Founded in 963, Luxembourg became a grand duchy in 1815 and an independent state
under the Netherlands. It lost more than half of its territory to Belgium in 1839, but gained a
larger measure of autonomy. Full independence was attained in 1867. Overrun by Germany
in both World Wars, it ended its neutrality in 1948 when it entered into the Benelux Customs
Union and when it joined NATO the following year. In 1957, Luxembourg became one of the
six founding countries of the European Economic Community (later the European Union)
and in 1999 it joined the euro currency area.
Not even big enough on most maps of Europe to contain the letters of its name, Lilliputian
Luxembourg makes up in snazz what it lacks in size. A respected member of the European
Union, a role model of international finance and a benchmark in comparisons of quality of
life, Luxembourg enjoys a prosperity that nations many times larger aspire toward and envy.
Visitors to the country pay for their luxury accordingly, but in exchange they find a wealth of
spectacular verdant landscapes crisscrossed by rivers and dotted with the sort of rural
hamlets that most people associate solely with fairy tales.
This is not to say that Luxembourg is all swanky suits and medieval villas. Its capital,
Luxembourg City, manages to maintain a tranquil air of antiquity despite playing frequent
host to fist-pounding, finger-pointing gatherings of financial-world leaders and EU officials.
The north of the country lures outdoors enthusiasts with sylvan settings promising fabulous
skiing and hiking. The Moselle Valley, just east of Luxembourg City, is one of Europe's
most idyllic wine-producing regions. And what's most convenient, the capital is no more
than an hour's drive from anywhere else in the country, so you can truly get a sense of the
lay of the land without spending eons in doing so.
Luxembourg may not be as big a tourist draw as its superpower neighbours, but its charms
are nonetheless unique and its people justifiably proud of their heritage and of their
homeland. Just in case you'd doubt it, take a look at the writing on the wall: the nation's
motto is inscribed everywhere throughout the capital - Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sin – “We
want to remain what we are”. After a visit, you're sure to hope they do.
Luxembourg - Facts and Figures
Full country name: Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (Luxemburg, Letzeburg)
Area: 2586 sq km (999 sq mi)
Capital city: Luxembourg City (pop 90,000)
People: 70% nationals (Celtic stock, with French and German), 30% resident foreigners
(mostly Belgian, French, German, Italian and Portuguese)
Language: Luxembourgish (Letzeburgesch), French, German
Religion: 97% Roman Catholic
Government: Constitutional monarchy
Head of State: Grand Duke Henri
Prime Minister: Jean-Claude Juncker
GDP: US$14 billion
GDP per head: US$32,700
Monetary unit: 1 euro = 100 cents
Annual growth: 3%
Major industries: Iron and steel, plastic and rubber, chemicals, mechanical and electrical
Major trading partners: EU (esp. Belgium, France, Germany, UK, Netherlands)
Member of EU: yes
Eurozone participant: yes
Member of the Schengen area: yes
Luxembourg City, the capital of the duchy is a banking centre and cosmopolitan town
surrounded by magnificent historical fortifications, classified as world heritage by UNESCO.
The surrounding countryside of the city is an unending feast of greenery with many
orchards, small villages which kept their own character until today.
In 1963, Luxembourg City celebrated
it's "millennium". It had been a
chartered city for one thousand
years! Sigefried, Count of the
Ardennes, erected a castle in 963 on
the rocky promontory rising above
the valleys formed by the meanders
of the Alzette river. Evidence
indicates that the natural fortifications
of the site may have been used to
protect Gallic encampments and
Roman outposts for a thousand years
prior to Sigefrieds arrival.
Over the centuries, this castle with it's adjoining
city, set atop the rocky cliffs, was strengthened with
numerous fortifications, walls and gates until it
became known as the Gibraltar of the North.
Even the cliffs themselves were hollowed out to
form a maze of tunnels known as the "Casemates".
