In the Further Ardenne: A Study of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg,|
by Thomas Henry Passmore, 1905, p.136-150:
Luxembourg City, c.1905
THE CITY AND THE TOWN
THIS city Luxembourg is absolutely sui generis [unique]. I rank it among the most strikingly-picturesque cities. Ransack it, read its runes or history, written over one another in unbroken series, as the geologist reads the strata of the rock-beds, and it grows into an enchantment.
The town may be roughly sketched as a flattened "S", the one great valley-wriggle of the Alzette on its straight way northward to the Sûre [Sauer]. Into the lower shoulder of this figure runs the tiny brook Petrusse, Petrosa; a mere thread of silver water, but ravelled in a ravine as steep and stony as the other; once, strong locks menaced both streams, to make of their vales great lakes in time of siege. Upon this coil of tangled abysses, here rugged and bare, here green and flower-renitent, here clothed still with the old massy stone-aprons of war-days, abutting with pointed towers or gaping with dark loopholes, lies scattered and vast a city unlike to any other in the world.
To the west lies the high town, to the east this low town with its Himalaya-mazes spanned by that imperious curving procession of air-drawn bridges which cross the field of vision every way and set seal of character on all. Luxembourg was once redans and ravelins, battlements, mantlets, moles, and barbicans; now it is bridges.
It was by this deep and complex ravine of Petrusse and Alzette, embracing Luxembourg on three sides, that nature throned the fortress above its peers; the western side, art sealed with fosses, with monster walls, with redoubts and bastions defiant and interminable. Until this strong world was made chaos the fortifications, with their feudal, Spanish, French, Austrian and German layers, rose so high that not a house was to be seen.
Now, the trenches are filled up, the triple cincture of walls thrown down, the scarps and counterscarps, the gardes and contregardes supplanted by sylvan parks and happy habitations of peace; the immense stone casings, which mended the least gap or irregularity in the rocky precipices and made them unscaleable as ice or glass, are gone save here and there, and soft masses of trees or smiling gardens mask the hill-brows whence of old cannon scowled or picket marched woodenly to and fro.
To destroy these great wide works entirely has proved impossible ; their remnants still rise grim and monumental about the tumbled city, like ghosts of tombs. The tattered coat of mail is falling slowly into fragments, the subterranean labyrinths that wedded battery and mine forgotten, but nothing can disguise the wild and rugged mood of nature in the old domain of Siegfried.
A modern town has risen upon the ruins of Mars' armoury, but that town straggles on a foundation as savage and as grandiose as the Müllerthal [a large beech forest in eastern Luxembourg]. In the low Grund, where the rivers join, the streets are beetling, narrow and sinuous, the houses dark, old, and decrepit, many standing in the very water, some decked with battered, aged figures in relief ; in the high town are buildings eloquent of Spanish and Austrian glories. Half city half canyon, part grimace, part garden, never was town more difficult to frame in one thought. Vary your point of view, you may have twenty Luxembourgs. It is not a town, it is a tour. "Je suis chasseur de points de vue", remarked a French artist-friend to me ; "et dans ce Luxembourg ce sont inepuisables."
Most of those who are at the pains to visit the place for its own sake will start from the abominable and porterless station and content themselves with an afternoon's drive round the skull-shaped ramparts which girdle the upper town. But to him who will stay and ramble a week there is no end of curious beauties, of little scenic and antique discoveries, of nooks and groupings and surprises; everywhere are roses, roses, the flower of Luxembourg; and night brings her own peculiar graces, when the maze of ravines that entrench the city lies in glimmering darkness, and the lights twinkle from cliff to cliff across the beautiful valley of the Pfaffenthal [Pafendall, a quarter in central Luxembourg City] or cluster starlike about the depths of Grund and Clausen [another quarter in central Luxembourg City], answering to their image in the steely silent stream.
Here, on the banks of Alzette, are the little house and terraced garden where once Goethe lived. Let me translate his words, written three years before the French Revolution came to break the peace he pictures:
"Nothing can wear a face more bizarre than these narrow river-valleys, serpentining between chains of bastions, redoubts, and demies-lunes, an inextricable multitude of fortifications scarce equalled in the history of defence, stretching far out of sight. Here is union of grandeur with grace, of gravity with beauty, such as only a Poussin could reproduce...|
The parents of my merry guide possessed in the Pfaffenthal a pretty, sloping garden, which they cordially gave me for my use. Near by, the church and cloister justified the name, Monks' Vale; a pledge of peace and rest to the peasant people, though each glance cast upwards recalls war, violence, and ruin...
I spent many days in these labyrinths, where art conspires with living rock to cast defiance every way amid the medley of fantastic defiles and softest foliage ; explored all in solitude, pensive, wondering ; returned to record the pictures printed in my mind. Imperfect as they were, they have served to fix the memory of a scene which resembles nothing but itself."
