- One of the things that fancies me in Europe is the existence of tiny countries that most people fail to remember or whose existence people fail to acknowledge since they are usually lost between bigger and more heard-of countries in Europe. One such tiny country is located southeast of Belgium, west of Germany, and north of France. This is none other than the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg! Despite its size, it is the richest country in Europe and one of the top 10 richest in the world. As its official name states, Luxembourg is a "Grand Duchy," which means that it is ruled be a grand duke (sort of like their king.) Currently, Luxembourg is the only grand duchy remaining in the world, and despite its size, it has its own national language close to German: Luxembourgish; French and German however, as well as English, are all well understood, and only a fraction of the population speaks Luxembourgish as a native tongue. As it is a small country, it is a popular day trip from surrounding countries like Belgium. For those who wish to travel to Luxembourg, do understand that it is a country on mountains, and some parts of the country's cities will be located on a plateau, and others will be on flat ground or a lower plateau. The streets of the cities may also go up and down, so it may be difficult for whose who have a hard time walking.
- Luxembourg is a 3-hour train ride from Brussels, and stop at the country's capital, Luxembourg City. Ticket reservations are not necessary but I thought of booking in advance since it was an international trip. Luxembourg's national railway company is called the Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer Luxembourgeois (CFL for short, click here for the train's official site.) It also leaves from Brussels Centraal Station in Brussels, Brussels Nord, and Brussels Midi/Zuid (the central, north, and south railway stations). Do note that there is another station called "Brussels-Luxembourg"; this is NOT Luxembourg City, but a part of Brussels. When booking tickets online, also check for the timetable for DIRECT TRAINS between Brussels and Luxembourg. Some trains go directly between both cities, but most journeys need you to change trains at Arlon Station (still in Belgium, near the Belgium-Luxembourg border.) I usually avoid having to change trains since there might be delays in the first leg of the train, which will require me to wait longer for the second train in the station where I'm supposed to change trains. Since the online tickets do not have a specific time indicated (i.e. you can ride on any train that goes between Brussels and Luxembourg within the date indicated on the ticket,) just take note of the times when the trains would go directly between cities. However, as these direct trains vary in frequency (and on some days they may not have direct trains,) at least you are aware.
- Since my mom and I left Belgium early in the morning, we arrived around 10:00am, and immediately rode the cab to Casemates du Bock as it is quite a long walk from the station. Do note that there are casemates in Luxembourg, a "casemate" (pronounced as "keys-meyt" or "kahz-maht" in some languages) being a fort or in some cases an armored enclosure where guns are fired. In case you're doing your research for your itinerary, or when asking for directions or riding a cab, make sure you specify which casemate you wish to go to; Casemates du Bock is the most popular one.
- Before entering Casemates du Bock, we took some pictures of the Grund, one of the lower districts of the city. The most iconic structure in the Grund is the 17th-century Neumunster Abbey, which is not used as a cultural space and function hall. The Grund can also be seen from a famous wall at the exit of the Casemates du Bock, and closer to the city, called Chemin de la Corniche.
|Map of the capital.|
|There are plenty of Aqueducts.|
|Inside the Casemates du Bock.|
|Looks like an ant's house.|
|At the bridge connecting the casemates to the old city.|
|Another view of the Grund and the Neumunster Abbey.|
|Inside St. Michael's Church.|
|Luxembourg City is one of the cities that will really bring you back in time.|
|The church at the center is the St. Michael's Church.|
|The Grand Ducal Palace, but more on that later.|
|The spires of the Notre-Dame, as seen from Place Guillame II.|
|It's a giant cathedral in a tiny country.|
|I like the paintings on the walls.|
|Spires and roof from the back. Also notice how the Dutch flag is almost identical to the Luxembouger flag. The only difference is that the flag of Luxembourg has a lighter shade of blue.|
|Musee de la Banque from afar.|
|The Grand Ducal Palace from the outside.|
- We learned a lot about the life and advocacy of the royal family of Luxembourg, and becoming more curious, we actually wanted to know more about the significance of this tiny country. After all, this is also one of the headquarter/main cities of the European Union. However, since we did not want to go back to Brussels too late in the day, we had a leisurely stroll back to the train station for our train back to Brussels. I also understand that we only saw a fraction of Luxembourg City, and more so the entire tiny country. However, there are bigger and nicer castles and historical sites scattered all over the Luxembourger countryside. Maybe next time, if I have the chance to go back to Luxembourg, I might consider staying a few more days just so I can see how this little country can surprise me further!
- Please don't forget to read all about my other adventures in the Netherlands, and Belgium, here!!
Part 1, Amsterdam: here, and here
Part 2, Zaanse Schans: here
Part 3, The Hague/Den Haag: here
Part 4, Haarlem: here
Part 5, Hoorn: here
Part 1 and 5, Brussels: here
Part 2, Ghent/Gent: here
Part 3, Bruges/Brugge: here
Part 4, Antwerp: (coming soon!)