Much of the old city of Luxembourg still stands atop
those fortified cliffs. Many of the ancient walls and
gates have been restored. Today, you can walk
along those fortifications or descend into the
valleys of the Alzette and the Pétrusse through
one of the old city gates. You can explore the
narrow winding streets, pass the palace of the
Grand Duke and pause for a drink at a sidewalk
café at the Place d'Armes. You can even tour the
Casemates beneath the city. It is one of the most
beautiful and photogenic cities in Europe.
Luxembourg boasts a large array of
historical and cultural sights that are worth
seeing, lots of interesting and picturesque
spots you can discover countless legends
and anecdotes worth relating.
Palace of the Grand Dukes
The Palace of the Grand Dukes is the
restored palace and city residence of the
grand ducal family. Parts of the palace date
from the 16th century.
The commune of Walferdange is a northern suburb of Luxembourg City, located
immediately adjacent to the capital, along the banks of the Alzette River.
The municipality of Walferdange, celebrating the 150th anniversary of its creation on 25th
November 2000, consists of the villages of Walferdange, Bereldange and Helmsange and is
a developing residential centre with a total population of approximately 6,600 inhabitants.
The Castle of Walferdange, the main facade of which was
reproduced on a stamp, was built in 1825 and was turned
into a royal residence under William II, King of the
Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg. Prince Henry
of the Netherlands, Lieutenant to the King, Grand Duke
William III, lived there from 1850. He died in the castle in
1819, after almost 30 years as lieutenant.
Walferdange is situated at the entry to the “Grunewald”
wood, on one of the principal tourist routes of the country
and at a short distance from the capital. Set in picturesque scenery where the charming
green Alzette Valley meets the wooded heights, inviting to walks throughout the year. The
residence castle of Walferdange houses schools and public services.
Vianden is a small picturesque village situated
on both banks of the Our River.
It has a magnificently restored medieval castle,
the origins of which date back to the 9th
century, overlooking the town.
Originally the home of the Counts of Vianden,
whose years of glory spanned the 11th and 13th
centuries, it is a true architectural gem. In the
17th century, it was partially destroyed by fire
and earthquake. The Grand Duke of
Luxembourg and Guillaume !, King of the Low
Countries, sold the castle in 1820.
Soon afterwards it fell into disrepair. Eventually, the Grand-Duke Adolphe gained ownership
of the castle. It remained in the family until, in 1978, Grand-Duke Jean gave the castle to the
state. At this point reconstruction began to make this remarkable Middle Age structure the
breath-taking historical landmark that it is today.
Clervaux is about 50 km (30 miles) north of Luxembourg City in the heart of the Ardennes
Mountain region known locally as the Eisleck. The village nestles in a crook of the Clerve
river and is overlooked by a 15th century castle, a Romanesque church with twin spires
and a large Benedictine monastery. The castle now houses several small museums.
In the courtyard before the castle, you can find a
single German 88mm gun and an American
Sherman tank with an 88mm hole drilled neatly
through the base of its gun turret. If you ask any
"old timer" from Clervaux, he or she will
enthusiastically relate the story of "The
liberation of Clervaux."
It sounds a bit different each time, but it usually
involves a handful of German occupiers with a
single artillery gun and a lone American tank.
Head of State
Grand Duke Henri
On 7 October 2000, His Royal Highness Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg will abdicated in
favour of his eldest son, Grand Duke Henri.
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Henri of Luxembourg, the
eldest son of the Grand Duke Jean and the Grand Duchess
Joséphine-Charlotte of Luxembourg, was born in 1955 at the
Château de Betzdorf.
Besides Luxemburgish, the Grand Duke speaks French,
English and German. He attended secondary school first in
Luxembourg, and later in France where he passed the
baccalauréat (1974). In 1975, Prince Henri successfully
obtained a Staff College Certificate at the Royal Military
Academy of Sandhurst (UK). He then studied economics
and political science at the University of Geneva where He
graduated in 1980 with an Honours degree (Licence ès
His present rank in the Luxembourg Army is that of Colonel,
and in 1989 He was appointed Honorary Major of the Parachute Regiment (UK).
