Luxembourg (city)

Luxembourg (city)
Luxembourg City
Stad Lëtzebuerg
—  Commune  —
Skyline of Luxembourg City

Coat of arms
Map of Luxembourg with Luxembourg City highlighted in orange, the district in dark grey, and the canton in dark red
Coordinates: 49°36′42″N 06°07′48″E / 49.61167°N 6.13°E / 49.61167; 6.13Coordinates: 49°36′42″N 06°07′48″E / 49.61167°N 6.13°E / 49.61167; 6.13
Country  Luxembourg
District Luxembourg
Canton Luxembourg
 – Mayor Paul Helminger
 – Total 51.46 km2 (19.9 sq mi)
Area rank 4th of 116
Highest elevation 402 m (1,319 ft)
 – Rank 56th of 116
Lowest elevation 230 m (755 ft)
 – Rank 45th of 116
Population (2009)
 – Total 88,586
 – Rank 1st of 116
 – Density 1,721.5/km2 (4,458.5/sq mi)
 – Density rank 2nd of 116
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 – Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
LAU 2 LU00011001
City of Luxembourg: its Old Quarters and Fortifications *
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Luxembourg Castle — The reconstructed Fort Thüngen, formerly a key part of Luxembourg City's fortifications, now on the site of the Mudam, Luxembourg's museum of modern art.
Fort Thüngen — The reconstructed Fort Thüngen, formerly a key part of Luxembourg City's fortifications, now on the site of the Mudam, Luxembourg's museum of modern art.
Country Luxembourg
Type Cultural
Criteria iv
Reference 699
Region ** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1994 (18th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List
** Region as classified by UNESCO

The city of Luxembourg (Luxembourgish: Lëtzebuerg, German: Luxemburg), also known as Luxembourg City (Luxembourgish: Stad Lëtzebuerg, French: Ville de Luxembourg, German: Stadt Luxemburg), is a commune with city status, and the capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It is located at the confluence of the Alzette and Pétrusse Rivers in southern Luxembourg. The city contains the historic Luxembourg Castle, established by the Franks in the Early Middle Ages, around which a settlement developed.

Luxembourg City lies at the heart of Western Europe, situated 213 km (132 mi) by road from Brussels, 372 km (231 mi) from Paris, 209 km (130 mi) from Cologne, and 65 km (40 mi) from Metz in northeast France.[1]

As of 2010, the commune of Luxembourg City had a population of 100,000, which was almost three times the population of the country's second most populous commune. The city's metropolitan population, including that of surrounding communes of Hesperange, Sandweiler, Strassen, and Walferdange, is 103,973.

In 2009, Luxembourg was ranked as having the third highest GDP - per capita at $79,600 (US Dollars)[2] with the city having developed into a banking and administrative centre. It is a seat of several institutions of the European Union, including the European Court of Justice, the European Court of Auditors, and the European Investment Bank.



Old City of Luxembourg at night

In the Roman era, a fortified tower guarded the crossing of two Roman roads that met at the site of Luxembourg city. Through an exchange treaty with the abbey of Saint Maximin in Trier in 963, Siegfried I of the Ardennes, a close relative of King Louis II of France and Emperor Otto the Great, acquired the feudal lands of Luxembourg. Siegfried built his castle, named Lucilinburhuc ("small castle"), on the Bock Fiels ("rock"), mentioned for the first time in the aforementioned exchange treaty.

In 987 Egbert, Archbishop of Trier consecrated five altars in the Church of the Redemption (today St. Michael's Church). At a Roman road intersection near the church, a marketplace appeared around which the city developed.

The city, because of its location and natural geography, has through history been a place of strategic military significance. The first fortifications were built as early as the 10th century. By the end of the 12th century, as the city expanded westward around the new St. Nicholas Church (today the cathedral of Notre Dame), new walls were built that included an area of 5 hectares (12 acres). In about 1340, under the reign of John the Blind, new fortifications were built that stood until 1867.

