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Published: February 17th 2022
The Three Acorns
The Three Acorns at Fort Thüngen, Luxembourg. (Trois glands or Drei Eicheln.) Built during the Prussian garrisoning of Luxembourg ca. 1826. The three towers were all that remained of the fort following demolition after the 1867 Treaty of London. Note the acorn on top of each tower.
A visit to Luxembourg was the prelude to seeing Germany, Austria, Italy, and France in summer 1970. At that time, the cool way to travel from the USA to Europe was via Loftleidir Icelandic Airlines. Loftleidir flew from New York to Reykjavík and then on to Luxembourg, offering pioneering discount transatlantic airfares. Traveling this way, a one-night, one-day stopover visit to Iceland was added as a bonus and Luxembourg became the first country one encountered on the continent.
We indeed had spent a day in Reykjavík to see the city, the geysers, and wooden churches in the countryside. And a bit of flightseeing. Then it was on to the Continent the following day, with the first stop Luxembourg--another definite bonus. I'd first known about Luxembourg through reading the book Five Little Countries of Europe. It was a charming mix of French and German cultural influences.
The Bock Casemates were the first sightseeing stop. The casemates were a most interesting series of fortified tunnels to explore. The Bock fortress has its beginnings in the 10th century. A fortified castle was built on the Bock promontory overlooking the Alzette River valley and what is now Ville Haute, the old upper city.
Casemates du Bock
Bock Casemates overlooking the Rue Sosthène Weis.
As fortunes changed and Luxembourg changed hands, the fortifications were expanded. The casemates themselves the gun emplacements, were begun in 1644 and expanded by the French under Vaubaun in the 1680s. They were ordered to be dismantled under the Treaty of London of 1867. But they were so large that sections remained. We were able to go inside the fortifications and walk the warren of tunnels linking gun ports overlooking the valley below. Further morning sightseeing included the Haute Ville with Place Guillame II square and statue of William II, the Grand Ducal Palace and the Passerelle railway viaduct over the Petrusse valley.
The afternoon was a period free time, which I used to walk around Ville de Luxembourg, the newer city. I found myself in front of the National Library. I went in to see what exhibits it might have. I quickly discovered that, unlike the Library of Congress or the British Library, Bibliothèque nationale du Luxembourg was principally just that, a working public library. A man and a woman approached and asked what I wanted. There weren't too many library users there, so maybe they were happy to have someone come in! I tried to explain in
Gun Emplacement, Casemates du Bock. IMG00300p1
English and some college French that I wanted to look around and see any exhibits. They directed me into a smaller reading room lined with glass fronted bookcases. They disappeared for a time, so I looked around the room, noting the leatherbound books in the cases, mostly in French. After a while, the man and woman came back (they seemed to always be together). They gave me a small softbound book in French on the history of the National Library. I guess they had gone to find something for their visitor. How very nice! I sensed the visit was over, so I thanked them and left. As I walked down the street, I happened to turn back to see the pair looking at me from a second floor window! I suppose I was the most unusual visitor they had that day! Maybe I became part of the library's lore.
Along the way was a building known as Villa Louvigny. It housed the headquarters of Radio Luxembourg, a broadcasting entity famous all over Europe. Before the deregulation of state-run broadcasting in Europe, Radio Luxembourg was the only station to play a continuous Top-40 format. The radio station was wildly popular
Casemate du Bock
Interior stairway, Casemates du Bock. IMG00307
at that time. (Susan, who was then living in Munich, would many years later tell me that all the American teens listened to the station and would talk about the music Radio Luxembourg was playing.) I could see the popularity then, as throughout Germany and Austria one would frequently see orange "Gute Fahrt mit Radio Luxembourg" flower stickers on cars.
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