Luxembourg City is the capital and largest city in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg with a population of about 76,000. It is one of the wealthiest cities in the world because it is a banking and administrative center and makes for a clean and safe living environment with virtually no crime and homelessness. Because of its small stature and its location between Romance Europe and German Europe the country is trilingiul, counting French, German, and Luxembourgish as official languages. In exploring the city’s center, it will only take you a couple of hours before you find yourself walking in circles. Don’t be surprised if you start running into fellow tourists or locals on a repeated basis while exploring Luxembourg City. The layout of the city can be mastered in a day, giving you more time to focus on what the city itself has to offer. Luxembourg-Ville as it is known in French, is split into two districts: the delightful old center, complete with fortress towers, turrets and winding, cobblestone streets; and the modern downtown area on the plâteau du Krichberg – the Luxembourg version of Wall Street.
The city’s history goes back to the year 963 AD, when Siegfried, Count of the Ardennes, had a castle named Lucilinburhuc built on a rock overlooking the River Alzette. It was the famous French fortress builder Vauban who, at the service of Louis XIV, later turned Luxembourg into one of his masterpieces, suitably known as the ‘Gibraltar of the North’. At its height, the fortress was girdled by three ring-walls studded with 24 forts and linked underground by a 23km- (15 mile-) network of underground tunnels. It survived until 1867, when it was dismantled according to the provisions of the Treaty of London. Ruins of the old fortresses are still standing on the outskirts of the city surrounding a deep valley filled with trees, houses and a small stream running through it. In 1994, the entire old part of Luxembourg-Ville was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Within the city itself are several places of note that should be visited while in Luxembourg. The Cathedral of Notre Dame’s spectacular late Gothic style architecture, the Grand Ducal Palace, where visitors can catch the changing of the guard each day, and a World War II American Cemetery and Memorial are just a few of the high spots you’ll want to hit up.
The Luxembourg City Tourist Office (whose main office is on the Place d’Armes) can provide details and maps for numerous walks taking visitors past the city’s medieval remains and historic sites.
The underground tunnels, known as casemates, can also be visited. A special open-air tourist train called the ‘Petrusse Express’ offers frequent guided tours through the Petrusse Valley (from which many of the remaining fortifications can easily be viewed), giving visitors an insight into life in the former fortress, with commentaries in several languages. The train departs from underneath one of the arches of the Pont Adolphe viaduct.
The food in Luxembourg City is pretty eclectic. If you’re looking to have a nice sit-down meal or even just a quick snack, the Place d’Armes is the place to go. Located centrally, this pedestrian square has everything from fast food to high-end eateries. Try L’Entracte for a nice evening out. Dinner for two and a bottle of wine will run you about $75 — quite reasonable considering Luxembourg City’s pricey reputation.
Luxembourg Youth Hostel
If you’re looking for budget travel, the Luxembourg Youth Hostels are your best bet. Not what you’d think a hostel would be, the Luxembourg City Hostel located just outside the city in the Pfaffenthal Quarter, is more a hotel than a hostel. With a restaurant, bar and tight security, not to mention its cleanliness, the place is a steal at $45 a night.
Check it out