Luxembourg, at the crossroads of important transport routes, between the Mosel and the Maas rivers, has always been an important economic and strategic location. Despite the many changes in its political status, Luxembourg has maintained its identity and its independence. Today it is a major center of international financial activity, second only to London in Europe for the number of banks (220). Agriculture occupies a secondary place in the economy, cattle breeding predominates, viticulture and winemaking are developed. An important role in national economy belongs to tourism.
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The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is an independent state, one of the smallest countries in the world. Luxembourg is a constitutional monarchy, with Henri, the seventh Grand Duke of Luxembourg, as head of state since 2000.
The flag of Luxembourg, a rectangular cloth with an aspect ratio of 3:5, consisting of three equal horizontal stripes: the upper red, middle white and lower light blue, first appeared in 1845. The flag was officially approved by a law of June 23, 1972. The ebony lion in a silver field on the country’s coat of arms is an old symbol of the Counts of Limburg. The bifurcated tail of the lion appeared under Waleran III (1175-1226), who married Hermesinde, daughter of the Count of Luxembourg Henry the Dark. It symbolized the two counties that Valeran owned. Valeran’s son, Henry V Blond, who owned only Luxembourg, added blue stripes to the shield. Already in the 19th century the coat of arms had a frame: shield-holding lions on the background of the mantle.
The current coat of arms was officially adopted in 1972.
Luxembourg is all about cultural and national independence under the slogan “We want to stay as we are” (Lusk. Mir wulle bleiwe wat mir sin). These words are carved on the pediment of the capital’s town hall. Luxembourg has 502,000 inhabitants, 88,000 of whom live in and around the capital. Native Luxembourgers make up three-quarters of the population, the rest being Germans, Belgians, Italians, and French. France and Germany have had the most noticeable influence on the local culture.
Luxembourg has three official languages – German, French and Luxembourgish. French is mostly spoken in government offices, German is the language of business and the press, but in everyday life most locals use the Luxembourg language, Lutzebuergesch [lieutzebuergesch], which was given national status in 1982. It is a Moselle-Frankish West German cultural dialect.
Unlike Belgium, in Luxembourg all three languages coexist harmoniously. Before World War II, French and German were used in parliament; after the war, the German language was replaced by Luxembourgish. The first years of secondary school use Luxembourgish, followed by German and the last years by French.
The historic area of Luxembourg exceeded the modern borders of the Grand Duchy, it also included the province of Belgium of the same name and small areas of neighboring countries. Now the country is a “triangle” (2586 km²) in the center of Western Europe, bordering France, Belgium and Germany.
Most of the territory is at an altitude of 300 to 500 m above sea level. The northern part of the country, the Oesling, lies on the spurs of the Ardennes and the Rhine Shale Mountains. The relief of the Oesling looks like a mosaic: wooded interfluves, undulating foothills, river valleys. To the south, the mountains drop off sharply, forming a heavily rugged terrain in the central part of the country. The southernmost part of Luxembourg, Gutland, is a low hilly plain, gradually descending from west to east to the wine valley of the Mosel.
The climate of Luxembourg is temperate, transitional from maritime to continental. Winter is mild, the average temperature is from 0 to 2 ° C in January, July -17 ° C. Rainfall is quite high – 700-850 mm a year.
Rivers belong mainly to the Moselle River basin. Forests, mostly beech and oak, occupy more than a third of the country. Not without reason Luxembourg in the late XVIII – early XIX centuries was part of France under the name of “Forest Department” (Forkt) .
- 2nd century, the Romans invaded the territory of the Celtic tribe of Travers.
- In the 5th century, the territory of Luxembourg was conquered by the Franks. It later became part of Charlemagne’s empire.
- 11th century. Conrad I assumed the title of Count of Luxembourg and became the ancestor of a dynasty that ruled until the 14th century. 1244. The city of Luxembourg received communal rights. 1437. The Duchy passed into the possession of the Habsburgs.
- 1443. Luxembourg was taken over by the Duke of Burgundy.
- 1477. Habsburg rule restored.
- 1555. The Duchy passed to the Spanish King Philip II and together with Holland and Flanders fell under Spanish rule.
- XVII century. Luxemburg was repeatedly involved in wars between Spain and France.
- 1713. After long wars, Luxembourg came under the rule of the Austrian Habsburgs.
- 1815. The Congress of Vienna created the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and transferred it to King William I of the Netherlands.
- 1830. Belgium, which belonged to William I, rebelled, Luxembourg joined it, except for the capital, which was held by the Prussian garrison.
- 1831. The Great Powers proposed to divide Luxembourg. Its western (French-speaking) part became a province of independent Belgium.
- 1867. By the Treaty of the London Conference the Prussian garrison was withdrawn and the fortress liquidated. The independence and neutrality of Luxembourg were proclaimed. The throne in the Grand Duchy remained with the Nassau dynasty.
- 1890. After the death of William III, the Grand Duke’s personal union with the Netherlands was broken (his daughter Wilhelmina inherited the Dutch throne) . The Grand Duchy passed to another branch of the House of Nassau – the Grand Duke Adolf became Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
- 1905-1912. Reign of Wilhelm, son of Adolf.
- 1912-1919. Reign of Grand Duchess Maria Adelaide, daughter of Adolphe.
