Cows and banks
My first visit of Luxemburg city was moons and moons ago. I did it by car. No wonder I haven't found this town impressive at all. Very probably I haven't seen anything. Anyway, not the Palais Grand Ducal.
This time, I did it on foot and enjoyed the visit, soaking up the nevertheless cold ambience of Luxembourg city.
Some hours on the train from Brussels, going through the green Southern areas of Belgium. Then stepping down at Gare Centrale de Luxembourg. From there, I browsed the outlets along Avenue de la gare. Had some warm beverages in a salon de thé. The fruit pies and the viennoiseries lured me but I resisted. My hot chocolate was fine. I was looking forward to it because it was cold. Then only, I headed to the city center for a more enjoyable experience. Back to 1999, when I asked a Luxemburger University friend of mine how came there were (are) so many Luxemburger students in Belgian B-schools and Universities, she told me that it was because they didn't have any University there. So students who wanted to attend University and B-schools had to "export" themselves in neighbouring countries as Belgium, Germany and France.
Seeing how astonishing her response was, she added another explanation: "It's because we only have cows and banks"... Hilarious precision...
Now, whenever one talks about Lux, this answer uses to come to my mind.
Walking in Luxemburg city, I actually saw banks... lots of them. And, coming from Brussels by train, I saw cows :-) but not that many. Well, maybe I had to roam the rural villages...
Have a beer or glass of wine...
Have a beer or glass of wine on the Place d'Armes. It is an integral part of the pedestrian zone, surrounded by lots of street cafés, it has become the place where the young and the old, the locals and the visitors meet. Place d'Armes, also named 'Parlour of the City', was aligned by Sebastian van Noyen from Utrecht and completed by Governor Jean Charles de Landas in 1671. The French troops of Louis XIV paved the square, planted lime-trees and used it for parades.
During my visit an Orchestra performed and there was a flee market being held. Great fun and a good place to people watch. Everyone was in great spirits and very friendly.
The picture here is a friend of mine enjoying a beer made in Luxembourg. The feeling that I was observing history first hand. The city has maintained its old world feel while remaining relevant in todays world.
Between the cross roads
The location of Luxembourg at the crossroads of the Latin and Germanic worlds has meant that governments from the Upper Middle Age have considered bilingualism in German and French to be a great benefit. This decision highlights the spirit of openness of the Luxembourg people. In the 19th century, faced with the annexionist attitude of its neighbouring countries, Luxembourg again developed a language of demarcation and the identification of its population with the land. This development was at its peak during the Nazi occupation when Luxembourg became the expression of opposition to this totalitarian regime. In 1984, the government approved the new linguistic regime – trilingualism – which was already a part of everyday life (Luxembourgish, French, German). This spirit of tolerance enabled Luxembourg to become a country with a high level of immigration, with close to 40% of residents being foreign and coming from some 150 different countries!
The Dutch link
Luxembourg was a fortress city, captured in 1443 by the Dukes of Burgundy. Then in 1839 the Grand Duchy was born, thanks to William II, King of Holland and Grand Duke of Luxembourg. Since then, the Grand Duke has always officially resided in the city of Luxembourg. Hence also that the national flag is almost identical to the Dutch flag, save the shade of blue which is lighter.
As a bell ringer I am particularly interested in the church bells. At one time one of the 3 towers of the Notre Dame Cathedral had burned down. The bells had melted and produced no sound. One of the bells was put beside the church to remember that.