The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg dates back more than a thousand years. In the 10th Century, an aspiring ruler named Sigefroid (Siegfried) built a citadel on the Rocher du Bock (Rock of Bock), which grew over the centuries to become one of the greatest fortresses in Europe. Sigefroid didn’t get to enjoy his new quarters very long–he died in 968, after a five-year reign–and over the centuries, a succession of Luxembourg sovereigns ruled the Grand Duchy: among them, Spain’s King Philip II and Empress Maria Theresa of Austria.
In modern times, Luxembourg suffered the ravages of two World Wars. The Germans occupied the country from 1914-1918, and Luxembourgers were drafted into the Third Reich’s army in World War II. Today, the National Museum of Military History, the National Museum of the Resistance, and the General Patton Memorial Museum recall the military events in Luxembourg’s turbulent history.
Many travelers who reached adulthood in the 1960s will remember Luxembourg as the terminus of discount flights on Icelandic Airlines (now Icelandair). Thousands of U.S. and Canadian students spent a night or two in Luxembourg’s youth hostels before heading for Amsterdam, Paris, and other hippie (or at least hipper) destinations. Today’s visitors are likely to be older and wealthier, and many are business travelers: the backpackers’ destination of the 1960s and ’70s has matured into a financial center with hundreds of banks and investment firms.
Sights and excursions
The capital, Luxembourg City, offers a wealth of sightseeing possibilities. The fortress and its associated sites are the most obvious, but you’ll also find interesting museums and plenty of opportunities for walking tours in and around the Old Town.
Getting to Luxembourg
Luxembourg is easy to reach by air, train, bus, or car. If you’re departing from Britain, read the transportation page at the Luxembourg Tourist office in London; otherwise, consult the Deutsche Bahn or SNCF rail timetable, which will give connections from most European cities. Air travelers should check timetables at Luxair and other airlines that serve Luxembourg.