Luxembourg Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Luxembourg

The capital city of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is known as Luxembourg City. The Romans had built small forts here that guarded two roads that passed through. But it was Count Seigfried in 963 who began the town by building a castle on the Bock promontory. A small church followed on the site of present day St. Michael’s Church. Soon a community sprang up along the Roman road.

Bock Rock provided a natural spot to settle, as the elevated ground is easily defensible and surrounded on three sides by the Alzette River. Over the centuries, fortifications sprang up along the rock. As the city grew, more walls were added.

The city walls and fortifications were never breached, even though the city changed hands several times. Many of the fortifications were destroyed in the 1800s, but there are many remains to be visited. The Bock Casements and Chemin de la Corniche shouldn’t be missed, if not for the history than simply for the gorgeous views of town.

Today, Luxembourg City is one of the de facto capitals of the European Union and is filled with history. It is an easy-to-walk town, with shops and pedestrian-only streets centrally located around the Place d’Armes and Grand Rue. The Grand Ducal Palace, St. Michaels Church, and Notre Dame Cathedral are all near the city center in Ville-Haute.

There’s a lot to see and do in this flavorful European city, from fine dining, arts, and culture to historic sightseeing and relaxing in the many parks. Come on a self-guided walking tour of this beautiful capital city, and learn more about its people, places, and history.
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Luxembourg Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Luxembourg Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Luxembourg » Luxembourg (See other walking tours in Luxembourg)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Author: alexei
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Place d'Armes
  • Grand Rue
  • Gëlle Fra (Monument of Remembrance)
  • Notre-Dame Cathedral
  • Grand Ducal Palace
  • National Museum of History and Art
  • St. Michael's Church
  • Chemin de la Corniche (Walls of the Corniche)
  • Bock Casemates
  • Neumünster Abbey
1
Place d'Armes

1) Place d'Armes

The original town square of the old town is still the heart of the community. Here, you'll find locals and visitors out and about, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine during the warm summer months. Many restaurants and cafés have outdoor patios, and this whole part of town is a pedestrian-only zone. You'll often find live music or open-air markets going on.

On the square's eastern side is the Cercle, which was initially designed as an administrative building. It was the site of the European Court of Justice but is now a venue for cultural events. Outside of it, you will find a sculpture of Countess Ermisinde with the 1244 Charter of Emancipation that guaranteed citizen's rights.

On the opposite end, there are monuments dedicated to two of Luxembourg's poets, Dicks and Michel Lentz. The lion on the monument represents the Grand Duchy, and the national motto is inscribed on the pillar. It translates, "We want to stay what we are."

The square gets its name from its historical purpose of being a gathering spot and parade ground for troops. The spot was laid out after a massive fire destroyed much of Ville-Haute in 1554. Dutch military engineer Sebastian van Noyen created the first version of the square called New Market.

In 1671, Spanish engineer Jean Charles de Landas used the area as a parade spot for the garrison. Flagstones and lime trees were added under Louis XIV.
2
Grand Rue

2) Grand Rue

The east to west street located just north of the Place d'Armes is known as Grand Rue. As the central square, the street is for pedestrians only. Many shops and boutiques lie along this stretch of road—indeed, it is essentially an outdoor shopping complex. Everything from famous international brands to unique local artisan shops can be found here.

The shops are built on the ground floors of the buildings of this historic area of town. Many of the buildings above the shops are residential, but the entire area is a concentrated commercial zone with administrative offices, political institutions, shops, and banks. At the west end of the street, you'll find the Royal-Hamilius, a large residential and shopping mall development completed in 2019.

The east end of the street ends just a block north of the Grand Ducal Palace on Rue du Marché aux Herbes. If you continue east on Grand Rue, it will turn into Rue Sigefroi. You will arrive at the Bock promontory, where the casements, Archaeological Crypt, Chemin de la Corniche, and St. Michaels Church are located.

While Grand Rue is a great place to start, the entire center of the city, known as Ville-Haute, is a walking and shopping district. The streets and boulevards connecting Grand Rue with the rest of the town are also lined with dozens of shops and restaurants. Visit the information kiosk in the Place d'Armes for maps and directions.
3
Gëlle Fra (Monument of Remembrance)

3) Gëlle Fra (Monument of Remembrance)

Luxembourgish for "Golden Lady," the Gëlle Fra is a monument located in Constitution Square. The square itself was created on an ancient Bock bastion overlooking the Pétrusse River and park in the valley below. The memorial is to the thousands of Luxembourgers who volunteered for service during the World Wars. It was built in 1923.

The centerpiece of the monument is a 21-meter tall granite obelisk. A gilded bronze statue of Nike, the goddess of victory, stands atop an obelisk.

Germany occupied Luxembourg during the First World War, so there was little that the nation's people could do to help the Allied Powers. But over 3,700 Luxembourgers living outside of the country volunteered to fight in the French army; over 2,000 of them became casualties of the war. The monument was created to honor their courage and sacrifice.