In 1981 the Prince married Miss Maria Teresa Mestre who also graduated from Geneva
University in 1980 with an Honours degree in political science. They have four sons and one
daughter: Prince Guillaume (1981), Prince Félix (1984), Prince Louis (1986), Princess
Alexandra (1991) and Prince Sebastien (1992).
Born in Rédange-sur-Attert, in the west
of Luxembourg in 1954, Jean-Claude
Juncker spent his childhood and youth
in the south of the country, in Belvaux,
where his father was employed in one of
the great steelworks.
Life in Luxembourg's mining region, the
stronghold of the socialist and
communist movements and home to a
large community of Italian and
Portuguese immigrants, left his mark on
the young man who quickly got
acquainted with the realities of the working world notably through his father's active
involvement in the Luxembourg Christian Trade Union.
After attending secondary school at a boarding school in Clairefontaine (Belgium) and
obtaining his baccalauréat at the Lycée Michel Rodange in Luxembourg, Jean-Claude
Juncker registered with the Faculty of Law of the University of Strasbourg (France) in 1975.
For four years he studied "without much enthusiasm"', obtaining nevertheless a Master's
degree in Law in 1979. He was admitted to the Bar of Luxembourg in February 1980, but he
will never pursued this vocation. In Strasbourg he also met his wife Christiane Frising.
Politically active as a member of the Christian Social Party since 1974, he gained the
recognition of the party's leadership through his oratory skills and his analytical skills
andwas entrusted with the function of Parliamentary Secretary of the party in October 1979.
In 1982 he was appointed Secretary of State for Labour and Social Security.
In June 1984, Jean-Claude Juncker was elected Member of the “Chambre des deputes”
(Parliament) for the first time. He was appointed Minister of Labour and Minister in charge of
the Budget in the first government headed by Jacques Santer.
With Luxembourg presiding the Council of the European Community in 1985, Mr Juncker
chaired the Council of Ministers for Social Affairs and the Budget.
After the legislative elections of June 1989, Jean-Claude Juncker was appointed Minister of
Finance and Minister of Labour.
During the term 1989-1994, Jean-Claude Juncker proved to be a statesman and a politician
out of the ordinary both on a national and a European level. And yet, Jean-Claude Juncker's
career could have come to a dramatic end during that time. After a serious road-accident in
autumn 1989 he remained in a coma for two weeks.
In 1991, as the chairman of the Ecofin Council, Jean-Claude Juncker stood out as one of
the creators of the Maastricht Treaty, in particular of the volume concerning the Economic
and Monetary Union of which he wrote large sections himself. Thanks to his invention of the
principle of “opting out” for the United Kingdom during an informal meeting of the 12
Ministers of Finance in 1991, negotiations on the Economic and Monetary Union could be
In February 1992, Jean-Claude Juncker was one of the politicians signing the Maastricht
Jean-Claude Juncker introduced a massive tax reform in 1993. From January 1990 to
February 1995, Mr Juncker was the head of the Christian Social Party.
In June 1994 he was re-elected as a Member of Parliament and reappointed Minister of
Finance and Minister of Labour. With Prime Minister Jacques Santer's designation as
President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker was appointed Prime Minister
by Grand-Duke Jean in 1995.
In December 1996, Jean-Claude Juncker was named “the hero of Dublin” by the
international press, thanks to his role as a mediator between the German Federal
Chancellor Helmut Kohl and the president of the French Republic Jacques Chirac
concerning the stability pact underlying the Economic and Monetary Union.
The following Luxembourg presidency of the European Council, during the second half of
1997, provided Jean-Claude Juncker with the opportunity to highlight his ambitions for a
more social Europe.
The extraordinary European Council on employment, in November 1997, gave birth to the
"process of Luxembourg", requiring Member States to annually submit an action plan in
favour of employment and to meet quantified and verifiable criteria in terms of job creation
and fight against unemployment. One month later, at the European Council of Luxembourg,
the European Union opened its gates for widening towards the east.
