Luxembourg is the world’s only remaining Grand Duchy, which functionally just means it’s a kingdom. The Grand Duchal Palace houses the royal family, as well as the Luxembourgish Parliament and Chamber of Deputies. As a functioning residence, office, and government building, it is not generally open for tourists, however there is a six-week period every summer when the royal family is on vacation that tours are available and the fine architectural details of the exterior are worth seeing as well.
The National Museum of History and Art displays artworks and artifacts from throughout Luxembourgian history: prehistoric, Gallo-Roman, Medieval to more recent. Medallions, coins, decorative arts, weapons, and beaux-arts including paintings, sculptures and photography.
The eight sections of The National Museum of Natural History span the natural sciences: botany, ecology, geology and mineralogy, geophysics and astrophysics, palaeontology, vertebrate zoology, and invertebrate zoology.
For a dozen museums in Luxembourg, descriptions, maps and website links, see the website below.
Luxembourg’s Old Town has been fully pedestrianized and boasts some fine shops, as well as bars and restaurants. It’s full of lovely public squares and makes a great place for a stroll to soak up local culture. Among favorite spots in the old town are the Place d’Armes, Place Guillaume, and Constitution Square, three buzzing public plazas. Summer is a great time to visit Place d’Armes; the cafes will have patios out in the square and nightly performances by local and international musicians fill up the square every evening.
The River Alzette is actually quite small but over the centuries it carved a huge valley in the soft sandstone. In the valley, you’ll find the Ville Basse (Lower City) with its charming Grund neighborhood. The old city walls surrounded the Valley and now they form what locals charmingly call the city’s “balcony” or Corniche. You can take the Venceslas walk along the fortress walls for views over the Ville Basse.
Another fine walk is over the Adolphe Bridge (also called the New Bridge) across the River Petrusse. Named after Luxembourg’s first fully independent Grand Duke, the bridge was built between 1900-03 and swiftly became an unofficial national symbol of Luxembourg’s independence. The 500-foot span of the bridge and its huge arches were audacious for their day.
Luxembourg’s fame as a military stronghold began with the Bock, a promontory over the River Alzette that made for an ideal natural fortification. It was here that Count Sigfried built his Castle in 963, which became the foundation of the city. The fortifications were attacked and rebuilt several times over the centuries by the armies of the major European powers until the 1867 truce finally called for the demolition of the fortress, which had become obsolete in the face of modern artillery and methods of war.
Ruins of the fortress remain a major tourist attraction, as are the Casemates, a series of tunnels under the fortress which were never dismantled. The extraordinary tunnels – more than 14 miles all together – were built in the 17th and 18th centuries by successive Spanish, French, and Austrian rulers. When functioning, they were like an underground city, with 50 cannons, housing for 1,200 soldiers, stables for horses, workshops, kitchens, bakeries, and slaughterhouses. It’s an incredible feat of military engineering, and a must see for any visitor to Luxembourg.