The fortifications are masterpieces by the French Sun King’s military architect, Sébastien le Prestre de Vauban (1633–1707). According to areacodesexplorer, the Wenceslas Wall with its 37 towers and 15 gates in the lower town, the grand ducal palace and the high Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady in the upper town bear witness to the great importance of the town in a strategically important location in Europe.
|Official title:||Old town district and fortresses of Luxembourg|
|Cultural monument:||historical quarter with Bockfelsen, government quarter with the cathedral and the lower town of Grund as well as entrenchments, bastions, remnants of the once 875 m long Wenceslas wall and the 17 km casemates that are still in existence today|
|Country:||Grand Duchy of Luxembourg|
|Location:||State capital Luxembourg on the Alzette and Petruß|
|Meaning:||Europe’s largest fortress for four centuries with a cross-section of the changing military architecture|
|963||Siegfried I’s castle was built on the Bockfelsen.|
|14th century||Construction of the Wenceslas Wall|
|1443||Captured by the Burgundians|
|17th century||Captured by Louis XIV’s troops and fortification expansion|
|1726-40||under Austrian rule the casemates were built|
|1794/95||Siege and annexation by revolutionary France|
|since 1933||Visitor access to the Petruß casemates|
Strong walls in the Gibraltar of the north
Melusine, a beautiful nymph and wife of Count Siegfried, the first lord of the Lützelburg, which was built on the Bockfelsen, is said to have been cast out by her husband and banished to the rocks above the Alzette. Since then she has been waiting there for her release, sewing a shirt. Fortunately, she takes a lot of time sewing and only makes one stitch every seven years. Because when the shirt is finally finished, Luxembourg is doomed to sink into rubble and ashes.
But instead of going under a short time after its foundation, the settlement, which originally emerged at the intersection of two Roman roads, changed around the castle with the increasing influence of the House of Luxembourg, which provided four German emperors. So a mighty, almost impregnable fortress, a “Gibraltar of the North”, gradually emerged on a gray-yellow rock. During the 400-year period of foreign rule that began with the Burgundian conquest and ended with Luxembourg independence in 1839, it mainly attracted European military leaders and famous military architects such as the grandiose military architect of the Sun King Louis XIV, Sébastien le Prestre de Vauban Spell. The aesthetic poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who came to the city in 1792, described Luxembourg as “a chain of unmistakable bastions, redoubts.
Defiant and forbidding, the Bockfelsen tower up, surrounded on three sides by the Alzette valley. Beneath this “military eagle’s nest” extend deep in the rock on several levels, like a tangle of mole tunnels, numerous battlements, the Bock casemates, the individual sections of which are designed for up to fifty cannons. The lower part of the first castle tower from the time of Count Siegfried is just as much evidence of the eventful past as the apartments of the 82-year-old Field Marshal von Bender from the time of the 29-week siege by French revolutionary troops.
The bastions and casemates above the Petruß, laid out in the Middle Ages and expanded according to Vauban’s plans, have been a magnet for visitors for decades. The fortified flanks and ramparts of the Chemin de Corniche are just as characteristic of the cityscape as the castle bridge, above and below ground access to the Bockfelsen. An impressive landmark of the European fortress city of Luxembourg is the Wenceslas Wall, which encloses the lower town of Grund with the former Neumünster Abbey, now used for art and culture, and the Rham plateau with its former barracks. Hundreds of bridges, including the Adolphe Bridge, under which the Petruß meanders through the valley, became necessary due to the location of the city and connect the urban areas.
The guards in front of the Grund and Trier Gate have long since moved away. In the shadow of the “Three Towers” nobody is looking for protection from a hail of arrows and cannons. The echo of the cannons has long since died down, and the gun smoke has evaporated. The numerous jumps and crescents have sunk into a deep slumber. With seven mile boots, as it were, one wanders through a thousand years of history in one hundred minutes on the Wenceslas Trail. The round watchtowers are just as important to discover as the three fortification walls of the city. In the center of the busy government district in the upper town, protected by seemingly impregnable bastions, earthly power resides in the Renaissance-style Grand Ducal Palace. Not far away, the old Jesuit college with the high Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady reminds of the leading role of the Catholic Church. Pretty and winding alleys like Rue Large and cozy squares make you forget the times when a 4,000-strong garrison dominated the city.
The tradition-based attitude towards life in the city, which has been developing its peculiarity more and more since the 19th century, is reflected in the final line of the cantata, with which the first train from Luxembourg to neighboring countries said goodbye on October 4, 1859: »Mir wele bleiwe wat mer sin «-» We want to stay what we are «.