From the World Heritage inscription for the City of Luxembourg: its Old Quarters and Fortifications:
The Old City of Luxembourg: its Old Quarters and Fortifications is located at the confluence of the Alzette and Pétrusse Rivers, on a very steep rocky outcrop which is somewhat of a natural fortification that only needed to be completed on the west side. Due to its exceptional strategic position, the City of Luxembourg was one of the largest fortresses of modern Europe which were constantly strengthened and reinforced as it passed successively into the hands of the great European powers.
Originally, the City of Luxembourg comprised only a small fort (the castle) built shortly after the middle of the 10th century on an almost inaccessible rock. In the 12th century, the settlement that developed near the castle was protected by a stone fortification wall, which was extended in the 14th and 15th centuries. In 1443, the city was taken by the troops of Burgundy. Through inheritance, it passed to the Habsburgs and became Spanish until 1684. During this period, the site was transformed into a veritable fortress. After the conquest by King Louis XIV, Vauban extended and reinforced the fortifications. In the 18th century, the Austrians continued his work and created the “Gibraltar of the North”. After the Congress of Vienna, the Prussians created new military structures until the dismantling was decided in 1867. Following the Treaty of London in 1867, the majority of the fortifications were demolished but many vestiges representative of all these eras remain, of which a number of gates, forts, bastions, redoubts, and casemates.
The city also retains the layout of its streets and many public buildings, an important testimony of its origins and its development since the 10th century. Inside and at the foot of the ramparts, quarters where people lived and engaged in trades or crafts developed. They also kept places of worship, such as the Church of St. Michel, now a veritable museum of sacred art, or the Church of St. Nicolas, subsequently transferred to the sanctuary of the Jesuits, the present cathedral. The ancient Abbey of Neumünster is a landmark in the borough of Grund. In the Upper Town, in the shadow of the walls, aristocratic families, and the major religious communities built their mansions called “shelters” to be close to the administrations and official institutions. The old quarters still bear the imprint of their former inhabitants and their activities.
While not the smallest country in the world, Luxembourg is still pretty small, and there isn’t a whole lot to see. A day trip to Luxembourg would probably be enough to see the City of Luxembourg: its Old Quarters and Fortifications. It is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and one of the most expensive places I have visited in my travels.
View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Luxembourg.
View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.