Historic City Center, Luxembourg
This is the heart of the city and my favorite area, have been coming here since 1995 every year and many times for days with the family.
place d'armes was created under Spanish occupation (the first from 1506-1684, followed by a second period of 1697-1713). The square is on a checkerboard pattern in the center of the city, and the heart of the old city under every occupation from France, Prussia, Austria, and Spain.
It is adjacent to the centre Aldringen (nodal point for transit, place Émile Hamilius) and the place Guillaume II, the square of weapons and almost ' completely surrounded by restaurants of any kind (ranging from fast food to the most exclusive cuisine).
This place, that takes its name from the old body guard that was there at that location since 1685, is also home to the city circle (cercle cite, see tip) , in which were held from 1952-1967 the first sessions of the special Council of Ministers of the ECSC (European coal and Steel Community).
The facade of this building is decorated with a scene showing the Countess Ermesinde, back in the year 1244 Letter of franchise to the citizens of the city of Luxembourg. From the first days of spring, the multiple terraces on place invite passers-by, to relax, listen to the weekends of summer concerts by bands from the four corners of the country and make it a place of relaxation very appreciated, both by tourists and the people of Luxembourg. All around extends a pedestrian area («Groussgaas»), where there is a number of shops.
The tower with the nickname "Hollow Tooth" (Huelen Zand / Dent Creuse) is probably the best known ruin of the Bock casemates sytem. Luxembourgs defense structures were destroyed as part of a peace agreement from 1867 on and all that remains above ground are the ruins of this tower. There is pretty nothing to see in the tower itself, but it makes a nice photo motive. The big sight are the casemates underneath it.
Many of Luxembourg's best sites are crammed into the streets that sit atop its highest sandstone cliffs in the centre of the city. Here among the tight, crowded streets that crisscross the flattened stone, you will find the fine Saint Michael's Church, the Grand Ducal Palace, as well as two of the country's greatest museums: the national History and Art Museum and the City Museum. In addition there is plenty of great shopping to be had, as you'd expect in the capital of the world's wealthiest country. You can also take breaks between spending money in one of the many cafes and restaurants that dot the small streets.
Although Luxembourg's Vielle Ville is not really so very old there are some interesting architectural twirls, turrets and twiddles. It's worth keeping an eye open as you wander round...make sure you look up.
I particularly liked the way some older houses had their date of construction in huge metal numbers fixed to the exterior.
Even if the building dates from the late 1800s, there are often interesting embellishments..pretty blue & white tiles high up near the roof, a beautiful oriel window.....
And, if you walk in the side-streets, just occasionally you can get a glimpse of how Medieval Luxembourg must have looked before the building of the 1800s.
The Rham Plateau is a high ground on the right bank of the river Alzette. It offers brilliant views of the Alzette valley and the Walls of Corniche.
At the northern end of the Rham Plateau the Tower of Jacob can be found. It is an old town gate whose history dates back to the 16th century.
Among other buildings the Rham Plateau is also home to a water tower from the middle of the 19th century.
The Rham Plateau is situated east of the city centre and it is part of the "Wenceslas Circular Walk".
One can enjoy a very nice day just strolling about the old city center of Luxembourg. There are excellent views of the city's upper and lower parts, fine architecture, and plenty of shops and cafes. You don't really need to be going anywhere in particular.
Dent Creuse or "Hollow Tooth" is the only remain of an old castle which was once the cradle of the city of Luxembourg. The castle and its fortifications were built in 965 by Count Siegfried de Lorraine.
From here you can enjoy panoramic views of the Rham Plateau, the Kirchberg Plateau and the lower town with its districts of Grund and Clausen.
The ruin of Dent Creuse is located on the rock Bock, which can be found on the way from the city centre to the district of Clausen.
The Bock Casemates are a network of underground fortifications, which were built in the middle of the 17th century. The original tunnels were about 23 km long and could shelter thousands of soldiers and their horses.
The Bock Casemates and fortifications are listed as UNESCO World Heritage site and also gave Luxembourg its nickname "Gibraltar of the North".
The Bock Casmates are situated in the Bock which is a rock inbetween the districts of Grund and Clausen.
The large leafy square in the city center is the prime place for relaxation and good food as virtually every building here appears to be a restaurant. The locals seem to particularly like Italian restaurants.
Luxembourg once had some of the most awesome fortifications in the world, and tearing them down was the condition the Great Powers of the XIX century gave to Luxembourg for recognizing its independence. (They were afraid they could fall into the hands of their adversaries.)
Citizens gladly obliged, but the casemates and some remnants remain to this day and can be visited.
Luxembourg's wealth comes in large part from the many banks headquartered here. It is basically a mini-Switzerland. Area South of the city center in particular is full of banks. The gracious XIX century building of the Banque et Caisse d'Epargne de l'Etat hosts a bank museum in addition to beautifying the city's skyline.
The Fortress Luxembourg was at one time known as the "Gibraltar of the North." It had a triple wall with 23 kilometers of interconnecting tunnels (or casemates). Today, not much of this fortress remains, except around the central city. Here you will clearly find the strong walls built on steep cliffs above the Alzette River.
Do you believe tourists would behave differently while visiting a hectic city and a quieter one ? I do.
This is what I noticed while taking pictures of Palais Grand Ducal and it made sense.
With my parents, we were looking at the facade, moving around, still impressed and a little amazed how centrally located this Palais was, when I noticed there were tourists trying to adjust the lenses to catch te best view on the building. I hadn't noticed them immediately. It was only when I tried to adjust my own lenses and that I saw them in my visual field that I noticed I was not the only one taking pictures. They were Japanese and probably German.
I think I haven't noticed them as I easily spotted the noisy tourists on Place de la Bastille in Paris because the Palais area was quiet, no cars running neither horning. So, quite naturally, one tends to respect this quietness.
It changed me a lot from the hectic, laughing, noisy crowds on Place de la Bastille. I had to elbow my way there.
The Place d'Armes is known by the locals as the sitting room of Luxembourg.
Its a lovely square in the old town with a variety of restaurants and pubs, with seating outside, making for a pleasant dining experience especially on nice summer evenings.
Place d'Armes is located right by the tourist office, so it will be quite easy to find.
We had a few drinks on the square and it was very very relaxing, its perfect for those who like people watching, all that creating a very nice atmosphere.
Just to the southeast of the Place d'Armes, is the much larger place Guillaume II. The center of the square is dominated by a wide open space except for the equestrian statue of William II. You'll also find some interesting architecture here as well as easy access to the Cathedrale Notre Dame. Toward the southwest corner of the square, you'll find the Hotel de Ville.
I just wish the central space of the square had more benches or trees. It's almost too exansive and needs something to fill it up.