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Luxembourg Introduction Walk (Self Guided), Luxembourg

Luxembourg City, the capital of the eponymous tiny European nation wedged between Belgium, France and Germany, is famed for its fortified medieval old town perched atop high cliffs. The extensive network of tunnels, Bock Casemates, leads to a dungeon, prison and the Archaeological Crypt, which is said to be the birthplace of Luxembourg. Meandering along the ramparts above, the Chemin de la Corniche promenade provides dramatic viewpoint. Explore these and other attractions of Luxembourg on this orientation walk and enjoy your time in the city.
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Luxembourg Introduction Walk Map

Guide Name: Luxembourg Introduction Walk
Guide Location: Luxembourg » Luxembourg (See other walking tours in Luxembourg)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 15
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Author: alexei
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Place Guillaume II
  • Luxembourg City Hall
  • Cercle Municipal
  • Dicks-Lentz monument
  • Grand Rue
  • Ville Haute (Old Town)
  • Gëlle Fra (Monument of Remembrance)
  • Notre-Dame Cathedral
  • Grand Ducal Palace
  • National Museum of History and Art
  • St. Michael's Church
  • The Walls of the Corniche
  • Monument of the Millennium
  • Bock Casemates
  • Neumünster Abbey
Place Guillaume II

1) Place Guillaume II (must see)

Place Guillaume II is a town square, which lies to the west of Krautmaart and to the north of Boulevard Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the heart of Luxembourg's historic Ville Haute quarter. It is colloquially known as Knuedler, from the Luxembourgish language's word for 'knot', referring to the knot in the belt worn by Franciscan friars.

The western half of the square is dominated by Luxembourg City Hall in the southwest, whilst the equestrian statue to former Grand Duke William II, after whom the square is named, is the prominent feature of the eastern half. Much of the square is ringed with trees, narrowing the open area (particularly around the statue).

The square was originally the site of a Franciscan monastery, hence the colloquial name. However, in 1797, during the French Revolutionary Wars, the monastery was dispossessed by occupying French soldiers. In 1804, the visiting Napoleon presented Place Guillaume II to the city as a gift. In 1829, plans were put in place to build a new town hall on the square, based upon the plans of Belgian architect Justin Remont. That same year, the deconstruction of the former monastery was completed, the material from which was used in the new building.

Place Guillaume II is used as an open-air music venue, hosting the Rock um Knuedler rock concert each year since 1991. The Rock um Kneudler concerts are free to the public and have been watched by audiences of up to 10,000. Since 1995, the concerts have been headlined by international acts, with the South African Johnny Clegg and the Italian Gianna Nannini topping the bill for the 2007 concert.

Visit on any Wednesday or Saturday morning when the market is set up. Certainly, it is an attractive square on any day of the week but when the market stalls are there it is really enjoyable. There is also a pretty market in December with an open-air ice rink and traditional mulled wine.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Luxembourg City Hall

2) Luxembourg City Hall (must see)

Luxembourg City Hall is the centre of local government, in which capacity it also houses the private office of the Mayor of Luxembourg City. Due to its position in Luxembourg's capital, the building regularly plays host to foreign dignitaries. It is located on the southwestern part of Place Guillaume II (Knuedler), the main square in the centre of the city. The two-story building features neoclassical style.

Until 1795, the Place Guillaume II was home to a monastery of Franciscan monks. At the time, Luxembourg's town hall was housed in the current Grand Ducal Palace, located just to the east of Place Guillaume II, on Krautmaart. The French invasion during the French Revolutionary War heralded the seizure of the monastery, and the beginning of the usage of the Grand Ducal Palace for central government purposes. As a result, for three decades, the municipal headquarters were moved around the city, without adequate accommodation.

Ever since Napoleon had given the site of the monastery to the city, plans had been underway to build a purpose-designed city hall, which finally came to fruition in 1828, when a design by Liège-based Justin Remont was given the go-ahead. The following year, the old monastery, which had fallen into disrepair, was deconstructed, with much of its material going into building the new city hall, the construction of which began in 1830. It continued through the Belgian Revolution, with Luxembourg City (protected by its German garrison) remaining the only part of the Grand Duchy outside the control of the rebel forces.

