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Published: October 2nd 2019
Mention Luxembourg and what do you think of, exactly, nothing!
Well except the recent gibe at it's Prime Minister by Nigel Farage!, but I digress, unfair really so some investigation needed to see what we really should see and do.
The dog in some way dictates where we can go and for how long. The weather which has now turned a little bit more autumnal helps our first visit to Vianden Castle, where we are able to leave Poppy in Harvey not in fear of her over heating. The first view on the approaching road is quite tantalising so confirms our visit. With origins from the 10th century and a distinctive Romanesque style, with further Gothic trimmings it does make a statement and all so more amazing that in fact is that this castle has been almost completely rebuilt.
In 1820, King William I sold the castle to Wenzel Coster, an alderman, for 3,200 florins. Coster started to demolish the building, selling off the tiles from the roof, the wooden panelling, the doors and the windows piece by piece, soon the castle was a ruin. It was a pile of rubble until the family of the Grand Duke
of Luxembourg transferred it to the State's ownership in 1977, only then did the work really get going with the whole project being finally completed in 1990. Whilst for those real history buffs it may not be authentic it still makes for a very educational visit.
Our campsite for the next two days is in ‘The Mullerthal Region’, remember the dog, well time for a walk, it is one of the most popular hiking regions in Luxembourg. Its landscape is dotted with towering sandstone rock formations and crisscrossed by the rivers that help created it, and have earned the region it’s nickname ‘Little Switzerland’ (doesn’t every country have one of those?!?!) We pick a 10.9km circular and we were advised there are a lot of us and downs, but hey we hike Exmoor!! Well our expectations are truly met with the most breathtakingly impressive terrain, (oh to be a geologist) awe-inspiring vistas and with erosion having formed numerous bizarre shapes and chasms into the rocks you can’t help but stop and admire, we arrive back at the campsite tired but happy. The full 112km trail must be magnificent but it’s time for some city action.
The city names
the country and it's population is swelled by some 200,000 per day who come in daily for work, this is apparent as you drive in past new work towers and a brand new tram system. With the world’s 3rd highest GDP you know we are in a rich country. But for us old Luxembourg calls and one site in particular ‘The Bock Casemates’ called the ‘Gibraltar of the North (now not everyone has one of those!!) The first casemates were built in 1644, under Spanish domination. The enlargement of the 23km long underground galleries took place 40yrs later, eventually being extended over several storeys and galleries carved out to a depth of 40 metres.
Dismantled over 16 years, started in 1867 following centralisation, the length was reduced to 16km. The Casemates have originally been designed as an underground military defence system finally served as a shelter during the two world wars with the capacity to protect some 35,000 people in the event of an alert or bombardment.
Today a UNESCO world heritage site it allows visitors the chance to imagine a unique site which could shelter not only thousands of defenders with their equipment and horses, but also
artillery and weapons, workshops, kitchens, bakeries, slaughterhouses and other infrastructure.
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