The impressive building of the State Savings Bank (Banque et Caisse d'Epargne de l'Etat) was constructed at the beginning of the 20th century.
It used to be the headquarter of the bank and is nowadays home to the bank museum which even includes an exhibit about bank robbers.
The State Savings Bank is located at the Place de Metz near the southern end of the bridge Ponte Adolphe.
The casemates are underground fortifications that extend all over Luxembourg (City). They are a series of caves and tunnels carved out of the rock by the Spanish rulers in 1644. Over the centuries they were expanded and at one time stretched to 23 kilometres in their entirety. There are actually 17kms of the casemates still open. The Bock Casemates are the most publicly accessible and are right in the heart of the old town. The admission price is cheap and you can climb in and around a huge section of the casemates. They have housed everything from bakeries, kitchens, slaughterhouses, troop barracks over the years. During the 2 World Wars they served as a bomb shelter with a capacity of 35,000 people. I would recommend an electric torch and you can climb into smaller passages within the larger tunnels. A must see site with lots of tunnels opening out into panoramic viewing areas of the city. The casemates were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
The Petrusse Express is a pleasant 50 minute ride on a tram, designed to look like a train, that starts from the Place de la Constitution down through the Grund via the Petrusse and Alzette Valleys.
Look for the van in my picture to buy tickets, the cost is 8E for adults and includes commentary via headphones in multiple languages including English. The tour starts on the hour and 1/2 hour from 10am-6pm
The Grund was once a working class quarter. I'm not sure who lives there now, but it is a pleasant little area to visit in a picturesque setting along the river Alzette. You can get there by taking an elevator from the Old Town that is directly above the little bridge that spans the Alzette or by walking along the Montee de Clausen and walking through the neighboring district of Clausen. I took the scenic route enabling me to check out a bar in Clausen and to see the Mousel Brewery. I checked out the church of St. Jean Baptiste and strolled the streets of the Grund (it won't take long since it's a small area) before settling onto a stool in Scott's Pub for a couple local brews.
You'll find mostly attractive, tiny and ancient houses here, with a only a few in a sad state of disrepair. The views back up the hillside to the Old Town make for some good photo opportunities if you're here at the right time of day.
The one museum in Vielle Ville, Luxembourg City, is really rather swish. It gives a good overview of the city's development over the millennia, with its top two floors used for various temporary exhibitions. I discovered from one of the exhibitions that almost 48% of Luxembourg's residents are not Luxembourg-born....the exhibition suggested that this was because it is such a super place to live. Personally, I suspect it has far more to do with the many multi-national financial and EU institutions which have their bases in the city, drawing their employees form all over Europe and the rest of the world, but there we go...I may be wrong. :-)
The museum has been created from several old properties and one of its highlights is a slow-moving room-sized lift (it can hold up to 60 people) which takes you from the very base of the structure with the original walls carved out of the cliff-face up to the 5th floor, with excellent views over the Alzette valley on the way.
The two lowest floors map out the settlement and development of the city. It is all very modern in its presentation, which may well appeal to many visitors and certainly seems to be the way museums are moving forward. But I find it frustrating: there is much less to actually see when space is taken up with big models and interactive displays. If I visit a museum I want to see displays of artefacts from the past, not modern interpretations of how life once was.
But there we go. I suspect I am in the minority.
The museum also has a gift shop and a nice cafe/brasserie with a little courtyard garden...some superb views from there.
The museum is certainly very modern and very easy to navigate (signage is in English as well as French). Entrance fee is 5 euro (as of February 2013) , with free entrance on Thursdays from 1800-2000. It's open from 1000-1800 every day except Thursdays, when it opens for those extra hours.
Certainly worth an hour or so of your time, if you have it to spare...but not so good that it is an absolute 'must' for any visit.
Near the Cathedral and just below the Place de la Constitution, you'll find the city's old fortifications and their interior chambers built by the Spaniards known as the Casemates de la Petrusse. I didn't actually visit the interior. My guide book described the visit as "dark and dank" so I decided to skip it and just stroll around and enjoy the views. From the outside, you can still appreciate the size and apparent strength of the bastions. If you do decide to visit, you enter the casemates by taking the stairs down from Place de la Constitution.
Rue Plaetis is the road that runs just above the Alzette River Valley above the Grund and provides arguably the best views over the lower town. Check out the three pictures here for some examples of the views. Just above Rue Plaetis is Rue Sosthene Weis and above that is the pedestrianized chemin de la Corniche, both of which also provide excellent views.
