Introducing Luxembourg

Luxembourg © Wolfgang Staudt

It is easy to overlook the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg when planning a tour of Europe, dwarfed as it is by its neighbours France, Germany and Belgium. In the global imagination Luxembourg features vaguely as a country known for important banking institutions and European Union bureaucrats. However, this little country is located at the crossroads of several major European highways, and if you have reason to travel through it, don't hesitate to stop awhile and probe behind the glass office blocks and official buildings to find a land of fascinating medieval fortresses, rolling woodlands, sun-drenched castles, and quaint villages.

The entire country is only 51 miles (85km) long and 32 miles (52km) wide, but there is a lot in this small package. The Ardennes region is hilly, densely forested and dotted with medieval castles, best known for being the site of the World War II Battle of the Bulge. The Mullerthal area is great for hiking, with a landscape of curious sandstone rock formations, waterfalls and forest. The Moselle wine-growing region is picturesque and famed for its white wines. Luxembourg City has grown up around an ancient fortified citadel in a setting that is unique and strangely beautiful. As if that were not enough to attract attention, bear in mind that the Grand Duchy also has a booming fine-dining scene, including a number of prestigious Michelin-starred restaurants.

Luxembourg's long history is concerned mainly with warding off and withstanding invasion, occupation and siege, which is perhaps why its people seem a little more conservative than their neighbours, with a national motto that reads: 'We want to remain what we are'. For travellers, the advantage of this stoic traditionalism is the country's dedication to preserving history and culture, and the many traditional parades and festivals to attend.

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