The Nazis dismantled the monument during WWII, but various pieces were recovered and restored. The Gëlle Fra statue was missing until she turned up under the national football stadium's main stands in 1980. Recent additions to the memorial have honored those who fought in World War II and the Korean War.

Immediately west of Constitution Square is the Casemates de la Pétrusse. Both are situated above the Parcs de la Pétrusse and Garden Luxembourg. Walking trails and stairways connect to the valley below, with beautiful views of the Adolphe Bridge crossing over the Pétrusse River and park.

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.

Tip:
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.
4
Notre-Dame Cathedral

4) Notre-Dame Cathedral (must see)

Originally a Jesuit church, the structure of Notre-Dame was begun in 1613. Its Gothic architecture is unmistakable, but just beneath the surface lie many original Renaissance elements and adornments.

The Jesuits consecrated the church to the Immaculate Conception in 1621. Most of the appearance of the church at that time was thanks to German sculptor Daniel Muller. He made many decorations in alabaster.

The Jesuits left Luxembourg in 1773, and the church was gifted to the city. It became Notre-Dame in 1848, and in several years was refurbished in the Neo-Gothic style. When Luxembourg became a bishopric in 1870, the church became a cathedral.

The cathedral was enlarged in 1938. This major undertaking made the exterior in the style of a Gothic cathedral while integrating the surrounding buildings and the former Jesuit church.

The cathedral's crypt is the final resting place of the Grand Dukes and Grand Duchesses of Luxembourg.

Why You Should Visit

Visitors who are interested in art or Gothic architecture will love this stop. The stained glass windows are gorgeous, even in dim light.

Tip:
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
5
Grand Ducal Palace

5) Grand Ducal Palace (must see)

The Grand Duke and Duchess of Luxembourg's official residence, the Grand Ducal Palace, is built from the building that served as city hall from 1572 to 1795. After 1817, the palace housed the Governor, who represented the Dutch Grand Dukes.

Since 1890, the palace has been solely used for the Grand Duke and their families. It was renovated under Grand Duke Adolphe, who also had a large extension built to accommodate guests and family rooms. During the WWII German occupation, the Nazis used the palace as a tavern and concert hall. As a result, much of the art, jewels, and furniture were lost or ruined.

When Grand Duchess Charlotte returned in 1945, it was thoroughly restored and redecorated. Indeed, it has been redecorated many times over the years, with a significant renovation from 1991 to 1996.

Military soldiers perform guard duties at the palace. Foreign heads of state are entertained here, and it's the site of many state banquets and receptions. The Grand Duke delivers his Christmas Message every year from the Yellow Room, and the New Year's Reception is also held here for members of the government.

Why You Should Visit

The palace is a local landmark right in the heart of Ville-Haute. When visiting Luxembourg, you will inevitably stop and take a look from street level. Keep an eye out for the palace guards' ceremonies.

Tips:
The palace is open for guided tours only during July and August. Ask for information at the information center at the Place Guillaume II. Like at the Buckingham Palace, you can take pictures with the guard if you wish.

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

6) National Museum of History and Art

With the long and storied history that Luxembourg has, it's no wonder that its National Museum of History and Art would be a worthwhile visit. The museum covers all periods in the city's development, from Roman times to the present day. Except for some exhibitions, the museum is free.

The archeology section and exhibits are exemplary. The collection spans all the human activity in the Luxembourg territories from prehistory to the Middle Ages. Many artifacts come from the Bronze and Iron Ages of Roman times. One notable item is a Roman mural that was uncovered nearby, circa 240 AD.

In addition to fine arts, the museum also has an extensive collection of arts and crafts. These include Luxembourg-produced items like clocks, furniture, silverware, and ceramics. The collection is uniquely displayed in settings as they exist, with recreated rooms like luxurious Renaissance palaces to Art Deco rooms.

The museum is quite large, housed in a five-story building with an additional five floors below ground level. If you are pressed on time, it's worthwhile to sit and plan your visit. If you take your time, you can easily spend all day here.

Signs and text in the museum are sometimes in English and sometimes not. The best solution for English speakers is to pick up an audio guide.

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.

Tip:
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)
7
St. Michael's Church

7) St. Michael's Church

You'll find the small St. Michael's Church between the Casemates du Bock and old town Luxembourg. It gets fewer visitors than the more striking Notre-Dame Cathedral, but it's historically more significant to the area.

This Roman Catholic church in the heart of Luxembourg City stands on the oldest religious site in the area. The first church was built here in 987 as the chapel for Count Siegfried's fortified castle on the Bock promontory.

Over the centuries, the structure was destroyed and rebuilt many times. The current structure was built in 1688. The coat of arms bears the fleurs-de-lis, a homage to the royal patron Louis XIV who authorized the church to rebuild following its destruction in the siege of 1684.

