Amidst such a vast green landscape, it is hard to believe that you are standing at the heart of a metropolis. But here in the Old Town of Luxembourg City – the capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, you will be able to enjoy nature at its finest.
With just over 2500 km², Luxembourg belongs to one of the world’s smallest countries. It is flanked by Belgium on the North and West, Germany on the East, and France on the South. Despite its pipsqueak size, Luxembourg is the second wealthiest nation in the world (after Qatar), and its capital – Luxembourg City – is the home of several corporations and international organizations, including the United Nations, UNESCO, and the European Council.
Despite its fame, Luxembourg City is not high on the list of European top attractions due to the lack of opulent palaces or gigantic monuments. Yet its fairy-tale historic center which nestles in Pétrusee Valley is definitely worth a visit. It resembles an oasis in the middle of a modern city.
The Old Quarter of Luxembourg City rolls on a very steep rocky outcrop at the confluence of the Alzette and Pétrusse Rivers (hence the name of this valley). Due to its location, it was only accessible from the west side thus making the fortification somewhat easy. It was one of Europe’s largest fortresses for centuries until its demolition in the 19th century. Fortunately, many of its gates, forts, bastions, and casemates still remain.
It’s hard to believe that you are standing at the heart of a metropolis.
1. The Grund
Although the fortress was dismantled, the old town is able to retain its layout of streets and buildings. Inside and at the foot of the ramparts – the Grund – is where people lived and engaged in businesses. In this area, you can certainly find Luxembourg’s national dish Judd mat Gaardebounen (smoked collar of pork with broad beans)in a restaurant along the Alzette. The ancient Abbey of Neumünster is the worship place and the landmark of this borough.
2. The Upper Town
The Upper Town was reserved for the aristocratic families and major religious communities where they built mansions and official institutions. Noteworthy buildings in this area are the Grand Ducal Palace and the Notre Dame Cathedral Luxembourg. The Upper Town also grants a sweeping view of the Grund and the beautiful Pétrusee Valley.
Tips for visiting Luxembourg
- Walking is the best way to explore Luxembourg’s Old Town as the streets in this area are relatively narrow, and sloping and car parks are rare. The best place to take good photos of the Old Town is along Chemin de la Corniche.
- The height from the Grund to the Upper Town is over 65 meters, so be prepared for a lot of steps. Lifts are also available at some positions.
- Another alternative is taking the bus. However, most buses only run along the Montée de Clausen (the rampart). A few runs to the Grund, but not so frequent. Since March 2020, using public transport in Luxembourg is free of charge. The scheme applies to both residents and tourists.