Luxembourg is a magical country with a long, diverse past that will keep anyone who loves history busy for days. Anyone traveling to the small, yet distinct European country can get lost in this intriguing, historic destination. Explore the old quarters in the City of Luxembourg that date back to the 15th-century, visit the royal palace and experience one of several museums filled with some of the most exquisite art in the world. Be prepared to step into a world of wonder. Luxembourg awaits!
Like many cities with a storied history, the City of Luxembourg offers a sleek, bustling, modern metropolis and a much older area that's full of notable buildings from the country's past. The original city in the 10th century was a simple fort under the protection of a stone fortification. Luxembourg's strategic location between France and the rest of Eastern Europe helped turn the ancient capital into a powerful military structure. The remaining buildings, such as several military structures are now in public parks and protected as a World Heritage Site.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame sits along the fortress wall that overlooks the Petrusse Valley Park in Luxembourg City. Since 1621, the Gothic-style church holds the family crypt of the Count of Luxembourg John I of Bohemia who lived from 1296 to 1346.
The National Museum of History and Art sits in the Fish Market, the oldest district in the heart of Luxembourg City. It has a history that's almost as fascinating as the collection it contains. World War II broke out just before the museum's inauguration and rather than opening in 1940, all of its arts and artifacts went into hiding from the country's Nazi occupiers until after the war. The museum and its world-famous pieces opened to the public in 1946. Along with paintings, the destination has an extensive archaeological section that includes jewels, coins, grave markers, and sarcophaguses.
The Grand Ducal Palace is a must-see on every visitor's list. It was completed in 1574 as the town hall and later transformed into the resident of the sovereign in 1890 after the Grand Duke Adolphe following the death of King William III of the Netherlands. Although the Grand Duke and his family don't reside there now, it still serves as an administration hub for the country and hosts offices for the entire family.
The Walls of the Corniche are part of the defensive fortifications built by the Spaniards and French that protected the city in the battles that raged between European countries from the 17th to the 20th century. From the sidewalks that line the wall, visitors get a breathtaking, panoramic view of the Valley of the Alzette.
There are several museums to see in Luxembourg, although another great option is to take a tour of the Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art. While you won't find any historical artifacts or artwork, there is plenty of contemporary art to view. The three-floor building sits in the Eechelen Park and overlooks Luxembourg City. Inside visitors will find the Mudam Collection, which includes fashion, sculptures, paintings, and different ensembles of furniture. The museum also houses a cafe and gift shop.
For sites off the beaten path, try the Mullerthal Trail in Echternach. Located in the countryside, Luxembourg's Little Switzerland, the hike covers 70 miles through fields, farmlands, forests, large rock formations, and various bubbling brooks. One of the highlights of the extensive trail is the Schiessentumpel Waterfall. You can stop on the wooden bridge that crosses the Black Ernz River to get a great view of the moss-covered rocks and sparkling waterfall.
The large, nature park sits northwest of the City of Luxembourg and includes a 939-acre artificial lake with solar-powered boat tours and themed trails along the shore for hiking, biking, or horseback riding. Another site to visit is the former Esch-sur Sure Cloth factory that is now a museum with a working wood-pressing machine from 1807. Guided tours with demonstrations are available upon request. One place you shouldn't miss in the nature park are the ruins of the Esch-sur Sure Castle. The historic site was built around 927, and it wasn't abandoned until after the French Revolution.
There's no shortage of castles to explore in Luxembourg. One of the most popular is the Castle Vianden. Home to the rich and powerful counts of Vianden from its completion in the 14th century to 1890 when it came into possession of the Grand Duke Adolphe. In 1977, the family transferred ownership to the state, and it was given a full restoration. The castle is open to the public for tours throughout the year.
Just a 20-minute drive outside of Luxembourg City is Moselle Valley which is home to more than 50 small wine producers. The rolling valley also encompasses a large part of Germany, one of the neighboring European countries. Here you can stop and visit the Wine Museum in Ehnen before continuing to visit an independent winery. If you can't pick just one, consider a tour of the wine region where you can attend a few different wineries and sample different grape varieties.