The only remaining Grand Duchy on Earth. The country is trilingual, everybody is versatile in Luxembourgish, German and French. People speak to each other in Luxembourgish, business is done in French, German is spoken in places of worship and most of the media is in German (although a little is in French). French is also the language of the government. And in schools, you’re taught in Luxembourgish, then German, then French. English is also taught. They won’t let you leave school unless you know all four. Making this country one of the most multi-lingual around. Heck, many people also know Portuguese. It is the 179th smallest country on the planet. They have only one university and only one airport. There are 680 cars for every 1,000 persons, only Gibraltar and Monaco have fewer. The country has no national sport, Luxembourgers enjoy a wide range of sports instead. With one million visitors per year, more people visit than live there. The capital was the first place to be named European City of Culture twice. They had no flag until 1830. And they sell the most alcohol in Europe per capita, although most is bought by residents of neighbouring countries. Yes, we’ve arrived in style to the stylish nation of Luxembourg.
Luxembourg is a small landlocked country in Western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France and Germany. Nearly 525,000 people live there, in an area covering nearly 1,000 square miles. Immigrants make up a large percent of the population, mainly Portuguese. The current flag is almost identical to that of the Netherlands, only the width is different. The colours come from the Grand Duke’s coat of arms from the 13th century. The name of the country is from the Old Germanic lucilem, “little”, plus burg, “castle”. How lovely. And their motto is rather brilliant. ‘Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sinn’. Which is Luxembourgish. ‘We want to remain what we are’. How fantastic is that? It’s like a battle cry.
The country is famed for its many folk traditions. Its many world-famous museums. The whole capital city, named Luxembourg City, is one giant UNESCO World Heritage site because of its ancient fortifications. Many well-known photographers and artists are from here. Heck, the actress Loretta Young is of Luxembourg descent. They have a rich culture of music. They are a wonderful people. And their architecture. You would be damn lucky to find any country with better classical architecture. It is phenomenally gorgeous, their classically designed buildings, which is most of their architecture, is pure art. Crafted from the minds of geniuses, painting a canvass of etherealness.
Sights of supreme grace. Notre-Dame Cathedral (not that one). The simplicity of Luxembourg City Hall. The ornate charm of Luxembourg Railway Station. The stunning Gothic artistry of Grand Ducal Palace. The touching war memorial of Gëlle Fra, dedicated to the fallen Luxembourger volunteers who died in World War One. The elegance of the remarkable Adolphe Bridge. And the brutal dominance of the stone fortress, Fort Thüngen.
It’s hard to pick the best. It’s all great. If I had to choose, I’d go for the spectacular Vianden Castle, bursting beautifully from a sea of green. It was built in the 10th century in the Romanesque and Gothic styles, and was recently restored, with restoration only finishing in 1990. It stands proudly atop a high hill, overlooking the town of Vianden. It is breathtaking. A truly special place in a truly special country.
Luxembourg. The country of extraordinary beauty, resilient people and booze.
Images: 1) The flag of Luxembourg, 2) Vianden Castle (credit: tripomatic.com), and 3) Vianden Castle on the right, overlooking Vianden town and the River Our (credit: wikipedia.org)
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