Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Luxembourg City, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is in the south central part of the country at the confluence of the rivers Alzette and Pétrusse. It is the country’s chief administrative and economic centre and is of growing international importance as the seat of the Court of Justice of the European Communities, the European Investment Bank, and, jointly with Strasbourg, of the European Parliament. It is also the headquarters of the European Coal and Steel Community. Bank accounts are strictly confidential and foreign nationals can earn interest tax–free. In 1994 the old town was added to the World Heritage List.
The site of a Roman settlement, the medieval fort was acquired in 943 AD by Count Siegfried of the Ardennes. For the next 400 years the castle was frequently attacked and rebuilt by Spaniards, French, Austrians and Dutch. The Grand Ducal Palace dates from 1572 and was originally built as the town hall. Following the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Luxembourg became a Grand Duchy, gained partial independence following the first Treaty of London but was ruled by the King of the Netherlands until gaining full independence in 1867. It was in 1890 that the former town hall became the home of the royal family. The city was occupied by the Germans during both world wars. In 1921 the country formed an economic union with Belgium and both joined with the Netherlands in 1948 to form the Benelux economic union. A founding member of the European Union, the European Court of Justice was established in the city to interpret the treaties established by the EU and to apply the laws made by the Council and Commission. The ‘Summer in the City’ Festival lasts from June to Sept. and encompasses major cultural events.
The old city is surrounded by industrial and residential suburbs. Apart from being an international financial centre with over 250 institutions, Luxembourg’s factories produce iron, steel, textiles, clothing, machinery, chemicals, processed food and beer. Findel Airport is located 6 miles northeast of the city. The city is served by a network of buses. Travel by rail has been made easier since the advent of Eurostar with connections from Brussels. The Luxembourg Music Conservatory was founded in 1909 and the University Centre of Luxembourg in 1969. The city was one of two European Capitals of Culture in 2007.
Places of Interest
The Fish Market in the heart of the old town is surrounded by seventeenth and eighteenth century buildings including the National Museum of History and Art. Following independence in 1867 much of the castle was dismantled but 7 miles of casements can be viewed from the Chemin de la Corniche on top of the old town wall. Since restoration work carried out in 1990 parts of the Ducal Palace have been opened to the public. Notre Dame Cathedral was built in the Gothic style by the Jesuits in 1623. Buried here are several royals including John the Blind, King of Bohemia and Count of Luxembourg from 1310–46. Also of interest are the Wenceslas Circular Walk in the Rham Plateau and an old town gate dating from 1590. The town quarter known as Grund has medieval houses lining the Alzette River. In the Kirchberg quarter is the eighteenth century Fort Thungen with its three circular towers.