In June 1999, the Christian Social Party won the elections once more and Jean-Claude
Juncker, who obtained a personal record score, became again head of the new government
made up of representatives of the Christian Social Party (CSV) and the Democratic Party, a
government which put an end to 15 years of a governmental coalition between the CSV and
the Socialist Party. Jean-Claude Juncker also maintained the Finance and Communications
Should we be talking about Luxembourg literature or literatures? This question sums up
the complexity of the subject. In fact, the country's three spoken languages –
Luxembourgish, French and German – can also be found in the literature of the Grand
Duchy. Whether you look at novels, short stories, theatrical works or poetry, the bookshops
of Luxembourg contain ample evidence of the astonishing wealth of literary works in the
Literature in the Luxembourgish language only started to develop in the 19th century. The
most important work of the last century is Renert by Michel Rodange, a satirical epic in
verse, parodying via the adventures of the fox Renert, the political situation of the years
Authors like Guy Rewenig, Roger Manderscheid, Jean Portante, Georges Hausemer,
Edmond Dune, Paul Greisch, Lambert Schlechter, Nico Helminger or Léopold
Hoffmann have built the reputation of contemporary Luxembourgish literature.
Luxembourg: A linguistic Puzzle.
The linguistic situation in Luxembourg is characterised by the fact that several languages
are spoken and written at the same time in the same place. Names of streets, shops, travel
tickets, hotel registries and menus are mostly in French (some street and place names are
also added in Lëtzebuergesch). Newspapers printed in the Grand Duchy are mostly in
German, but some cultural articles, many advertisements and social announcements are in
French. In other countries too, several languages are spoken, but they almost always are
limited to specific regions, to the exclusion of other tongues. In Luxembourg, the various
languages are superimposed in an almost hierarchical manner. There is, however, a certain
logic to the puzzle.
On all levels of society, only one language is used in oral communication: Lëtzebuergesch.
This is the everyday spoken language of the people, and the symbol of the Luxembourgers’
national identity. Although of Germanic origin (around the 4th century), Lëtzebuergesch
has sufficiently differentiated itself from its parent language, so as no longer to be readily
understood by many a German. German native speakers might well recognise this or that
word or construction used in Lëtzebuergesch - in the same way that a German from one
region can “understand” a dialect from another German region - but are often caught out by
“non-Germanic” words or turns of phrase.
Lëtzebuergesch is taught in schools and in language courses mostly addressed to the
resident foreigners. Whilst it is an extremely practical and useful means of everyday
conversation, it is a poor culture-bearer. As soon as a conversation reaches out into the
higher levels of abstraction or refined sentiment, the limits of the vocabulary and
grammatical constructions available are all too apparent and it becomes necessary to
borrow from other languages.
One of Luxembourg's most productive writers is
who began his career in the early 1960s as a dramatist and
essayist writing in German. In 1989 and 1991 he published
two autobiographical novels in Luxembourgish.
Manderscheid's success has been such that in 1994 a group
of writers participated in a tribute to him edited by Robert
Gollo Steffen: Aschlofen ënnert engem roude stärenhimmel
as méi wéi geféierlech: E Buch fir de Roger Manderscheid
(Falling Asleep Under a Red Starry Sky Is More Than
Dangerous: A Compilation for Roger Manderscheid).
Luxembourgish literature has always been most popular in its spoken form: music theatre
and epic poems in the 19th century; village theatre, serious drama, and films in the 20th
century. Ernst Binder's Frësch Bestued (Newly Wed) was so popular as a play that it was
subsequently made into the movie Hochzeitsnuecht (Wedding Night).
Other notable examples of contemporary drama in Luxembourgish are Guy Rewenig's
Eisefrësser (Iron Eater), Pol Greisch's De Laangen Tour (The Long Bus Route), and Jean-
Paul Maes' Manila Du Mäin Hiirzegt Kand (Manila, You My Darling Child).
Roger Manderscheid (* 1. März 1933 in Itzig, Hesperingen) ist luxemburgischer
Schriftsteller. Manderscheid besuchte von 1946 bis 1952 das Athenäum in Luxemburg und
war anschließend kurze Zeit als Lehrer beschäftigt. Von 1953 bis 1956 war er
Reserveoffizier der Armee, von 1956 bis 1973 Eisenbahnbeamter beim
Verkehrsministerium und von 1977 bis 1993 Beamter beim Kultusministerium. Er ist Mitglied
im P.E.N.-Zentrum Deutschland und war bis 1997 Präsident des Luxemburger
Schriftstellerverbandes (LSV), seit 1997 Ehrenpräsident.