So looked Luxembourg; called by Carnot "la plus forte place de l' Europe après Gibraltar; le seul point d'appui pour attaquer la France du côtè de la Moselle."
Of the ancient Palladium of Luxembourg, the fay-haunted Bock with its hollow heart, I must speak a more particular word. The S-shaped town is cloven right across, in a perfect arc, by the railway in a range of four magnificent bridges which span the river thrice. Of these bridges the two midmost are one, leaping in tall slender arches that broad loop of the Alzette which cradles all that is oldest.
Across the valley, at the foot of the towering viaduct and side by side with it, runs the little old stone bridge, a giant's off-thrown shoe. The storied Bock, a long black crag which juts out into the loop eastward from the high town, bears the ruins of the castles of Siegfried and John of Bohemia [John the Blind].
The former, an outpost of Gallienus, gave its ancient name to the whole abyss of abodes around. Many are the guesses at the name's pedigree: Lucis Burgum, because Apollo was worshipped there, as Arlon, Ara Lunae, for Diana; Lucilii Burgum, after a Lucilius, Roman occupant of the fortress; Lætorum Burgum, after a Celtic tribe; Elsen-(Alzette) Burg; and Melusinenburg. The likeliest origin is Liitzel Burg, Little Castle; the name has been spelt in countless ways; the natives call it Letzelburech.
The Bock crag runs out at right angles to the bridges in the centre of the ravine, the river doubling widely round it; the rock is hollow, a rugged monster full of great eyes along its sides, the rough dark windows of the casemates or chambers which honeycomb its whole length ; they once bristled with cannon. This historied rock is called by the natives Huolen Zant, Hollow Tooth. Half-way down the rock is the ivied, broken tower, all that remains of Siegfried.
On the great arches of the bridge that joins the Bock to the upper town — the root of the tongue which the high town puts out into the low — fairy Melusina, the valley's pride and glory, is sometimes seen with the golden key in her mouth, the symbol of her guardianship.
Around the old rock cluster legends numberless; Melusina figures always, bound up with the kindly river Alzette, her mystic home and probably her truest interpretation.
Among the gardens of the valley of the Petrusse, at foot of its tremendous viaduct, stands the Chapel of St. Quirinus. It is a little natural grotto in the rock, or hollowed out about the commencement of the third century; a belfry above it enshrines a Calvary, a carven rock-pulpit stands outside and dominates the valley ; the façade with its slender windows has the legend graven,
L. V. ac. I° + VI
that is, Anno Domini 1355 ac Innocentio Sexto.
On the lintel of the door is the Cross of the Teutonic Order, whose chevaliers set it there. From the door a rock-cut path leads to the Fount of St. Quirinus, shrined and adorned; another chapel near contains an old carved wooden group, three virgins seated on a mule, the central figure wearing a bandage on her eyes. These, as at Vianden and Trois Vierges, are the three Hecates, Trivia, Triceps, and Tergemina; or the three Norns; or the three Christian Graces. A round rock-cavity in the old chapel, with a gutter leading to a square hewn basin, served once for sacrificial altar and blood-conduit.
This claims to be the country's oldest sanctuary. To St. Quirinus' Spring since the tenth century have come pilgrims, every Fourth Sunday after Easter, drinking of the water and bathing eyes therein with mass and prayer, and hearing sermon from the pulpit in the rock. The stone frontal of the altar is as old as the pilgrimage. I ponder amid these rocky walls with their warm and velvety tints, their pied greys and russets and fawns and olives, by the clear stream-side, upon the rites, strange and dark, which here had place in the sacred wood that shaded this spot before the coming of the Saints; when of a sudden the sweet sound of the bell stirs me, and looking through the rusty bars of the screen into the chapel's darkness, 1 see by the quivering light of tapers the people prone upon the earth, an aged priest uplifting the Host above his head. In this Catacomb of "Sanct Grein" the pure Victim has prevailed.
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The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a landlocked country, bordered by Germany, France, and Belgium. The capital is Luxembourg. One of the world's smallest nations, The area of Luxembourg is 998 square miles (2,586 square km). The estimated population of Luxembourg in July, 2008 was 486,006. The official languages are Luxembourgish (a Germanic language), French and German.
Founded in 963, Luxembourg became a grand duchy in 1815 and an independent state under the Netherlands. It lost more than half of its territory to Belgium in 1839, but gained a larger measure of autonomy. Full independence was attained in 1867.
Overrun by Germany in both World Wars, it ended its neutrality in 1948 when it entered into the Benelux Customs Union and when it joined NATO the following year.
In 1957, Luxembourg became one of the six founding countries of the European Economic Community (later the European Union), and in 1999 it joined the euro currency area.
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The Land of Haunted Castles Casey 1921
Luxembourg and Her Neighbours Putnam 1918
In Further Ardenne: ...Luxembourg Passmore 1905
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