Skyline of the Hollerich quarter

In 1443, the Burgundians under Philip the Good conquered Luxembourg. Luxembourg became part of the Burgundian, and later Spanish and Austrian empires (See Spanish Netherlands and Spanish road) and under those Habsburg administrations Luxembourg Castle was repeatedly strengthened so that by the 16th century, Luxembourg itself was one of the strongest fortifications in Europe. Subsequently, the Burgundians, the Spanish, the French, the Spanish again, the Austrians, the French again, and the Prussians conquered Luxembourg.

In the 17th century, the first casemates were built; initially, Spain built 23 km (14 miles) of tunnels, starting in 1644.[3] These were then enlarged under French rule by Marshal Vauban, and augmented again under Austrian rule in the 1730s and 1740s.

During the French Revolutionary Wars, the city was occupied by France twice: once, briefly, in 1792–3, and, later, after a seven-month siege.[4] Luxembourg held out for so long under the French siege that French politician and military engineer Lazare Carnot called Luxembourg "the best fortress in the world, except Gibraltar", giving rise to the city's nickname: the 'Gibraltar of the North'.[4]

Nonetheless, the Austrian garrison eventually surrendered, and as a consequence, Luxembourg was annexed by the French Republic, becoming part of the département of Forêts, with Luxembourg City as its préfecture. Under the 1815 Treaty of Paris, which ended the Napoleonic Wars, Luxembourg City was placed under Prussian military control as a part of the German Confederation, although sovereignty passed to the House of Orange-Nassau, in personal union with the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The cercle municipal on the mediatheque

After the Luxembourg Crisis, the 1867 Treaty of London required Luxembourg to dismantle the fortifications in Luxembourg City. Their demolition took sixteen years, cost 1.5 million gold francs, and required the destruction of over 24 km (15 mi) of underground defenses and 4 hectares (10 acres) of casemates, batteries, barracks, etc.[5] Furthermore, the Prussian garrison was to be withdrawn.[6]

The Gëlle Fra monument commemorates those who volunteered for service in the armed forces of the Allies in World War I.

When, in 1890, Grand Duke William III died without any male heirs, the Grand Duchy passed out of Dutch hands, and into an independent line under Grand Duke Adolphe. Thus, Luxembourg, which had hitherto been independent in theory only, became a truly independent country, and Luxembourg City regained some of the importance that it had lost in 1867 by becoming the capital of a fully independent state.

Despite Luxembourg's best efforts to remain neutral in the First World War, it was occupied by Germany on 2 August 1914. On 30 August, Helmuth von Moltke moved his headquarters to Luxembourg City, closer to his armies in France in preparation for a swift victory. However the victory never came, and Luxembourg would play host to the German high command for another four years. At the end of the occupation, Luxembourg City was the scene of an attempted communist revolution; on 9 November 1918, communists declared a socialist republic, but it lasted only a few hours.[7]

In 1921, the city limits were greatly expanded. The communes of Eich, Hamm, Hollerich, and Rollingergrund were incorporated into Luxembourg City, making the city the largest commune in the country (a position that it would hold until 1978).

Boulevard Royal

In 1940, Germany occupied Luxembourg again. The Nazis were not prepared to allow Luxembourgers self-government, and gradually integrated Luxembourg into the Third Reich by informally attaching the country administratively to a neighbouring German province. Luxembourg City was liberated on 10 September 1944.[8] The city was under long-range bombardment by the German V-3 cannon in December 1944 and January 1945.

After the war, Luxembourg ended its neutrality, and became a founding member of several inter-governmental and supra-governmental institutions. In 1952, the city became the headquarters of the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community. In 1967, the High Authority was merged with the commissions of the other European institutions; although Luxembourg City was no longer the seat of the ECSC, it hosted some part-sessions of the European Parliament until 1981.[9] Luxembourg remains the seat of the European Parliament's secretariat, as well as the European Court of Justice, the European Court of Auditors, and the European Investment Bank. Several departments of the European Commission are also based in Luxembourg.