The building was completed in 1838 and first used as the seat of the city council, chaired by Mayor François Scheffer, on 22 October 1838. Due to the ongoing Belgian Revolution, the King-Grand Duke could not attend the City Hall opening ceremony. Consequently, the official unveiling had to wait until 15 July 1844, when William II also unveiled the equestrian statue to himself on the same Place Guillaume II (which is named in his honour). In 1848, the City Hall hosted the Constituent Assembly (from 29 April onwards), which wrote the new national constitution.

The building went without major changes until 1938, with the addition of two sculptures of lions, which flank the entrance, designed by Luxembourger Auguste Trémont. During the German occupation of the Second World War, the German occupiers converted the basement from market halls into offices, greatly increasing the amount of office space in the building. After the war, the building played host to the first meeting of the High Commission of the European Coal and Steel Community, chaired by Jean Monnet on 8 August 1952.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8am-12pm / 1:30-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cercle Municipal

3) Cercle Municipal

The Cercle Municipal or Cercle-Cité is a building in Luxembourg City, in southern Luxembourg, It is located at the eastern end of the Place d'Armes, in the historic central Ville Hautequarter of the city. On a site where there had previously been a building intended as a Cercle littéraire but which finally housed a restaurant by the name of Beim Gréitchen, the city decided to construct a grand administrative building. The design competition launched in 1902 was won in 1904 by Pierre and Paul Funck, a father and son team. The administration started to move into the neo-baroque building in 1909 but the official inauguration was in 1910. On the front, above the balcony, is a frieze depicting the granting of the city charter to Luxembourg City in 1244. The building hosted the Court of Justice of the European Coal and Steel Community, which was established in Luxembourg in 1952, until 1969. It was used as the venue of public hearings of the court until a more permanent venue could be found, whilst other work was conducted at the Villa Vauban, in the Municipal Park. In 2006, comprehensive renovation and restoration work was carried out on the Cercle in order to transform it into a convention and exhibition centre. The work was completed in April 2011 providing not only enhancements to the Grande Salle and the Foyer but also to the cellar, which can now house exhibitions, and the former loft, now the fifth floor, where four rooms form a new conference centre. It took on the name Cercle-Cité after an adjacent building on the site of the former Ciné Cité was connected to the Cercle by means of a bridge over the Rue Genistre in order to expand the Cercle's facilities.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Dicks-Lentz monument

4) Dicks-Lentz monument

At the western end of the Place d'Armes on Square Jan Pallach, there is monument by Pierre Federspiel celebrating Luxembourg's two national poets Dicks (1823-1891) and Michel Lentz (1820-1893), who wrote the words of the national anthem. The lion at the top of the monument represents the Grand Duchy, while the blacksmith symbolizes the steel industry. The inscription on the pillar: “Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sin” (“We want to stay what we are”) is the motto of the Luxembourgers.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Grand Rue

5) Grand Rue

Grand Rue is a street in Ville Haute, the old town of Luxembourg. Just north of Place d' Armes, is home to many upscale fashion retailers. The pedestrianized old town is where the greatest concentration of (rather expensive) shops as well as bars and restaurants are to be found.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Ville Haute (Old Town)

6) Ville Haute (Old Town)

Ville Haute is a quarter in central Luxembourg City, in southern Luxembourg. Ville Haute ("High City"), the medieval town core, is the historical center of Luxembourg City and is involved in its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. It is home to prestigious places, buildings and monuments such as Place Guillaume II, Place d'Armes, Notre-Dame Cathedral and Grand Ducal Palace. The Gëlle Fra Monument of Remembrance war memorial is situated in Constitution Square. The pedestrianized old town is where the greatest concentration of (rather expensive) shops as well as bars and restaurants are to be found.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Gëlle Fra (Monument of Remembrance)

7) Gëlle Fra (Monument of Remembrance) (must see)

The Monument of Remembrance, usually known by the nickname of the Gëlle Fra (Luxembourgish for “Golden Lady”), is a war memorial dedicated to the thousands of Luxembourgers who volunteered for service in the armed forces of the Allied Powers during both World Wars and the Korean War.

The Gëlle Fra is situated in Constitution Square, in the Ville Haute quarter of central Luxembourg City. The centrepiece of the monument is a 21-metre-tall granite obelisk. Atop of the obelisk stands a gilded bronze statue representing Nike, goddess of victory, or "Queen of Freedom" (Friddenskinnigin in Luxembourgish), holding out a laurel wreath as if placing it upon the head of the nation. At the foot of the obelisk are two (ungilded) bronze figures, representing those Luxembourgish soldiers that volunteered to serve for France; one lies at the base of the statue, having died in service of his country, whilst the other sits, mourning his dead compatriot. The monument was opened in 1923.

