vendredi 27 février 2009

Discovering Luxembourg

I don’t know what I had in mind but Luxembourg wasn’t at all what I expected. I had expected the quiet well ordered streets but not the dramatic gorges that ringed the city. The view from the old part of the city is dramatic but it retains an almost storybook prettiness. Little wonder then that the city is a World Heritage listed site.
We started our little walk through the Place Guillaume which was quiet and practically deserted, the buildings standing in stately attention. Given that it was one of those freezing winter days it wasn’t surprising that it was deserted. We were told though that it becomes a completely different place once warmer weather sets in. Then the whole place is taken over by summer tables and people sunning themselves. We made our way towards the Moorish inspired Palace of the Grand Duchy. It turns out that the royal family uses this palace only for official functions. Their residence is now at the Chateau de Colmar Berg.
So far the walk was fine but it wasn’t till we made our way towards the Chemin de la Corniche that the view became magnificent. From our vantage point we could see the whole length of the 17th century ramparts of the old city up till the Bock, which is the cliff on which Count Sigefroi built his mighty fort. It was Sigefroi who built the castle among the rocks which laid the foundations of present day Luxembourg. The castle and much of the ramparts have been destroyed. But there is still the nearby entrance to the Bock Casemates. They are in fact a complex network of underground passages and rock galleries that were built by the Spaniards in 1744. Over the years, these galleries and passages housed everything from bakeries to garrisons of soldiers. Despite the weather, several people were busy going up and down the Casemates peering inside the small holes cut into the wall. It was wonderful to discover the city this way. To finish the walk magnificently, we made our way down the little park and leisurely followed the path that wended its way beside the river, enjoying the winter sun that glinted off the old ramparts.

In the foreground you can glimpse part of the old walls that used to ring the city...
A view of the ramparts from the park...
In the far distance you can see the modern buildings that house the European Union offices, but below such area, where you see the farms, lies the most expensive piece of real estate in Luxembourg..

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