7 highlights of Luxembourg’s UNESCO Heritage Sites

Luxembourg is home to three UNESCO sites, including the entire Old Quarter, a fascinating photo collection and one rather unusual but no less spectacular one. Here are the highlights of all three…

Rosie Fitzgerald
28 July 2020
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Discover Luxembourg

1. The Family of Man

Study the UNESCO-listed Family of Man (Jonathan Godin / LFT)

Situated within the dazzling white-washed walls of Clervaux Castle is the fascinating Family of Man. This UNESCO-listed photo collection was put together by Edward Steichen and is made up of an impressive 503 photographs from 273 artists, from 68 countries.

It’s no exaggeration to say that you could literally spend the entire day studying each of the photos. The collection dates back to 1955 and was originally put together for the New York Museum of Modern Art, before moving to Luxembourg. The images represent peace and the equality of humankind.

Watch the Hopping procession of Echternach ( Peuky Barone-Wagener / LFT)

2. Watch the Hopping procession of Echternach

The view over the Petrusee Valley (Christophe Van Biesen / LFT)

This UNESCO-listed site of Luxembourg is very different to the usual – but certainly worth watching, or even joining in with.

Thought to have started in the 16th century by pilgrims, the hopping dance is carried out by people dressed in white shirts and dark trousers hopping and side-stepping through the cobbled streets of Echternach to the sound of a polka melody.

The tradition is still very much alive today and if you visit Echternach at the right time, you’ll see thousands of people from all across Europe taking part in the procession.

Explore the Corniche (Alfonso Salgueiro/ LFT)

Exploring Luxembourg’s UNESCO-listed Old Quarters and fortifications…

Luxembourg’s Old quarters and fortifications have been recognised by UNESCO and it’s easy to see why. With crumbling, thousands of years old walls rubbing up with modern building, spires reaching for the sky and a huge fort dominating the scene – all built around two rivers – this part of Luxembourg makes for an impressive site.

It’s a lot to take in, but a 90-minute walking tour makes sure you see all of the main sites, while learning about their historic significance. Here’s just 5 highlights of the Old Quarters and fortifications…

Explore the Bock Casemates (Nienke Krook / LFT)

1. Petrusse Park

The Grand-Ducal Palace (Exclusief.be /LFT)

With different shades of green trees climbing up the ancient grey, pockmarked fortification walls, Petrusse Park is a place where the urban and the natural, the old and the new blend seamlessly.

Designed in the late 19th century, the idea of nature and manmade is something French architecture Edouard André clearly played on while creating the park.

The park has been built around the rugged valley landscape, with trees seemingly propping up rock formations, and pretty greenery arranged around military fortifications.

Explore the Cathedral of Notre Dame (KevinFernandes)

2. The Corniche

This is the place to be if you’re looking for a perfect panoramic view. The Corniche has been created around 17th century ramparts, where a steep wall makes a dramatic step between the top of the wall and the Grund below.

Walk at the foot of the wall to crane your neck and appreciate the full size of the historic ramparts, or head to the top of the Corniche to enjoy far-reaching views across the Alzette Valley, and to see the sprawling buildings of the Grund from above.

3. The Bock Casemates

The Bock Casemates is the very historic heart of Luxembourg, where the foundations of this country were first laid down. Back in the 10th century, it was here that first the counts of Luxembourg first built their castle.

These casemates – or underground chambers – were once used to store supplies and fire cannons. Now, the casemates offer a unique perspective on the Old Quarter and a deep dive into history. Follow the warren of subterranean staircases and tunnels, soaking up stories of Luxembourg’s past power, influence and military success as you go.

4. The Grand Ducal Palace

With swirling details above each window, elegantly pointed towers and a caramel facade, the beauty of the Grand Ducal Palace’s exterior is a clue as to what to expect on the inside.

In the summer months, the town residence of the Grand Duke opens its doors to allow visitors a peak at the interior. Step inside and you’ll be greeted with eye-squintingly bright gilded columns, glittering chandeliers and vast Renaissance paintings that cover huge sections of the wall and ceilings. A real regal treat.

Like this? See more of our favourite castles and palaces in Luxembourg

5. The Cathedral of Notre Dame

The Cathedral of Notre Dame  also called the Cathedral of Our Lady of Luxembourg – is a building you’ll instantly recognise from gazing out over the Old Quarter’s skyline. This spindly, spired church has been here since the 1600s and oozes history.

Walk around the outside to appreciate the late Gothic style of the church and go inside to admire the many Renaissance-inspired ornaments. Also inside, you’ll find a grand statue of the church’s namesake, the patron saint of Luxembourg, along with the tombs of past Luxembourgish bishops and the members of Grand-Ducal family.

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