are typically tri-lingual. The national language of Luxembourg is Luxembourgish, Children are taught Luxembourgish, French and German at primary and secondary school levels. 

•    The Schengen Agreements, which allow Europeans to travel freely across European borders, were signed in Luxembourg.  

•    The highest court in the EU “The Court of Justice" is located in Luxembourg.