Whilst vanning is perfectly suited to rural areas, there is no doubt that when travelling we want to stop in and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the cities and towns we meander past. Luxembourg City was no exception, and luckily for us there was a super convenient car park, just €1 per hour and a 10 minute walk into town, which made this day nice and easy.
Strolling through a green park in the mid-morning sunshine, we emerged by a large fountain framed with rainbow flowerbeds. On the other side of the fountain we were deposited on the edge of a busy road and what felt like to us, the start of the city. The streets were wide and clean with the usual city buzz of people going about their business.
Finding ourselves in the main square, we were surrounded by the usual bustle of tourism that throngs in these parts of any city. As we wandered deeper in, dark clouds enveloped the sky and in no time we were caught in a ridiculous downpour. Running for cover, we took refuge under a long archway, admiring expensive bottles of wine through the window we happened to be stood near. The deluge passed quickly, in no time the clouds were beginning to break up and we were able to leave our sheltered spot.
Our first real point of interest was Saint Michael’s Church, located in the central Ville Haute quarter. The current appearance of the church dates to 1688, built in a design which incorporates Romanesque and Baroque architecture, but has been renovated several times since that date. Inside was a simple mix of pale and sandy coloured stones, the rows of wooden seats were set up to create the central aisle. On one side was a row of stained glass windows, the sunlight filtering through the glass, painting rainbows across the stone floor. It was a nice church, albeit nothing remarkable; however what was special about this one is that it is the oldest extant religious site in Luxembourg City. The first church was built on that exact spot in 987 as the castle chapel for the Count of Luxembourg. Over the succeeding centuries the building was destroyed, rebuilt and renovated several times.
As we explored further we discovered the Chemin de la Corniche, a pedestrian balcony said to be ‘Europe’s most beautiful’ and we are inclined to agree! This promenade follows the course of the 17th century city ramparts for several hundred metres, offering fantastic views across the city, which we were lucky enough to enjoy in the gorgeous sunshine. The scene directly below is dominated by a large bend in the Alzette River, awash with the blues and greens of above, sweeping around the grounds of the large yellow stoned Neumünster Abbey. Looking wider, the view gives way to small streets and old buildings, the lush green tops of trees filling the gaps in between. And, further in the distance offers a strange juxtaposition, which sort of summed up Luxembourg for me – the old walls, towers and passageways, imposing and steeped in history, with the ultramodern city-scape puncturing the skyline above, its modernity glinting in the sunshine.
Much of our afternoon passed in a similar fashion, strolling through the streets enjoying the various sites of the city. We stumbled across a cathedral, which seemed to be squashed in between other large buildings. The clean-cut sandy stonework rose up in front of us, causing us to crane our necks to see the detailed masonry. Inside a service was in progress, we didn’t intrude for long, standing in the back for a short time listening to the words we could not understand. Among other things, we saw the house of the Grand Duchy, various government buildings and many churches.
Heading in the general direction of the van, we decided to explore some of the smaller pathways of the fortifications to see where they would lead. Steep staircases descended to little passageways, which lead to small towers with their own spiral staircases. One deposited us onto a footbridge across the river, and led to a small enclosed area of grass on the banks of the Azlette. The sun was heating the stone walls and small lizards were emerging from all the nooks and crannies to sun themselves, disappearing in a flash as we walked past.
With one eye on the time we started making our way back to the van, got caught in another ridiculous rain shower, which started to ease as we headed back through the main square. We took a different route through the park and found a cool touristy Luxembourg sign (couldn’t resist a photo!) The more times we got side-tracked on our route back the quicker our pace had to become, and in no time we were at the van with 2 minutes to spare on the parking ticket and some lovely sunny memories of Luxembourg City!