European leaders have nominated the new president of the European Commission: Jean-Claude Juncker. He was prime minister of Luxembourg from 1995 to 2013 and one of the architects of the euro. Due to his national popularity, he went on to become one of the world’s longest-serving democratically elected leaders. His country of origin, though small in size, has equal importance in the political arena. Together with Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Italy and West Germany; Luxembourg was a founding member of the community that later became the European Union. It is the second-smallest member state of the EU and the only Grand Duchy in the world.
Because of its strategic position, Luxembourg was often sought after. During its history, it passed from one great European power to another: the Holy Roman Emperors, House of Burgundy, the Habsburgs, French and Spanish kings; and the Prussians. Therefore, the defences of the city of Luxembourg were continuously improved and extended, making it one of Europe’s greatest fortified sites for several centuries.
The old city of Luxembourg is beautifully set across the gorge of the Alzette and Pétrusse rivers and, with its winding valleys, watercourses and bridges, still maintains its medieval charm. Since 1994, the old city of Luxembourg and its ancient quarters, which still bear the imprint of their former inhabitants and activities, are part of the UNESCO Cultural World Heritage. What is particularly fascinating is that the city retains the layout of its streets and many public buildings, which is an important testimony of its origins and development since the 10th century.
Though being a great destination for any history enthusiast, the city is also a very modern place, with high-tech buildings running alongside historic monuments. It is partly this diversity and contrast that attracts large numbers of foreign settlers. Luxembourg City is proud to be the home to 63% of non-Luxembourg residents and a melting pot of 170 nationalities. To celebrate the city’s multicultural and cosmopolitan identity, the capital invites musicians from all over the world to perform at the MeYouZik world music festival every summer.
For a more interactive encounter with the past, Vianden castle hosts an annual medieval festival. This year it takes place from 26 July until 3 August 2014. During these nine days of medieval festivities, the visitor can expect a diverse programme including: medieval tournament shows and plays; fire shows, ballade singers and minstrels; jugglers, birds of prey shows and a medieval market; with exhibitors of handicraft all part of the mix and will entertain the old and young alike.
Its glorious and turbulent past comes alive when visiting one of Luxembourg’s castles and fortifications, such as; Vianden, Beaufort, Bourscheid, Bourglinster or Clervaux. There are also numerous castle ruins, where the visitor can learn about the country’s myths and sagas. This can be combined with a hike through the idyllic valley of the river Eisch, the so-called ‘valley of the seven castles,’ which is a designated national footpath.
The castle (locally known as Château de Vianden) is a picturesque medieval castle, located in the north of Luxembourg. It was built between the 11th and 14th century and is one of the largest fortified castles west of the river Rhine. However, its history goes back even further, as it was built on the foundations of a Roman fort or ‘castellum’.
It was the seat of the influential counts of Vianden up until the beginning of the 15th century; and is a beautiful example of a feudal residence from the romanesque and gothic periods in Europe. Now in state ownership, the castle was restored to its former glory and has its place among the most significant historical monuments in Europe.
What does your fairy-tale holiday look like?