Forested hills and fairy tale castles are just some of the attractions of Luxembourg’s Ardennes region. The Monkey also found a historic photo exhibition and reminders of the horror of war.
In northern Luxembourg, the Monkey dropped in on the gorgeous little town of Vianden. The hills of the Ardennes give the town an interesting topography, while the River Our—along with its hilltop castle—gives it a focal point. Here, the Monkey rests in a flowerpot along Vianden’s riverwalk. French novelist Victor Hugo lived in a house at the right end of the bridge in the background for most of the 1860s. His house has now been converted into a museum.
The Monkey saw his fair share of castles in Luxembourg. Here, he poses on a bench with the splendid backdrop of Vianden’s 11th through 14th Century castle, recently restored and the pride of the people of Vianden. See the photo below for more on Vianden.
In the lush forests of the Ardennes in northern Luxembourg, the Monkey was pleased to encounter the charming medieval hamlet of Clervaux. Behind him is Clervaux’s hilltop castle, work on which began in the 12th Century, with many enhancements in the 15th and 16th Centuries. During the Battle of the Bulge (see the photo below) the castle was ruined by German soldiers who set fire to it trying to smoke out U.S troops fighting from within it.
After World War II, the state acquired and restored the castle. Today it serves a variety of purposes, but is most famous for housing the photographic exhibit “The Family of Man.” Curated by U.S. photographer Edward Steichen, the collection of 503 photos from 68 countries was originally shown at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1955. Steichen, whose family hailed from Luxembourg, requested that the exhibit be put on permanent display in Luxembourg after its world tour, and that’s how this global project ended up in tiny Clervaux.
In Clervaux the Monkey sits atop a U.S. tank, a remnant of and memorial to the largest land battle of World War II, the Battle of the Bulge. In December 1944, with the Soviets squeezing Nazi Germany from the east and the British, U.S., and French forces pushing from the west, an increasingly desperate Hitler opted for a counter-offensive against a weak spot in the Allied lines. He chose the forests of the Ardennes region of Belgium and Luxembourg, where the Allies had 83,000 men compared to the Nazis’ 275,000 troops. Rolling under cover of dense fog, the Nazis surged westward, creating a “bulge” in the Allied lines. The Allies countered by maneuvering over 650,000 troops into the region to meet the reinforced Nazi forces numbering some 500,000. 43 days later, after more than 19,000 Allied deaths and 30,000 German deaths, the Germans retreated and the original lines were restored. Today there is a statue in Clervaux commemorating the Allied soldiers who pushed back the Nazi advance.
At the top of a winding cobblestone lane, the Monkey found this lovely twin-spired church. It was built from 1910 to 1912. Along with the towers of the castle, the church and the nearby abbey dominate Clervaux’s quaint skyline.
Commanding stellar views of the Sûre River in north-central Luxembourg, Bourscheid Castle dates from the 11th Century when its stone walls replaced earlier wooden fortifications. Considerably expanded from 1350 to 1384, the castle eventually boasted 11 defensive towers and walls surrounding an upper and lower castle, and ruled over much of the surrounding lands. In the early 18th Century, the castle fell into disuse, but the Luxembourg state intervened in the 1970s, acquiring the castle and beginning quite successful restorations. Today, Bourscheid Castle is a quiet, captivating place to reflect on the feudal past of this area of Europe.
So you’ve never heard of Luxembourgish wine? That may be because the locals’ drinking habits are absorbing just about the entire supply. According to 2000 data from the Wine Institute, Luxembourg’s per capita consumption of wine was the highest in the world, at 63.3 liters per annum per (mostly drinking age) person. Old favorites France and Italy were next, at 58.2 and 53.4 liters respectively. Tiny Luxembourg routinely tops the list of wine-consuming populations.
Luxembourg’s wines are similar to those of the nearby Mosel district in western Germany. Here the Monkey inspects some vines in Grevenmacher, capital of Luxembourg’s Moselle region, but he arrived a bit early for the harvest. (Note: Grevenmacher isn’t in Luxembourg’s Ardennes region like the other photos on this page.)
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