During the First World War, Luxembourg pledged itself to neutrality but was occupied by Germany, which justified its actions by citing military necessity. However, most Luxembourgers did not believe Germany's good intentions, fearing that Germany would annex their country in the event of a German victory; these claims were substantiated by Bethmann Hollweg's 'Septemberprogramm'. Although Luxembourgers left under German occupation at home could do little to aid the Allies, those overseas, outside Germany's control, could volunteer to serve against Germany. In total, 3,700 Luxembourgian nationals served in the French army, of whom, 2,000 died. As Luxembourg's pre-war population was only 266,000, this death toll amounted to more than 1% of the entire national population, which is a relatively greater percentage than many combatant nations.

When Luxembourg was occupied by Nazi forces in World War II, the Germans dismantled the memorial on 21 October 1940. Several portions of the memorial were rescued, and after the war, the monument was partially restored. The Gëlle Fra herself, however, remained unaccounted for until January 1980 when she was found hidden beneath the main stand of the national football stadium. Later additions were made to honor Luxembourger forces who had served in World War II and the Korean War.

The monument was not fully reconstructed and restored to its original design until 1984 and then finally unveiled to the public in the presence of Grand Duke Jean on 23 June 1985, Luxembourg's national holiday.

Why You Should Visit:
You can see it from a distance but come near to experience its beauty.
The view of the city from the memorial area is even more fantastic.

The best views of Gëlle Fra are during the Christmas market as the Ferris wheel is put up in the parking lot surrounding the statue and you can have a very close look.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Notre-Dame Cathedral

8) Notre-Dame Cathedral (must see)

The Notre-Dame Cathedral is Luxembourg City's Roman Catholic Cathedral and the only cathedral in the whole of Luxembourg. Originally a Jesuit church, its cornerstone was laid in 1613; however, the structure was expanded and enlarged from 1935 to 1938.

The church is a noteworthy example of late gothic architecture; however, it also has many Renaissance elements and adornments. At the end of the 18th century, the church received the miraculous image of the Maria Consolatrix Afflictorum, the patron saint of both the city and the nation. Around 50 years later, the church was consecrated as the Church of Our Lady and in 1870, it was elevated by Pope Pius IX to the Cathedral of Notre-Dame.

At the cemetery of the cathedral is the National Monument to the Resistance and to the Deportation. The centerpiece of the monument is the famous bronze monument by the 20th-century Luxembourgish sculptor Lucien Wercollier called 'The Political Prisoner'.

Anyone considering the rooftop trip – make sure you really fit as it's a spiral staircase top to bottom with only a brief rest area in a gift shop. Fantastic view from the top, but definitely a trek! Don't forget to also visit the crypt which is decidedly cooler on hot days.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-12pm / 2-5:30pm
Free admission
Sight description based on wikipedia
Grand Ducal Palace

9) Grand Ducal Palace (must see)

The Grand Ducal Palace is the official residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and where he performs most of his duties as head of state of the Grand Duchy.

The building was first the city hall of Luxembourg from 1572 to 1795, the seat of the prefecture of the Département des Forêts in 1795, and then the headquarters of the Luxembourg Government in 1817. With the accession of the House of Nassau-Weilburg in 1890, the palace was reserved exclusively for the Grand Duke and his family.

Under the supervision of Charlotte, the palace was redecorated during the 1960s. It was thoroughly restored between 1991 and 1996. The interior of the Palace has been regularly renovated to match modern tastes and standards of comfort.

Why You Should Visit:
Aside from admiring the beautiful building and immaculate stonework, you can book a tour to visit inside when the Grand Duke isn't around (usually mid-summer).
Also on the outside, there are soldiers of the Luxembourg military doing their classical march up and down and, which is quite an attraction in itself.

Like at the Buckingham Palace, you can take pictures with the guard if you wish. There are a few coffee shops/restaurants right opposite, also.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-6pm (Oct-Mar); 9am-7pm (Apr-Sep); Sun: 10am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
National Museum of History and Art

10) National Museum of History and Art (must see)

The National Museum of History and Art, abbreviated to MNHA, is dedicated to displaying artworks and artefacts from all the epochs of the Luxembourgian history. The museum is situated in Fishmarket, the historic heart of the city, in the Ville Haute quarter.

