Sunday, December 21, 2008


Luxembourg: A Sidewalk Café Delight

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a paradise for those that like to walk, sightsee, shop, and sit ever so often for coffee and a pastry.

While my wife visited the shops, I found myself across the main street that overlooked the most beautiful view of the area near downtown.

Fascinating walks through the city and countryside was an excellent way of discovering its flora and fauna and cultural heritage.

While the Luxembourg fortress was a true example of European military architecture, it has changed hands many times over its existence. Since 1994, the fortifications and the old city have been classed as a UNESCO world heritage site.

But the main attraction is an extraordinary network of underground galleries, the famous casemates, which were carved from the city’s rocks. These went on for about 23km.

The Grand-Duke’s residence, the Grand-Ducal palace, has an exceptionally beautiful facade in Flemish Renaissance style and a majestic interior and ceremonial rooms open to the public during the summer only.

The name of Luxembourg made its first appearance in history around the year 963 when Count Siegfried exchanged land for a small abandoned castle, known as "Lucilinburhuc", located on a precipice on the site of the present-day capital.

Between 963 and 1443, Luxembourg was an independent county, then a Duchy within the Germanic Empire. Luxembourg was so highly-prized during these years was due to the strategic position on the European chess-board, and due to its formidable fortress became known as the "Gibraltar of the North".

During our short time there we walked most of the main streets, all of which had flowers and plants beautifying the area. The shops had clothes and cultural goods of all types since the Duchy has a strong multi-cultural population of about a half million people.

The people were very friendly and many spoke English, especially in the main stores.

Like most of the European countries, most of the government building had their ceremonial dressed soldiers that guarded its entrance. I was not sure if he could talk to me, but I did get an occasional “Yes or no” to my questions.

Many of the smaller European countries had their independence challenged during the First and Second World Wars. The painful experiences of these two wars strengthened the solidarity between the Luxembourg citizens, and consolidated their national feeling.

Travel has made me appreciate our country and the democracy we have. I may get angry at us sometimes, but have seen how others have had stresses we have never had.

“Blessed be the LORD: for he hath showed me his marvelous kindness in a strong city.”-- Psalm 31:21

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