Luxembourg seen from Spot satellite
The gorges. Adolphe Bridge

Luxembourg City lies on the southern part of the Luxembourg plateau, a large Early Jurassic sandstone formation that forms the heart of the Gutland, a low-lying and flat area that covers the southern two-thirds of the country.

The city centre occupies a picturesque site on a salient, perched high on precipitous cliffs that drop into the narrow valleys of the Alzette and Pétrusse rivers, whose confluence is in Luxembourg City. The 70 m (230 ft) deep gorges cut by the rivers are spanned by many bridges and viaducts, including the Adolphe Bridge, the Grand Duchess Charlotte Bridge, and the Passerelle. Although Luxembourg City is not particularly large, its layout is complex, as the city is set on several levels, straddling hills and dropping into the two gorges.

The commune of Luxembourg City covers an area of over 51 km2 (20 sq mi), or 2% of the Grand Duchy's total area. This makes the city the fourth-largest commune in Luxembourg, and by far the largest urban area. Luxembourg City is not particularly densely populated, at under 1,500 people per km²; large areas of Luxembourg City are maintained as parks, forested areas, or sites of important heritage (particularly the UNESCO sites), while there are also large tracts of farmland within the city limits.

Quarters of Luxembourg City

Luxembourg City is subdivided into twenty-four quarters, which cover the commune in its entirety. The quarters generally correspond to the major neighbourhoods and suburbs of Luxembourg City, although a few of the historic districts, such as Bonnevoie, are divided between two quarters.


Considering its latitude, Luxembourg City has a mild oceanic climate, marked by high precipitation, cold to cool winter temperatures and temperate summers. Moderate to heavy cloud cover is present for more than two-thirds of the year.

Climate data for Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 2.3
Average low °C (°F) −2.3
Precipitation mm (inches) 71.2
Avg. precipitation days 18.3 15.0 16.6 15.5 16.0 14.6 12.5 13.5 12.6 14.4 16.4 16.9 182.3
Source: World Meteorological Organisation (UN) [10]


Local government

Luxembourg City Hall is the heart of the communal administration, and hosts the offices of both the communal council and the mayor.

Under the Luxembourgian constitution, local government is centred on the city's communal council. Consisting of twenty-seven members (fixed since 1964), each elected every six years on the second Sunday of October and taking office on 1 January of the next year,[11] the council is the largest of all communal councils in Luxembourg. The city is nowadays considered a stronghold of the Democratic Party (DP),[12] which is the third-largest party nationally. Currently, the Democratic Party is the largest party on the council, with eleven councillors.[13]

The city's administration is headed by the mayor, who is the leader of the largest party on the communal council. As a result of the DP's control of the communal council, the mayor has been the DP's Paul Helminger since 18 August 1999.[12] Following municipal elections on 9 October 2011, the DP's 38 year-old Xavier Bettel is to be the new mayor.[14] He will officially take up office when the new communal council is appointed no later than 1 January 2012.[15] The mayor leads the cabinet, the collège échevinal, in which the DP forms a coalition with The Greens.[16] Unlike other cities in Luxembourg, which are limited to four échevins at most, Luxembourg is given special dispensation to have six échevins on its collège échevinal.[17]

National government

The Plateau de Kirchberg has many new buildings including those for the European Instiutions

Luxembourg City is the Seat for the Luxembourg Government. The Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg lives in Colmar-Berg.

European institutions

Luxembourg City is the seat of several institutions of the European Union, including the European Court of Justice, the European Commission, the secretariat of the European Parliament, the European Court of Auditors and the European Investment Bank. The majority of these institutions are located in the Kirchberg quarter, in the northeast of the city.