Manderscheid schreibt Gedichte, Hörspiele, Theaterstücke, Kurzgeschichten und Romane
auf Deutsch und Luxemburgisch.
Sein bekanntestes Werk ist eine luxemburgische Roman-Trilogie, deren erster Band,
Schacko Klak, 1989 unter Regie von Frank Hoffmann und Paul Kieffer verfilmt wurde. In
diesem Buch berichtet er, wie er die Kriegszeit als kleiner Jungen empfunden hat. Es
folgten De Papagei um Käschtebam mit Szenen aus der Nachkriegszeit sowie Feier a Flam.
Children’s books in Luxembourgish are also extremely
popular. In 1998 one of his books was given to every sixth-
grader in Luxembourg as a graduation present.
Zabbazillo is a collection of humorous rhymes by Guy Rewenig.
Guy Rewenig (geb. am 31. 8. 1947 in Luxemburg) verbrachte
seine Kindheit in Gasperich und Cessingen. Nach dem Abitur
am Athenäum wurde er am Institut pédagogique zum Lehrer
ausgebildet. Er unterrichtete zunächst an der Grundschule in
Bettemburg, ab 1971 in Esch/Alzette. Seit 1984 ist er
hauptberuflicher freier Schriftsteller und verlegte seinen
Wohnsitz von Esch/Alzette nach Nospelt.
Ab 1963 veröffentlichte Guy Rewenig erste Filmkritiken im Luxemburger Wort. 1970
erschien sein erstes Theaterstück Interview, im gleichen Jahr auch der Erzählband Als der
Feigenbaum verdorrte. Ab 1973 widmete er sich auch der Kinderliteratur; sein 1990
erschienenes Buch Muschkilusch erfuhr zahlreiche Neuauflagen.
1984 veröffentlichte er Hannert dem Atlantik, den ersten Roman in luxemburgischer
Sprache, der als die Geburtsstunde des modernen Luxemburger Romans gilt. Guy Rewenig
schreibt bis heute in Deutsch, Luxemburgisch und Französisch, sein Roman Mass mat dräi
Hären wurde unter dem Titel La cathédrale en flamme von Jean Portante ins Französische
In seinen zeitkritischen, satirischen Texten weist Guy Rewenig auf soziale und politische
Missstände hin und kommentiert Leben und Mentalitäten in Luxemburg. Als freier
Mitarbeiter veröffentlichte er Artikel in Zeitungen und Zeitschriften (u.a. Tageblatt,
Lëtzebuerger Land, Alternativ, Perspektiv, Gréngespoun und Forum) und war 1974
Gründungsmitglied der ASTI (Association de soutien aux travailleurs immigrés).
2000 gründete Guy Rewenig mit Roger Manderscheid den Verlag ultimomondo.
World Heritage Sites in Luxembourg
Criterion IV: The fortress city of Luxembourg played a significant role in the history of
Europe for several centuries. It preserves major remains of its impressive fortifications and
its old quarters, in an exceptional natural setting.
Because of its strategic
position, Luxembourg was from
the 16th century until 1867,
when it became neutral, one of
Europe's greatest fortresses. Its
fortifications were, until their
partial dismantlement, an
epitome of military architecture
spanning several centuries.
Luxembourg - not a city yet - already made its appearance in history in 963. In that year,
Count Siegfried came in possession of the strategic rock. He built a castle there, which
could be defended easily because of the Alzette Valley that surrounded it for the largest
The successors of Siegfried did not succeed in keeping hold of the rock, though they built
large walls to defend themselves. Until the 19th century several European powers overtook
control. Among them were the Burgundians, the Spanish, the French, the Austrians and
the Germans. Every single group fortified the place even more, until it was known as the
Gibraltar of the North.