Behind the church, you will find the Chemin de la Corniche, a walking path with amazing views of the Bock promontory and its fortifications, as well as the Alzette River valley below.

St. Michael’s is an active Catholic church. You will see a statue of archangel Michael outside, and inside the church is full of history and art. The Baroque altar and stained glass shouldn’t be missed. The church organ is wondrous and grand, and recitals occur often. It’s a small church that doesn’t require a lot of time to see but is still well worth the stop.

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.

Tip:
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
8
Chemin de la Corniche (Walls of the Corniche)

8) Chemin de la Corniche (Walls of the Corniche) (must see)

A corniche is a road or walkway built into the side of the mountain, with the terrain steeply rising on one side and falling away on the other. The Chemin de la Corniche is a walking path along the Bock's sides and offers stellar views of The Grund and the Alzette Valley.

The walk starts near St. Michael's Church and the Schlassbréck bridge, and then winds along the Bock promontory southward, ending near Rue Du St. Esprit and the National Archives building.

Until the 1870s, there were staircases at the steep parts. These were leveled off when the fortresses were dismantled.

The Chemin de la Corniche overlooks the Alzette River and the part of town known as the Grund. If you'd like to explore them further, there is a public elevator to take you down quickly. Directly across the river, you can see Neimënster Abbey. The Grund is also home to the Natural History Museum and many shops and restaurants situated along the Alzette.

Why You Should Visit

The Chemin de la Corniche was called "the most beautiful balcony in Europe" by Luxembourg writer Batty Weber. In a beautiful city, the Chemin de la Corniche provides one of the most scenic walks. There's nothing not to like about a stroll here, and you may find yourself returning several times during your visit.

Tips

Don't forget your camera. Visitors are often wowed by the view of the postcard-perfect village below. Arrive in the morning or afternoon for the best light in your photos.

Most people spend one or two hours strolling along the corniche.
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Bock Casemates

9) Bock Casemates (must see)

Luxembourg takes great pride in its title as the "Gibraltar of the North." This fearsome reputation comes from the heavily fortified city's past; it was taken by surprise once in 1443, and the only other time it was defeated was when it was surrendered to the French in 1795. Even then, the city walls were mostly unbreached.

Luxembourg's northeast corner is home to Bock rock, a cliff that towers above the River Alzette. The Romans started with a small fortification here, but it was Count Siegfried in 963 who built the first castle. The city gradually grew around it, and city walls were built that connected to the Bock.

During different periods of occupation, various expansions and upgrades were made by each subsequent occupier. The casements were constructed by the Spanish and the Austrians.

While Luxembourg had begun in the Middle Ages as a relatively open city, by the 16th and 17th centuries, the city had become more or less closed off from the surrounding areas. There were so many walls, guarded gates, and fortresses that the merchant city began to suffer.

Sadly, most of the city's walls and fortresses were torn down in 1867 as a condition of the Treaty of London. Many various pieces and sections of the walls, forts, and towers remain.

Why You Should Visit

The remains of the fortress and the city's old quarter have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994. The casements and other remains of the fortified city are one of Luxembourg's foremost attractions.

The Bock is the area that started Luxembourg; this is the defensive position that appealed greatly to Count Siegfried back in 963.

The casements were greatly enlarged during the period of the Austrians. Around 1744, the passages you see today were created. The central passage is 100 meters long and seven meters wide, with as many as 25 cannon slots branching off from either side. The area was large enough to be used as the barracks for several hundred soldiers.

Tips

Be sure also to check out Pont du Château, the two-story bridge that connects the Bock to the old town. It was built in 1735 by the Austrians and featured four different ways to cross between the cliffs.

The antechamber of the Bock casements is the archeological crypt.

The views from the Bock of the old city can't be beaten. Don't forget your camera!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-8:30pm
10
Neumünster Abbey

10) Neumünster Abbey (must see)

In the Grund district, in the southern part of Luxembourg City, is Neumünster Abbey. The building today houses a public meeting place and cultural center. It is the home of the European Institute of Cultural Routes and is also the site of many concerts, seminars, and exhibitions. Also onsite, the Lucien Wercollier Cloister houses many of the famous local sculptor's collection.

Neumünster Abbey was built in 1688 and expanded in 1720. It stands on the original Benedictine Altmünster Abbey site, which was destroyed by fire in 1542. The abbey consisted of a church and four wings surrounding an inner courtyard. After the French Revolution, authorities confiscated the church and altered the building into a military hospital.

The building was used as a police station, prison, troop barracks, and various points throughout its history. During WWII, the Nazis who occupied Luxembourg used the building to imprison resistors and political opponents.

The building has been the site of many notable events, including where Bulgaria and Romania signed their Treaty of Accession into the EU.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-6pm

Walking Tours in Luxembourg, Luxembourg

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Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.9 Km or 0.6 Miles
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Museums Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 Km or 0.9 Miles

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