Luxembourg is a fun little town. It has a huge valley, which has long been used as a strategical defense against attackers by many different armies. In 963, Count Siegfried occupied the area to defend his wealth. Since then, it has grown into one of the strongest fortresses of Europe, acquiring the status of ‘Gibraltar of the North’. It has been occupied by the Spanish, the French, the Austrians, the Germans, the Dutch and now the Luxembourgish. It’s military capacities, including some of the fortress buildings and lots of underground corridors called ‘casemates’ have been dismantled after the second Treaty of London in 1867. To avoid future usage of the city for war. That makes the city slightly less impressive to see than it used to be, but it’s still pretty cool. There are great views.
The most significant era for Luxembourg was the period between 1308 and 1437, when the powerful House of Luxembourg occupied vast parts of Europe, including the city of Prague, Hungary and Poland to compete with the house of Habsburg, which ultimately took over years later. Through strategic weddings, I suppose.
After the peace treaty of the late 1800’s, Luxembourg has joined the industrial revolutions. It is now building a significant part of its economy on banking. As a tax haven, that remains on a strategic position on the continent of Europe, it is now attracting head offices of companies such as Amazon and Skype. Meaning there are lots of rich people between the traditional Luxemburgians. That last group, speaking Luxembourgish, have a more down-to-earth attitude, but also quite some money. After all, unemployment in this country is low.
Perhaps related to the earlier dismantlement of the ‘little burrow’, the city of Luxembourg has become one of the cornerstones of the European Union, as it has been one of its founding members. You could argue that where Luxembourg was once a symbol of war, it has now become a symbol of peace.
The city has an expanding Christmas market. On several spots in town, it is now full of those little wooden stands with fake snow flying around, and romantic lights and Christmas trees. They sell various types of glühwein, cheese fondue and many other foods and beverages, including the typically Luxembourgish gromperekichelchen. Plus a huge amount of Christmas gifts. The kind we need to express our love for each other. It gets extremely crowded here in the weekend.
I am lucky that all of my old friends and family are around and available. We talk a bit about our latest news and stroll between the crowd. It’s usually difficult to see the charm of your home place, especially if you grew up there. But the longer you’re gone the easier it gets. Especially around this time of the year.