The first proposal for such a museum was made during the French occupation of the Revolutionary Wars when Luxembourg was annexed into the département of Forêts. However, the museum was never opened, despite the expropriation of a number of artefacts from the church.

With the affirmation of Luxembourg's independence under the 1839 Treaty of London came a greater interest by native Luxembourgers in promoting the history of their country. In 1845, historians and archaeologists formed the 'Society for the Study and Preservation of Historic Monuments in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, regularly known as the 'Archaeological Society'. The society took over the responsibility of maintaining a collection of historic antiquities from Luxembourg City's Athenaeum.

In 1868, the Society received a boost from the establishment of the Royal-Grand Ducal Institute, amongst the responsibilities of which was the conservation of archaeological collections. The museum has been expanded lately with the addition of a new building designed by Christian Bauer et Associés and opened in 2002.

Why You Should Visit:
The way the museum is built and arranged offers a true cultural and historical experience, and the old walls of the city are very nicely integrated in the space.
You'll see a very interestingly designed building that takes you down 4 levels to prehistory and up another four to modern art - definitely worth exploring even if you're not into museums.
You can also go to the oldest church in Luxembourg (St. Michael's nearby) and the old Fishmarket in front of the museum.

You do need to leave big bags in a locker that costs €1 but you can take the camera around with you.
Make sure you pick up a highlights leaflet in the introductory gallery. There are gallery guides (available in English) on each floor, too.

Opening Hours:
Tue, Wed, Fri-Sun: 10am-6pm; Thu: 10am-9pm (5-8pm – free entry)
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. Michael's Church

11) St. Michael's Church (must see)

Saint Michael's Church is a Roman Catholic church located in the central Ville Haute quarter. The church is the oldest extant religious site in Luxembourg City. The first church was built on the spot in 987 as the castle chapel for the Count of Luxembourg. However, over the following centuries, the building was destroyed, rebuilt, and renovated several times. Its current appearance dates back to 1688, and unites Romanesque and Baroque architectural styles, pre-dating the national Moselle Baroque style. The building has been restored since then, preserving its original form; it has been renovated several times lately, in the 1960s, 1980s, and 2003-2004.

Why You Should Visit:
Probably the perfect gateway to the Chemin de la Corniche. You can visit the church, appreciate its history, its beautiful architecture and then head out for a stroll in the Corniche.

Do check whether there is a (free) organ recital there. They tend to have them on Saturday mornings at around 11am.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm, except during services; free admission
Sight description based on wikipedia
The Walls of the Corniche

12) The Walls of the Corniche

The Walls of the Corniche in Luxembourg City, often and deservedly so hailed as "the most beautiful balcony in Europe," is a spectacular pedestrian promenade set atop the winding city ramparts built in the 17th century. Rising high over the city that lies down below in the river valley, the rampart-top walk passes along Blvd Victor Thorn to the Triple Gate (Dräi Tier) tower, Gate of the Grund and Wenceslas Wall (Wenzelsmauer). Opening from the top lovely views reveal several aristocratic houses and historic buildings, including the ancient convent of the Dominicans and St. Michael's church (AD 987) and the Neumunster Abbey. If you are ever in town, this is definitely one of the places – if not THE place – not to be missed!
Monument of the Millennium

13) Monument of the Millennium

The Monument of the Millennium is an archaeological and reconstruction site in Luxembourg City. The site was designated in 1963, on the millennial anniversary of the foundation of Luxembourg City by Siegfried. The original plan, hatched by the communal and national governments, was to establish a lasting monument on the Bock, the promontory on which Siegfried's original Luxembourg Castle was built. However, during the construction, the foundations of the stronghold were uncovered, prompting the government to abandon its original plans, and restore the remains.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Bock Casemates

14) Bock Casemates (must see)

The Bock is a promontory in the north-eastern corner of Luxembourg City's old historic district. Offering a natural fortification, its rocky cliffs tower above the River Alzette which surrounds it on three sides. It was here since that Count Siegfried built his Castle of “Lucilinburhuc” in 963, providing a basis for the development of the town which became Luxembourg. Over the centuries, the Bock and the surrounding defences were reinforced, attacked and rebuilt time and time again as the armies of the Burgundians, Habsburgs, Spaniards, Prussians and French vied for victory over one of Europe's most strategic strongholds. Warring did not stop until the Treaty of London was signed in 1867, calling for the demolition of the fortifications. Ruins of the old castle and the vast underground system of passages and galleries, known as the casemates, continue to be a major tourist attraction.