Despite the city's comparatively small size, it has several notable museums: the recently renovated National Museum of History and Art (MNHA), the Luxembourg City History Museum, the new Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art (Mudam) and National Museum of Natural History (NMHN). The city of Luxembourg itself is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, on account of the historical importance of its fortifications.[18] In addition to its two main theatres, the Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg and the Théâtre des Capucins, there is an impressive new concert hall, the Philharmonie, as well as a conservatory with a large auditorium. Art galleries include the Villa Vauban, the Casino Luxembourg and Am Tunnel.[19]

Luxembourg was the first city to be named European Capital of Culture twice. The first time was in 1995. In 2007, the European Capital of Culture[20] was to be a cross-border area consisting of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Rheinland-Pfalz and Saarland in Germany, the Walloon Region and the German-speaking part of Belgium, and the Lorraine area in France. The event was an attempt to promote mobility and the exchange of ideas, crossing borders in all areas, physical, psychological, artistic and emotional.

Luxembourg City is also famed for its wide selection of restaurants and cuisines, including four Michelin starred establishments.[21]

Places of interest

The Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial

Places of interest include the Gothic Revival Cathedral of Notre Dame, the fortifications, the Grand Ducal Palace, the Gëlle Fra war memorial, the casemates, the Neumünster Abbey, the Place d'Armes, the Adolphe Bridge and the city hall. The city is the home of the University of Luxembourg and Radio Luxembourg.

The Second World War Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial is located within the city limits of Luxembourg at Hamm. This cemetery is the final resting place of 5,076 American military dead, including General George S. Patton. There is also a memorial to 371 Americans whose remains were never recovered or identified.

International relations

Luxembourg is a fellow member of the QuattroPole union of cities, along with Trier, Saarbrücken, and Metz (neighbouring countries: Germany and France).

Twin towns – Sister cities

Luxembourg is twinned with:

Country City State / Region Since
United Kingdom United Kingdom[22] Camden arms.png Camden, London Flag of England.svg England 2007
France France Blason Metz 57.svg Metz Flag fr-lorraine 300px.png Lorraine

See also


  1. ^ "Great Circle Distances between Cities". United States Department of Agriculture. Archived from the original on 2005-03-26. Retrieved 2006-07-23. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "The Fortress". Luxembourg City Tourism Office. Retrieved 2006-07-23. 
  4. ^ a b Kreins (2003), p. 64
  5. ^ "World Heritage List - Luxembourg" (PDF). UNESCO. 1 October 1993. Retrieved 2006-07-19. 
  6. ^ (French) Treaty of London, 1867, Article IV. GWPDA. Retrieved on 2006-07-19.
  7. ^ Luxembourg country profile. Retrieved on 2006-07-23.
  8. ^ Thewes (2003), p. 121
  9. ^ "Alcide De Gasperi Building". Centre Virtuel de la Connaissance sur l’Europe. 16 June 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-23. 
  10. ^ "World Weather Information Service - Luxembourg City". 
  11. ^ (French) "Attributions du conseil communal". Ville de Luxembourg. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  12. ^ a b (French)Hansen, Josée (8 October 1999). "Cliff-hanger". Lëtzebuerger Land. Archived from the original on 16 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  13. ^ (French)"Composition du conseil communal". Ville de Luxembourg. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  14. ^ "Xavier Bettel - Luxembourg City's new Mayor",, 10 October 2011. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  15. ^ "Paul Helminger passe la main à Xavier Bettel", L'Essentiel, 10 October 2011. (French) Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  16. ^ (French)"Composition du collège échevinal". Ville de Luxembourg. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  17. ^ (French)"Organisation des communes - Textes Organiques" (PDF). Code administratif Luxembourgeois. Service central de législation. 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  18. ^ "Culture in Luxembourg". 
  19. ^ "Art et Culture", Ville de Luxembourg. (French) Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  20. ^ "Luxembourg and Greater Region, European Capital of Culture 2007". 
  21. ^ "Michelin 2011: 14 stars for 13 restaurants in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg!", ONT Luxembourg. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  22. ^ "Twin Towns in the UK". Dorset Twinning Association. 11 May 2007. Archived from the original on 29 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 

External links

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