- 1914. Luxembourg captured by Germany, which promised Luxembourg reparations for violating its neutrality (the occupation lasted until the end of World War I) .
- 1940. Germany violated Luxembourg’s neutrality a second time.
- 1942, August. Luxembourg’s accession to the Third Reich. The country’s population goes on a general strike, to which the Germans respond with massive repression.
- 1945. Luxembourg liberated from German occupation.
- 1949. The country joined NATO.
- 1957. Luxembourg participates in the founding of the European Economic Community.
- 1999. Luxembourg joins the euro area.
- 2005, March 15. According to Mercer Human Resource Consulting, Luxembourg is recognized as the safest city in the world.
First things first.
The tourist office sells two kinds of discount tourist cards.
With Luxembourg Card you can visit many attractions in the country and use public transport. The price depends on the validity period of the card, there are also family cards (for a family of two to five people) . The Stater Museekart allows you to visit the main attractions of the capital free of charge for 2 days, for example: the Museum of the History of Luxembourg, the National Museum of History and Art, the Casino Luxembourg and the Casematy Bock.
Changing of the guard
Traditionally, the throne of the Grand Duchy is passed on to the eldest man in the family, or if none is available, to the eldest daughter. The ducal family is very popular with the people. It symbolizes the stability and prosperity of the country.
In 1964 the grand duke Jean succeeded to the throne after 45 years of rule by his mother, the grand duchess Charlotte, and was at the helm until 2000, when he abdicated in favor of his eldest son Henri. Henri is married to a Cuban woman, Maria Teresa, and they have four sons and a daughter.
At the center of Europe.
Luxembourg participated in the founding of the United Nations, the Benelux, the European Union, and the Schengen Agreement. Two Luxembourg representatives, Gaston Thorne (1981-1984) and Jacques Santer (since 1995), served as presidents of the EU commissions. Many institutions of the European Community are located in Luxembourg, such as the European Parliament (together with Strasbourg), the Commission on Audit, the European Investment Bank and the European Court of Auditors. Luxembourg held the presidency of the European Union from July to December 1997.
However, the most striking event in the history of Luxembourg after World War II was the signing of the pan-European agreement (1985) near the village of Schengen. From the name of this village and comes the name of the visa to almost all European countries.
The Duchy of Luxembourg – big attractions in a small country
The Duchy of Luxembourg impresses not only by its tiny size but also by its beautiful architecture and mass of other attractions.
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is actually a small country of just half a million people. However, despite its small size, Luxembourg attracts tourists with great and interesting attractions.
You can see the whole country in two days at the most, but you can still admire the majestic palaces and beautiful natural treasures.
Did you know that… the name of the Duchy translates from German as “Small Town”, but this small country has the highest standard of living and the state itself is one of the richest in Europe.
Duchy of Luxembourg: sights of the city
At least two towns deserve the close attention of tourists to themselves. The first is the village of Östernach, which is the oldest in the country, the first mention of which appears more than ten centuries ago. Almost every building in the town is a monument of architecture!
Another small town is Welz . Its peculiarity is that it is divided into two parts – the Lower and the Upper. In this settlement there are an incredible number of monuments to various personalities – most of them educators, writers, poets and other cultural figures.
The miniature town of Clairvaux, with a population of two thousand, attracts visitors with its chateau and Loretta Chapel. The unique architecture of the settlement is also stunning.
And the small town of Vianden was former capital of the Duchy attracts with the castle with the same name, which has an elevator. By the way, Victor Hugo lived here and there is a house-museum in his honor. The unique adventure park Indian Forest Vianden next to the village is also worth a visit.
The Duchy of Luxembourg: Architectural highlights
There are an incredible number of them in Luxembourg. Therefore we will note the most striking, attractive.
First of all the Palace of the Grand Dukes, located in the city of Luxembourg deserves attention. This structure was built in a beautiful Spanish Renaissance style!
Did you know that … today this palace hosts official receptions of the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess. During the year a lot of official delegations visit the walls of the Palace. There are balls, banquets, and a live broadcast of the Duke’s speech on Christmas Eve.
Among other architectural sights, the Cathedral of Our Lady deserves special attention – a Gothic structure, in which you can guess the style of the Renaissance. There are innumerable Catholic shrines in the Cathedral.
The main monument of the entire duchy is the Monument of the Golden Lady, located in the capital of Luxembourg. The monument was dedicated to the victims of the First World War, but it later became a symbol of victims also of the Second World War and the Korean War. The height of the monument exceeds twenty meters, the Lady is holding a wreath, and at her feet over the body of a fallen soldier mourns his comrade.
The Casemates of Petrus were built as early as 1644 by the Spaniards, but they played their main role during World War II, sheltering more than thirty-five thousand people from the persecution of the Nazis. The casemates are in excellent condition, with all the infrastructure, stairs, passages, etc. preserved.
Luxembourg Switzerland is an incredible natural area located in the East of the Duchy. It gets its name because it perfectly replicates the nature of the Swiss Alps.
The Duchy of Luxembourg has attracted and continues to attract thousands of tourists. If you’re not convinced by the article, we recommend you to watch the video which tells about all the sights of this cozy Duchy.
If you like small countries, then you will be interested in the article Charming elegance of Liechtenstein – Vaduz Castle.