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The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a charming small country in the heart of Europe, tucked between Belgium, Germany and France. It has a surface area of 2,587 square kilometers, with a population of more than 500,000 inhabitants. Luxembourgers are trilingual: they speak Lëtzebuergesch (the national language), French and German; most of them master English well. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg enjoys a temperate climate without extremes.
The millennial capital of the Grand Duchy, with its fortifications and the old historic town enjoys worldwide fame.
The valley of the “Luxembourg Moselle” between Schengen and Wasserbillig is before anything else the vineyard of the Grand Duchy.
The romantic “Mëllerdall”, a small delightful region in the east of the country, fascinates by its bizarre sandstone rock formations and creeks of unknown springs in the midst of deep forests.
The uneven landscape of the “Eisléck”, large woods with impressive feudal castles and the Upper Sûre Lake are the charms of the northern part of the country.
The landscape of the “Minett”, the red lands in the south-west, is strewn with red rocks and the landmarks of a once flourishing iron and steel industry.
It was only with the rise of the steel-industry at the beginning of this century that Luxembourg started to become the highly industrialized country it is today. Due to its political stability and liberal tax laws, Luxembourg developed into a financial capital in the European high finance. Luxembourg is a founding member of the EU and NATO and the smallest member state in the UN. Robert Schumann, considered as one of the “fathers of foundation” of the European Economic Community, was born in Luxembourg in 1886. A host of European institutions have settled in Luxembourg the European Court of Justice, the General Secretariat of the European Parliament, the European Bank of Investment and several Directorates of the European Commission.
The name of Luxembourg goes back to the year 963, when Count Siegfried came into possession of (Castellum) Lucilinburhuc, the little castle high on the rocks of the present capital, situated at the intersection of an ancient Roman road crossing. On the rocky promontory called the Bock, Siegfried proceeded to build a fortified castle, which was to give birth to a town, a country and a dynasty.
In the course of the centuries, the borough expanded and the castle developed into a formidable fortress. Several ring walls and strong fortifications with numerous tower-gates were added and narrow subterranean tunnels were cut deep in the rock, totaling some 20 kilometers in length, the famous Casemates.
Luxembourg was more than once courted and disputed for its central location and its fortress. From 1443 to 1815, the Duchy successively passed into hands of the House of Burgundy, the Spanish, the French and the Austrians, returning to the French.
The Maréchal de Vauban, the greatest French military engineer, enlarged the defense work so as to create one of the most powerful fortresses of Europe, known by the name of “Gibraltar of the North”.
Luxembourg regained its national independence in 1815 when the Congress of Vienna settled the destiny of the country, by raising it to the rank of Grand Duchy and by giving it as personal property to the King William I of the Low Countries. The Treaty of London signed in 1867 declared the perpetual neutrality of the Grand Duchy.
Since 1890, the Grand Duchy has had its own national dynasty. The present ruler, H.R.H Grand Duke Henri, succeeded his father, Grand Duke Jean, on the throne in 2000 and heads an independent sovereign State, forming a constitutional monarchy.
The Bock outcrop was not just the stage for war- like clashes. The most popular Luxembourg saga was also played out there. Count Siegfried, the founder of the city, had promised his wife Melusina that he would never observe her while she bathed. On the one occasion when he did this, secretly, he was horrified to discover that his beloved had the tail of a fish. There upon the water-nymph disappeared beneath the waves of the Alzette, whence today she still awaits her deliverance.