Underground a phenomenal network of casemates, 23km in total, was constructed. This
was meant as a hiding place for the soldiers in times of war. Large parts are still intact, and
can be visited.
A castle stronghold erected by the Count Sigefroid on the Rocher du Bock dates to the
origin of the city in 963. In the later years of the Roman Empire (late 4th century and
early 5th century), a fortification occupied this same site, which was close to the
intersection of two Roman roads.
Urban expansion necessitated the construction of a second fortification wall at the
end of the 12th century. A third wall, known as the Wenceslas Wall, was erected in
the 15th century to integrate the Plateau du Rham and, in the lower town, the Grund
The fortress of Luxembourg was coveted. After it was incorporated into the Circle of
Burgundy of Charles-Quint during the 16th century, the country was involved in
conflicts involving, among others, the House of Burgundy, the House of Habsburg,
Napoleon III and Bismark's Prussia.
Under its foreign rulers, the defence system of the city was reinforced and developed in
four stages. The Spanish (1671-1684), the French under the direction of Vauban
(1684-1697), the Austrians (1715-1795), and the Prussian garrison as part of the
German Confederation (1815-1867) participated in the creation of this fortified
In 1867, the signing of the Treaty of London led to the stipulation that the Grand Duchy
would remain neutral in perpetuity. Shortly afterwards, the fortress was evacuated and
the defence system was for the most part dismantled. The extent of the fortifications
had reached 180 hectares, and the city was 120 hectares in area.
The site includes the upper city and the lower city which developed around the deep valley
of the Alzette and Pétrusse rivers. The Chemin de la Corniche follows the edge of the
escarpment, overlooking the meandering river that dictated the layout of adjacent roads.
Bridges and viaducts straddle the valley, linking different parts of the city. The network of
roads, which was influenced by military planning, has been preserved. Numerous views
may be enjoyed from the valley and the upper parts of the city.
Within this uniform urban ensemble, the military architecture which remains - bastions,
towers, barracks, forts, and vestiges of locks - still evokes the force of the site over the
course of its history. Linked to the natural landscape, the rich architectural panorama of
Luxembourg is dominated by the 17th century Church of St-Michel and the spires of the
17th century Cathedral of late Gothic expression. On the Chemin de la Corniche, as in the
valley, the houses line the curve of the river.
Luxembourg is one of the world's most industrialized countries and has a high standard
of living. In 1999 the gross national product was $19.3 billion, or $44,740 per person. The
national budget in 1997 included revenue of $7.5 billion and expenditure totalling $6.7
Banking, manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism are the most important economic
sectors. Major manufactures include iron and steel, processed food, rubber and plastic
products, metal and machinery products, paper and printing products, food products, and
chemicals. The industrial sector, initially dominated by steel, has become increasingly
diversified to include chemicals, rubber, and other products.
In the early 1990s the annual production of pig iron totalled about 2.3 million metric tons and
crude steel 3.1 million tons; dwindling iron resources and reduced demand for
Luxembourg's steel exports have weakened the metal industry since the mid-1970s.
However, the growth of Luxembourg's financial sector has compensated for the steel
industry's diminishing importance. Services, especially banking, account for a substantial
proportion of the economy.
Agriculture plays a minimal role in the country's economy. It is based on small family-
owned farms. Principal crops include barley, wheat, potatoes, oats, rye, and wine grapes.
Substantial numbers of cattle, hogs, and poultry are also raised.
The stable, high-income economy features solid growth, low inflation, and low
unemployment. The economy depends on foreign and trans-border workers for 30% of its
Luxembourg has a customs union with Belgium and the Netherlands, and, as a member of
the EU, enjoys the advantages of the open European market. It joined with 10 other EU
members to launch the euro on 1 January 1999.
Although Luxembourg, like all EU members, has suffered from the global economic slump,
the country has maintained a fairly robust growth rate. On 1 January 2002, Luxembourg -
together with 11 of its EU partners - began to replace its circulating national currency with
Collected by: Michael Reisinger (AIIIa, 2002/03)
Coaching, coordination and updating: Dr. Susanne Pratscher