Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 6 - Luxembourg and Belgium (2011)

Today we were scheduled to have a very long drive - from Gelnhausen to Brussels via Luxembourg. It would have been a shorter drive if we had chosen the route via Cologne, but taking the more adventurous route meant an additional country to explore. Although Luxembourg was the smallest country we explored in Europe, it was still worth the trip.

our driving route for the day - from Gelnhausen to Luxembourg to Brussels

The city was roughly 300kms, a good 4hr drive, from Gelnhausen. I really didn't have a specific itinerary that explores the city. We planned to visit their tourism office and work our way from there (armed with a tourist map, of course).

We arrived in Luxembourg and parked at PLACE DE LA CONSTITUTION. How convenient! It was walking distance to the main attractions as well as the tourist office. But before we started our walking tour of the city, the group ganged up at the veloh parking space.

Europes favorite mode of transportation (except for Germany)??

the veloh (or velo or bike)

Gëlle Fra Memorial (that's her seen from the bike's handle bar)
"The Golden Lady on Constitution Square was set up in 1923 to commemorate the Luxembourgers who perished in the First World War. The memorial represents a gold-plated female figure on a stone obelisk. On 20th October 1940 the Nazis pulled the monument down; only in 1984 did extensive restoration give it back its original appearance. Today it symbolizes freedom and resistance for the Luxembourg people."

Ok, enough of the craziness with these bikes. It's time to get going. We have only a few hours to see what this country has to offer.

From the plaza, we crossed the street and checked out the town map to see where the tourist office was. It wasn't that far, around 2 blocks away, going up and down the stairs.

30, place Guillaume II

Ira was collecting bus brochures in Singapore. When I found this collection of colourful bus brochures at the tourist office, I called his attention. He was so happy to add more brochures to his collection.

We got ourselves some maps and brochures and asked for the best attractions to see. Armed with our city map, plus our trustee brother-in-law local guide, we were ready to explore the city, but not without having lunch first. We walked back to Place d'Armes where we saw several eating places, and decided to have lunch at McDo (the all-time favorite).

al fresco dining

Place d'Armes

City Palace @ 
Place d'Armes - The generally named Cercle Municipal is an administrative building with several festival halls. From 1953 to 1969 the European Community for Coal and Steel used it as a venue for meetings and conventions.

On the front a unique frieze depicts the scene where Countess Ermesinde hands over the charter of freedom to the citizens of Luxembourg in the year 1244.

After filling our stomachs with burgers, fries and drinks, our feet were ready for the long walk around town. First stop, the palaces.

Palace of the Grand Dukes @ rue du Marché-aux-Herbes
the city residence of the Grand Ducal family
situated right in the heart of town

the side gate of the palace

A few steps away, in the next building is the.....
Parliament @ 19, rue du Marché-aux-Herbes

rue du Marché-aux-Herbes
looking back to where we came from

Then we walked uphill to get a glimpse of Luxembourg's history - from its "fortress" days....

family photo op

Ira posing with St Michael the Archangel

a view from the top of what is considered "Europe's most beautiful balcony". I have to say, it was really worth the long walk uphill to get to see this.

Centre Culturel de Rencontre Abbaye de Neumünster
"The old Altmünster Benedictine abbey was devastated in 1542 during the war between the French King Francis I and the German Emperor Charles V so that the Benedictine monks built a new abbey church in the suburb of Grund. The Neumünster Abbey consisted of a church and 4 wings enclosing an inner courtyard."

Remains of the Fortress
"In 963 Siegfried, Count of Ardenne, acquired this massive rocky ledge, the cradle of the city of Luxembourg, through bartering with the Saint Maximin Abbey in Trier. The rock on which Siegfried built his castle, played a strategically crucial role. Surrounded on three sides by the Alzette valley and accessible only from the west, the stronghold proved easy to defend. Inside the rock, the visitor finds the archeological crypt as well as the casemates of the Bock, formerly used as underground defence galleries."

Ville Haute. Resting before our descend to the carpark.

St Michael Church @ Fishmarket in the central Ville Haute quarter

It is the oldest holy building in the city, replacing the castle chapel of the Counts of Luxembourg placed on the same site in 987. In the course of the centuries the church was destroyed several times, but always reconstructed, altered and extended. Its present appearance goes back to 1688, although it was of course restored in the 60s and the 80s. In view of its turbulent history, it combines elements of Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque architecture.

the smallest traffic light we've ever seen!

Grand-Duchess Charlotte @ Place de Clairefontaine
"The statue of Grand Duchess Charlotte on Clairefontaine Square was designed by the Parisian sculptor Jean Cardot. On 29th April 1990, the 2.75-metre high bronze statue was officially inaugurated in the presence of the Grand-Ducal family. Grand Duchess Charlotte (1896-1985), who was very popular with the Luxembourgers, ruled from 1919 to 1964."

final briefing, sharing a short history of Luxembourg before we leave for Brussels

the kids didn't seem exhausted by the long walk around town

one last stop before bidding farewell

Cathedral to the Blessed Virgin rue Notre Dame

"It was Originally a Jesuit church, the foundation stone of which was laid in 1613. It is a remarkable instance of late Gothic style, revealing various components and ornaments inspired by Renaissance style. At the end of the 18th century it adopted the picture of the Lady Comforter of the Afflicted, who had the power to work miracles, and who ws the patron saint of the city and the country. 50 years later it was consecrated Saint Mary's church and in 1870 Pope Pius IX dedicated the cathedral to the Blessed Virgin. Between 1935 and 1938 it was enlarged."

hubby went inside the church to take some pictures 
while the rest of the group walked back to the carpark with the kids

And that's it. I think we've seen the major sights of Luxembourg in one afternoon. The palaces, the fortress, the churches, the memorial squares. It was worth the detour and a few extra miles on the way to Brussels. I even got myself some souvenirs :)

to add to hubby's snow globe collection

got myself another fridge magnet

Brussels was not waiting for us, around 2 more hours or so of driving. It was nap time in the car for some adults and kids, while our drivers got into gear for the final stretch of this multi-country drive (that's 3 countries in one day!). Bye for now, Germany (back in a few days) and Luxembourg (till next time). 

Glad to be here, Belgium!

it's pizza time at our hosts' place in Brussels

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