Travel Report: Luxembourg City.
February 2008. Many moons ago I lived in Brussels, where I worked as a freelance English teacher at various EU institutions. My then fiancé used to make the odd trip to Luxembourg City for business, so one crisp Friday morning I cleared my teaching schedule and jumped in the car with her. The whole thing was spontaneous, I had no idea what there was to do and I didn’t really care. I was simply excited to cross another country off the list for what would be the briefest city trip of my 20+ years of global travel. Arriving in the city centre, she scurried away to a client meeting and I set off on a three hour walk around the city. How much ground could I cover in three hours?
February 2008. My overall feeling of Luxembourg was of a charming little place where a sense of uneventful prettiness prevailed. It felt more like a low-key town than a world capital, and indeed the closest I came to bustling was Luxembourg City Flower Market on Place Guillaume II. This is where Luxembourgers came to shop for flowers and boy oh boy they certainly do seem to love their flowers here. Cafes and restaurants are brimming with them, while private residences seem to be on a quest to outdo each other, from rose-laden balconies and tulip-flavoured windowsills, to the city’s immaculate parks and squares. There were also an insane number of florists around town. Luxembourg Flower Market is held every Wednesday and Saturday from 07:30-13:30.
February 2008. There are a number of fine churches scattered around Luxembourg’s compact city centre. Anyone familiar with Leighton Travels will know I do love a church visit and have written up dozens of reports from the world’s churches, cathedrals, basilicas and chapels. But I was on a tight schedule that day, so only managed to grab a passing exterior shot of Notre Dame Cathedral, a gothic style Roman Catholic Church built in 1613. Seems like I missed a trick not going inside, as the interior looks stunning and there’s a fascinating crypt where some of Luxembourg’s princes and duchesses were laid to rest. For a deeper insight, head to its Wikipedia page.
February 2008. Much of my limited time in the city was spent exploring the impressive Fortress of Luxembourg, once one of the most powerful fortifications in Europe. Vast in scale and dramatic in location, the whole thing was built gradually over a staggering nine centuries! During that time, the fortress passed through the hands of Roman Emperors, the Hapsburgs, The French, a number of Spanish Kings and The Prussians.
February 2008. It was those troublesome Prussians who, in their infinite wisdom, began demolishing Luxembourg Fortress in 1867 following The Treaty of London’s declaration of Luxembourg as a neutral European state. The demolition was a painstaking and often chaotic process that took the better part of sixteen years, and luckily the project was not seen through to the bitter end. In 1994 the ruins here were given UNESCO heritage status and today, after much restoration work, a walk across these old city walls provides amazing views over the city and a pretty section of the Alzette River.
February 2008. It had been a quiet, relaxing day, so I was completely knocked for six by what happened as I made my way back into town to meet up with my girlfriend. “Rob!?!” “Leighton!?!?” I literally bumped right into a guy I used to work with back in my days teaching English in Qatar. It had been seven years and we hadn’t kept in touch, so we’d had no idea of each other’s whereabouts. It was an amazing end to the day, though the subsequent photo we took together sadly hasn’t survived the passing of the years. I have no idea what happened to it and I never saw Rob again.
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