Friday, we embarked on a day trip to Luxembourg City. This means we have now been to all the countries where German is a major national language. Germany, Austria, and Lichtenstein use German as their primary language. It is a co-official language in Belgium, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. Luxembourg’s official languages are French, German, and Luxembourgish. Additionally, our kids have a geography CD with songs about the countries of the world. The only one of the “Western Europe” countries we haven’t visited is Monaco. We will try to do that, as well.
The views in Luxembourg are magnificent. The hillside runs right through the city, so there are highs and lows throughout. We parked at the top of the hill before making our way down into the “old city” in the valley. The modern areas are on top of the hill.
I found the Casemates du Bock to be the most noteworthy thing. The casemates are underground tunnels – except the “ground” is the top of a hill. It is similar to a bunker, but with a better ability to defend the position. Work on the tunnels began in 1644. The casemates were then used to defend the city. In 1867, they were enlarged and could house 50 cannons and 1,200 soldiers. I imagine the cannon fire and volume of people talking in the stone tunnels led to severe hearing damage.
In the late 1700s, An 82-year-old, Habsburg Marshal von Bender lived in the casemates for 8 months. He led his Austrian troops to defend against the French attacks.
The well for the castle (which used to be above the casemates) is 47 meters deep. A mermaid named Melusina is rumored to visit there. Laine saw her, but the rest of us were less fortunate. “According to legend, Melusina was the wife of Sigfried, 1st count of Luxembourg, living in his castle on the rocky Bock promontory.” She told him that one night per week, she needed absolute privacy. Then one day, she caught him spying on her in the bathtub. He saw her fish’s tail. Melusina then vanished into the Alzette river.
Luxembourg’s architecture is less intricate than Belgium’s. Many of the buildings are similar in age, though. One of the many things I’ve relished living in Europe is the tunnels over walkways.
Luxembourg City offers an abundance of green space in the older areas of town. There’s a wonderful park along the canal and we stopped there for a rest.
An idea unique to Luxembourg is “My Urban Piano.” I saw 3 of them, though I didn’t understand the first one. It sits under a canopy in a small open grassy area above the casemates. Seeing the second allowed me to understand they the first one was there. The second one resides in an indoor courtyard. The third is near the Info desk in one of the town squares. There are 22 pianos in all.
Luxembourg has an unusual motto, which translates into English as “We will stay what we are.” The gist of this is “we’re happy this way. Leave us alone.” Historically, Belgium, France, and Germany have tried to control the country and Luxembourg would prefer they did not.
After an enjoyable day exploring a new country, we headed back to Belgium. As we left, we took one of the elevators up from the bottom of the valley to the top of the hill to save ourselves a bit of hiking. The kids thought this was a brilliant plan after a day of walking. And Laine got to push the button inside the elevator, so all ends well.