This international company pioneered the concept of an open-top tour bus with on-going commentary in a myriad of languages with a ‘hop on – hop off’ 24-hour ticket. I have used them here, Stockholm and Rome. It’s an excellent way to get a good orientation to the city and help you decide which sights you would like to go back to and spend some more time exploring. They even provide raincoats during bad weather. Keep your receipt as it’s good for a full 24 hours. Their stops are well marked (bright green) across the city of Luxembourg and they arrive every 15-20 minutes.
A few details:
* Start Point is at the Place de la Constitution (or any other stop)
* Tour lasts 60 minutes
* Their season is 19 March - 2 November
* Pre-recorded tour is in English, German, French, Dutch, Spanish, Russian & Japanese.
The Luxembourg City Tourist Office offers a really impressive service. They have staff who walk around the city with loads of leaflets and maps looking for tourists to help. These nice folks even work on Sundays and are really friendly. If you see them and have a question – just ask. In fact their shirts and bags say “ASK ME!”
A really impressive service!
Apparently tours of the interior of the Palace of the Grand Dukes are very popular and it's wise to book a day in advance at the tourist office in the nearby Place d'Armes. Tours are only with a guide and are offered in English only during the high season for around 5 Euros per adult. I didn't visit the interior, but from what I've read it's very lavish and anything but understated. The palace originally was the town hall, but later was converted into the winter residence of the Luxembourg royals. Architecturally, I couldn't quite pin down the exact style, but it's an appealing enough building from the outside.
The Dent Creuse, or "hollow tooth," is significant because it is the only shred of the original castle that was built here in 963 by Count Siegfried of Lorraine. The count's construction marked the beginning of the city of Luxembourg and have long since disappeared except for this one last remnant. From the 17th century onward the old fortifications were incorporated into newer construction that is still visible today. You'll find the Hollow Tooth along the Montee de Clausen which connects the Old Town to the nearby suburb of Clausen.
In the mid 18th century, the Spaniards began to dig beneath the remains of Count Siegried's original castle, and over the years, they created a network of tunnels and chambers inside the hillside. In all, there were almost 20 kilometers of tunnels and rooms containing stables, kitchens, and everything else necessary to supply their garrison. You can visit a very small portion of the original tunnels for a modest charge between the hours of 10 am to 5 pm from March through October.
Years ago this was about the only pedestrian area in the centre of Luxembourg (City). Today it’s the centre of a large area of pedestrian only streets with absolutely loads of parking. It’s the vibrant heart of the city and features a stage for live music during summer months and is ringed by restaurants with outdoor dinning areas including the MacDonald’s. The square is overlooked by a large balcony on the side of an imperial looking building (closed for renovation). It was on this balcony in 1945 that the Royal Family appeared in front of the people to celebrate the end of World War II and liberation. It was originally built in the 17th century to serve as a parade ground for French Troops. There is a market on Sundays in warmer months featuring everything from antiques to over-priced junk.
During the warmer months this market opens at 8am. Its an interesting mix of quality antiques, over-priced antiques of dubious heritage and absolute rubbish that really should go straight into the local landfill. Its worth a stroll through, but there’s no need to be here right at 8am. There aren’t to many bargains to be had and I even found broken pots being sold for more than 15 Euros! There are some interesting children’s toys of differing eras. I found some interesting old photos and postcards of bygone years in Luxembourg’s history. There are quite a few glass display cases full of jewellery and other ornaments of all descriptions. A lot of items have a marked price on them. They will not negotiate, so don’t ask.
Dent Creuse means 'hollow tooth'...and you can see why this Medieval tower has gained its name.
It was once part of the original city fortifications, built in 963 on the orders of Count Siegfried of Lorraine. They were constructed on the Rocher du Bock ('the bock), a huge lump of sandstone standing just outside what is now Vielle Ville. The Bock has fantastic views over the surrounding countryside (now mostly city) and was clearly a superb defensive position.
Hardly any of these first fortifications survives, except Dent Creuse. For that reason alone it's pretty special, although I suspect it underwent some architectural changes before it was allowed to fall into ruins as the rest of those fortifications were cleared. The remaining window does not, imo, fit the earliest construction date.
Although you can go inside, it was closed when I visited (out of season) and I don't think there is a great deal to see anyway. But the views are superb...it's worth walking out to the tower just for that.
If you look carefully at the rock outcrop on the opposite side of the road you will see where the gate stood when those earliest fortifications existed, carved out of the rock.
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