Are you fed up with buzzling megolopolises? Do you want to go to a town that is way more quiet, but still has a charm of a capital and not of a provincial one? Why not visit one of the pocket size capitals? There are quite a few of them on the planet and I must admit discovering each new one is a big pleasure for us.
I’d like to show you some examples of pocket size capitals which we can certainly recommend. Each one is different and each one has its merits. Today – Luxembourg.
The capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is often overlooked in the grand European tours. And yet, the town has lots to offer. Some may even call it a paradise. It is one of the richest places on Earth and at the same time one of the most safest. Clean, green, picturesque and multi-national, it is a pleasant place to live or visit.
To make things more special, once you come here, it’s hard to notice the wealth at first site. Luxemburgians don’t like to show off with their wealth. But still, if you look closer, you’ll find an abnormal amount of Porsche’s, Lamborghinis and Ferraris parked on the streets – one of the cheapest fuel prices in Western Europe has a visual impact on the town.
A UNESCO Fortress
Another thing you’ll notice quite quickly is that it is a very vertical town. It is located in the heart of the Ardennes Mountains and it played a crucial role in the preservation of the Grand Duchy. The first fort was built by the Romans, but it was then rebuilt in the medieval period, forming one of the best fortresses in Europe of huge strategic value. Even the word Luxembourg comes from the word Letze which means fortifications. These fortifications have been included in the World Heritage UNESCO list. They are worth seeing for sure.
The Old Town charm
The Old Town is small and charming. Great to discover on foot. As for shopping, be aware that it is pretty expensive, apart from alcohol and tobacco which benefit from one of the lowest taxation in Europe.
The heart of the Old Town is the Royal Castle and the cathedral. The castle is unfortunately closed to public, as the Grand Duke lives there, but the cathedral is worth seeing.
You may also note that this is a great place for the elderly and they do enjoy the late years of their life here. Imagine being a rich pensioner who wants to enjoy life, can own a sports car and has lots of free time. That’s what you might see in Luxembourg quite often. Rich elderly people sipping their Mosel wine or local beer in an elegant cafe or listening to charming old style street music. The charm of the monde a l’ancienne.
But Luxembourg has other faces too. It is an important banking hub, generating quite huge wealth for the town. Poshy banks are quietly hidden among rows of elegant houses. Financial advice institutions are even more hidden.
EU quarter on a human scale
It is also home to many EU institutions. Unlike Brussels, Luxembourg decided to host them in a special district outside of the city center. To get there you have to pass through the impressive Grand Princess Charlotte bridge hanging over a steep valley below. The quarter is full of rather dull modern buildings, but it has been reshaped recently to add more life to it beyond the 9-5 life cycle. The impressive building of the Luxemburgian philharmony is just an example.
The Tower of Babel
Luxembourg is a real Tower of Babel. As it is sandwiched between France and Germany, both languages are spoken here with a clear domination of French. English is a common lingua franca and you should not have any problems in communicating in it. You may not know however, that the Luxemburgians have also their own language – Luxemburgish. It resembles German, but has a quite different pronounciation.
Would you go and visit?
If you love crazy nightlife, cheap shopping or seeing the most known places, then Luxembourg is not a place for you. If you however want to see a place your friends haven’t posted on Instagram, a place where you can enjoy and cherish time in a relaxed atmosphere, and at the same time see quite some impressive old buildings (especially fortifications) then Luxembourg should land on your bucket list. We’ve been there many times and can recommend it. Tell us whether you liked it as well in the comment section below!
BIBLIOGRAPHY & FURTHER READ
You can start your preparations with the official tourist site of the city of Luxembourg.