The first tunnels for the underground defences below the old castle were dug out during the Spanish period in 1644, but it was from 1737 to 1746 that the Austrians completed the extraordinary complex of underground passages and galleries, known as the casemates. With a total length of 23 km (14 mi) and depths of up to 40 m (130 ft), they accommodated 50 canons and a garrison of 1,200 men. In addition, they had underground facilities for housing equipment and horses as well as workshops, kitchens, bakeries and slaughterhouses. When the surface fortifications were dismantled in 1875, most of the underground defences remained largely untouched, 17 km (11 mi) of passageways remaining. In 1994, the casemates were added to the list of UNESCO's world heritage sites, attracting some 100,000 visitors a year. In 1933, the Bock casemates were first opened to the public. During the Second World War, they were used as a bomb shelter able to accommodate up to 35,000 people. Renovation work and repairs were undertaken in 2008–2009, including the opening up of the mine galleries which contained explosives able to blow up part of the Bock in case of need.

Today the Bock casemates can be visited from March to October from the Rue Sigefroid. The stairs down from the entrance lead to the huge archaeological crypt where wall plates give an overview of the history of the fortifications. More stairs lead down through the dungeons of Siegfried's old castle to the casemates themselves, a series of long tunnels down into the rock parallel to the road above. There are a number of lateral passages as well as chambers and balconies with openings to the north and south. Once emplacements for canons, today they offer views of the Alzette valley below. The tour includes a visit to the living quarters of Marshal von Bender, the Habsburg officer who, at the age of 82, coordinated resistance to the French siege in 1794–95 which lasted almost eight months. The exit is via the Pont du château onto Rue Sosthène Weiss, once the castle moat.

Why You Should Visit:
You can see the city from some scenic angles and take some lovely photos; there are lots of little crevices that offer a cool perspective.
A guided tour will take you to the more remote parts of the tunnels, or you can take the time to explore on your own.
There are pamphlets in the ticket office in French, Italian, German and English – very useful for the walk!

Warnings of claustrophobia should be heeded. The main caverns are well-lit and wide but moving to different levels involves narrow, spiral, staircases (visitors up and down passing each other in intimate contact) or steep stairways.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-8:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Neumünster Abbey

15) Neumünster Abbey (must see)

Neumünster Abbey (Luxembourgish: Abtei Neimënster, French: Abbaye de Neumünster) is a public meeting place and cultural centre, located in the Grund district of Luxembourg City. Beautifully located by the Grund and the Alzette river, it offers great views of the Bock Casemates, the Citadel, and the upper town.

After the original Benedictine abbey on the Altmünster Plateau had been destroyed in 1542, the monks built a new abbey or "Neumünster" in 1606 in the Grund. This, in turn, was destroyed by fire in 1684 but was rebuilt on the same site in 1688 and extended in 1720. After the French Revolution, it served as a police station and prison before becoming a barracks for the Prussians after Napoleon's defeat in 1815. From 1867, it once again became a state prison. Since 1997, it has been the home of the European Institute of Cultural Routes. During World War II, the Nazis used the abbey to imprison political resisters to their occupation of Luxembourg. Among the most notable of those political prisoners was Luxembourg's best-known sculptor Lucien Wercollier.

Following extensive renovation works, Neumünster was opened to the public in May 2004 as a meeting place and a cultural centre. It hosts concerts, exhibitions, and seminars. The abbey is also now home to the Lucien Wercollier Cloister, where many works from the sculptor's private collection are permanently displayed.

Why You Should Visit:
The Neumünster has a varied and appealing cultural schedule and is a pretty and unique setting, quite magnificent for a concert.
You can also go and have a drink or a bite in their bistro or just wander along the river at the bottom for hours!

Guided tours with an experienced Neumünster tour guide are offered in English, French and Luxembourgish – check their website for details.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Luxembourg, Luxembourg

Create Your Own Walk in Luxembourg

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Souvenir Shopping Part 1

Souvenir Shopping Part 1

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Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles
Limpertsberg Quarter Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Souvenir Shopping Part 2

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It would be a pity to leave Luxembourg without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Luxembourg, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

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Travel Distance: 0.6 Km or 0.4 Miles
Museums Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles

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