Luxembourg is one of those destinations in Europe that you hear about occasionally, but it’s probably somewhere that doesn’t feature particularly high on your ‘top places to visit’ list. Luxembourg is generally mentioned in the same breath as banking, finance, and tax minimisation schemes. However, there’s a lot more to Luxembourg than you might imagine, and it’s a destination that’s definitely worth exploring.
The history of Luxembourg
If you have any sort of interest in European history or military history, then Luxembourg is going to hold lots of appeal for you. Luxembourg came into existence because the large rock that it’s situated on is in an incredibly strategic area - the ideal spot for a highly defensible fort or castle.
Luxembourg has been controlled by different empires across the years, as the various powers in Europe waxed and waned. With the changing nature of warfare, most of Luxembourg’s fortifications were dismantled and destroyed, but you can still get a clear understanding of how the fortress was defended and protected.
The best starting point is the Musee d’Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg, which uses large wooden models to illustrate how the fortifications were constructed. The Musee 3 Eechelen also tells the story of Luxembourg through the ages. Perhaps the best experience is the Wenzel walk guided tour, which takes you through the casemates – a complex network of tunnels in the fortress walls – which were essential to the defence of the city.
The food of Luxembourg
Luxembourg is one of those cities where it’s great just to wander the old cobbled streets, discovering little cafes or restaurants tucked away in small squares or down alleyways. Start at the city’s main squares and you can find cakes from Oberweiss, lunch at Brasserie Pless, or feast on traditional Luxembourg dishes at Am Tiirmschen restaurant. Food and drink is celebrated in Luxembourg, making this city-state an ideal gastronomic mini-break destination.
The culture of Luxembourg
As well as its fascinating history, Luxembourg also holds its place within contemporary modern Europe. I particularly loved the MUDAM museum, with its impressive art collection and stunning architecture - a light filled space that perfectly showcases the art on display. The museum was designed by Ieoh Ming Pei – the architect who also created the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris.
It’s this blend of ancient and modern that makes Luxembourg really special. One of the most popular bars in the city is at the top of the Sofitel Luxembourg Le Grand Ducal which provides stunning views back across over the old fortress city – a fortress that has stood the test of time as the world continues to evolve around it.
Luxembourg is worth visiting at any time of year, but if you had to choose then summer is an ideal choice – the city comes alive with a series of outdoor festivals that transform the city’s two main squares – Place d’Armes; and Place Guillaume II – into performance spaces for jazz, blues, and rock concerts, as well as outdoor cinema, street arts, and markets.