Nestled in the heart of Europe, Luxembourg has prevented itself from being swallowed up and incorporated into other countries by using its location to become a center for European trade and international finance. Some of the world’s largest companies, like Amazon and Microsoft, have their European headquarters located there today, and every year thousands of people apply for a work visa in Luxembourg, as it is not just a great place to visit but also to live and work.
Luxembourg is an incredibly unique country that has just as much culture, cuisine, history and architecture on offer as any other European nation. Luxembourg’s building style is unique to the nation and includes picturesque palaces, cathedrals and bridges that have inspired countless works of art and literature. Here is a quick guide to some of Luxembourg’s historic attractions for you to visit on your next trip to one of Europe’s best kept secrets.
The Grand Ducal Palace, Luxembourg City
The site of Luxembourg’s Palace was first used as Luxembourg’s city hall in 1572 and is now the residence of its head of state, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
Its role as a residence for a head of state makes it the Buckingham Palace of Luxembourg, with guards performing their duties outside. Though smaller than some of its European counterparts, the palace does not lack and grandeur, with soaring spires and long balconies.
The palace was occupied by the Nazis in World War Two and had to undergo significant repairs and refurbishment after the war in order to return it to its former glory.
Notre-Dame Cathedral, Luxembourg City
Though it doesn’t have the scale of its Parisian counterpart, the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Luxembourg City is just as beautiful and intricately designed.
The cathedral is a fantastic example of Gothic architecture, though features more reminiscent of the Renaissance have been incorporated over the centuries. The cathedral is well known for its three towers, the oldest of which was its original central spire, and two others were added at the east and west sides when the site was expanded just before the second World War.
The grounds of the cathedral incorporate a memorial to the Luxembourg Resistance of World War Two who were instrumental to the overthrow of the Nazi forces and were present with the Allies at the D-Day landings.
Neumunster Abbey, Grund District
Neumunster Abbey is one of Luxembourg’s oldest sites, and was originally a Benedictine monastery until that was destroyed in 1542. The monks then built a new abbey, or Neumunster, in 1606.
The Abbey’s buildings and central courtyard are now a cultural center and meeting place that was opened to the public after extensive refurbishment in 2004. Neumunster Abbey has a long and varied history, being used as a police station and prison after the French Revolution, and as an army barracks for Prussian forces after the defeat of Napoleon in 1815.
The site was again used as a prison by the Nazis during Luxembourg’s occupation, and many of Luxembourg’s cultural and political figures were imprisoned there until the liberation in 1945.
Vianden Castle, Vianden
One of Europe’s most picturesque castles, Vianden Castle has inspired countless sketches and paintings, and the site has origins that stretch back to the Roman Empire.
The Castle of Vianden sits on an impressive rocky outcrop to dominate the town of Vianden, and gives it excellent views of the River Our. In the 10th Century, it was the site of a Roman Castellum, and the original castle was built upon this in the Romanesque style until it received more Gothic additions in the 14th Century. The castle continued to receive extensions and refurbishment through the Renaissance period, but in the years and decades that followed was allowed to fall into ruin.
After extensive rebuilding work, the castle was reconstructed and restored to reflect its original Gothic appearance, while also rebuilding elements of the mansion that was added in the Renaissance. It is now open to the public and one of Luxembourg’s most popular tourist attractions.
Luxembourg is a country filled with a unique history along with architecture and design that isn’t found anywhere in the world. Make sure it is on your list of great European vacation destinations.