The tiny country of Luxembourg is so small that maps of Europe can only fit the abbreviation LUX within its borders.
Created as a duchy in 1354, its ownership changed hands consecutively between Burgundy, Spain, Austria and France; causing Luxembourg City’s now non-existent fortress to be besieged, razed and rebuilt 20 times in 400 years.
Luxembourg’s declaration of independence in 1815 was internationally recognised in 1867. At that the same time it stated a policy of neutrality, which was abandoned after invasion by Hitler’s Germany.
After the war Luxembourg took a prime role in world and European affairs as a founding member of the United Nations, NATO and the European Union.
Its full name, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg stems from its status a constitutional monarchy presided over by a Grand Duke.
Despite Luxembourg’s total area of only 2600km²; its low population of 468, 000 means that it has plenty of green space. Its countryside is a vista of tree-covered hills and valleys, whose north-eastern reaches are often referred to as 'Little Switzerland'.
Tourists to Luxembourg enjoy its cheap prices, which remain low despite the very high standard of living enjoyed by the country’s citizens. Favourable banking and taxation laws have made the country a haven for the world’s rich.
Luxembourg’s three official languages are French, German and the national dialect of Luxembourgish. French is the language of government, while entertainment like television and films will mainly be in German, which is also the language used by the Catholic Church of Luxembourg.
Luxembourg’s citizens usually speak in Luxembourgish which is similar to German; but will generally write in French or German, which are both considered more important than the national language at school. In addition to these three languages, Luxembourg’s children will also be taught English from an early age, meaning most of the population can speak it proficiently.
The Euro was adopted by Luxembourg as its official monetary unit in January 2002.
Being a landlocked country, Luxembourg has a standard continental climate. It enjoys mild winters with the temperatures usually a little above zero and cool summers with average temperatures of around 23°C. Diminutive Luxembourg has a fairly standard climate for a landlocked Central European country.
As the meeting point of Latin and Germanic cultures, Luxembourg has been heavily influenced by their architectural styles and boasts many fine examples of Art Nouveau and Bauhaus buildings in particular.
Luxembourg’s romantic old town is on the UNESCO world heritage list, giving protection to its Casemates, which are massive stone walls sheltering a maze of 15th century tunnels.
One of Luxembourg City’s major attractions is the magnificent Ducal Palace, along with the Notre-Dame cathedral and the National Museum of History and Art.
Outside the capital among Luxembourg’s high hills and dramatic gorges, there are many postcard villages, where folk traditions are maintained with pride. Their whitewash stone houses usually surround a medieval church or castle.
Luxembourg City has four main shopping streets and in addition the old town contains, high-end jewellers, designer boutiques, art galleries and a bi-weekly flea-market at the Place d'Armes.
The low prices of cigarettes and alcohol in Luxembourg also draw shoppers from its neighbouring countries; while long-distance lorry drivers detour through the Duchy to take advantage of its low petrol prices.
The renowned Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra plays in Luxembourg City’s futuristic concert hall; while plays are performed in its equally impressive theatre house.
Luxemburg City is fairly quiet and not noted for raucous nightlife. Its bars are diversely spread throughout the city and not focused on a particular area, although the Place d'Armes has its fair share. There are also several nightclubs in the city.
Luxembourg's road infrastructure is well-developed and it has a good network of motorways where the speed limit is 130km/h, or 110km/h in the rain. The limit for towns and villages is 50km/h and like on the motorways this is enforced by random police checks.
The drink drive limit in Luxembourg is 0.8mg of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, the same as the UK. Bans can last from one day, to three years.
Food and Drink
Luxembourg has a very large number of restaurants serving all manner of international cuisine at prices ranging between €4 and €40 per dish. Around the Place d'Armes in the old town, there are many Belgian and German influenced restaurants popular with tourists; while the Hollerich district contains more expensive eateries catering to the large number of business and diplomatic visitors to the Duchy.
The banks of the River Alzette are also the splendid setting for many restaurants. French fare features fairly prominently on most restaurant menus, particularly dishes containing game and freshwater fish, as does Luxembourg’s national dish of smoked neck of pork with broad beans.
Luxembourg City Tourist OfficePlace d'Armes, P.O. Box 181L-2011 LuxembourgTel.: (+352) 22 28 09Fax: (+352) 46 70 firstname.lastname@example.org