Luxembourg really was a blur. Ten years ago I had come here, on a weekend trip with my fellow in-country studies students. It was the beginning of Spring in 2003, we braved the cold chill in the morning air and got on the train (in those days, we enjoyed both the student discount and the group discount) to explore this not so much of a city/country in the middle of Europe.
Oh but what a beautiful city it was (and still is). Having just landed from the not so ancient Australia, it was one of the first places I’ve seen since arriving in Germany for my studies and I was blown away. All these beautiful buildings and the stories that must be behind them; the cobbled stones, the magnificent churches and cathedrals and the beautifully restored hospitals and houses….
There was so much potential for me to be cultured back then, but all I could remember was being stuck in a dorm at the youth hostel, the four girls that made up our group, with 10 (12? 16? 25?? I lost count) cocky boys from a Dutch fraternity group, one of whom took great effort in trying to explain the concept of a fraternity group to me during the night: “you see, we are just a group of boys who… have a very special relationship with each other…”
I can assure you, nothing happened. At least, nothing happened on my part anyway, the bed on the top bunk did seem to sway faster and faster as the night deepened…
So. Fast forward ten years. Will and I decided to also have a weekend in Luxembourg City (because, it is the thing we do now. “Let’s go spend a weekend in Luxembourg/Paris/Berlin/<insert random European city here>” – it’s as easy as that – without the student discount now unfortunately).
And I finally got a proper look at her.
Luxembourg City is pretty. Very pretty. Even the husband was suitably impressed (after having being ‘churched-out’ through our travels in Europe).
Luxembourg, a city built on other people’s money. I am serious. Even one of the grandest building have never been a castle but a ‘Spuerkees’, a bank, with its round ‘ Rapunzel-Rapunzel-let-down-your-hair’ like tower shaping the Luxembourg skyline and the back drop to many tourist photographs (including our own, see below).
There’s history as well, plenty of it. The main attraction, the casemates inside the old fortresses not only provide excellent vantage points to view the city (upper and lower classes of it all), but it also opens windows into the various routes Luxembourg had to take to become what it is today.
But like everywhere else, Luxembourg is modernising. The Museum of Modern Art, opened in 2006 and built on the old foundations of Fort Thüngen in Park Dräi Eechelen is a fine example of the new emerging on top of the old. The European Quarter, of where this museum is situation, glances from the top of the hill down back to old Luxembourg, new political concept looking down like a protective hen to the warring past.
Yes, Luxembourg had been torn, conquered, traded and ‘married-off’ throughout history between the French, the Dutch, the Austrians, the Prussians and the Germans before it became the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Today, we are reminded of this through the country having three official languages (German, French and Luxembourgish), architecture with varied styles and foundations and on top of all, a country that is today, is one of the strong financial (and judicial) player in the European Union.
On top of it all, Luxembourg City is filled with friendly people and a lively vibe, and this time, they are all part of my very clear and refreshed memory.
I look forward to exploring the rest of the country at our return in the near future.