Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Luxembourg City - Bock Casemates

Casemates, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. Deep cave systems, defensive. 

Luxembourg City was originally a cliff fortress, then a city behind walls, with the famous "Bock Casemates" at the ravine side, a warren of caves and tunnels. For defense, there is enough room for herds of animals, an army and citizens, plus cannon and storehouses. If you need convincing, go to - a site with highlights of many major European cities. Find the casemates - the cave areas are huge.

The formations that enable the excavation and use of caves, as here, would be excellent geo-tourism sites because of the geological sites and attractions. See book "Geotourism" by Ross Dowling at this site:

See the fortress history at The system of tunnels and caves is known as the Luxembourg Casemates. Find the history of Luxembourg at I understand that Luxembourg was a large geographic area years ago. They simply could not be defeated at the City, with their defenses, and their location was so important for trade. So the other countries diminished them when they could not defeat them - gradually chipping territory away around them by other wars, finally leaving little Luxembourg as it is now. Proud people, their own heritage.

In WWII, the Casemates served as a bomb shelter for - say the guidebooks - some 35,000 people. When you leave, Waterloo is a good destination point back in Belgium, leaving late afternoon the next day.

Diekirche - Military Museum

Large National Museum of Military History in Diekirch. See it at, and at See the exhibits here,

All is not benign.  They also were selling reproductions of American soldier dog tags there - we hope they were only reproductions. Even seeing fakes for sale is unsettling. Families, be prepared.

There is also a General Patton Memorial Museum, see This is open seasonally, July 1-September 15 - now, surely someone can sponsor longer open times. Take up a collection. Patton deserves better. July 1!  We were there in May. Check these dates out, but there is plenty else.


Dan Widing with General Patton, Ettelbruck, Luxembourg
Ettelbruck. The statue of Patton is off to the side, a busy road in front - poor location for parking and seeing. Take the time to see the view he has. He is facing back to Belgium and the Bastogne, binoculars in hand. See

Ettelbruck means "Attila's Bridge" - Attila dealt the final blow to the Roman legions here. Luxembourg: from old German, Lucilinburhuc or "little fortress" - a castle overlooking the Alzetter River. See ://

Do take time to read the history of Luxembourg - its location in the mountains put it at trade crossroads, Paris to Triere, Metz to Aachen, and the surrounding areas were determined to safeguard their economic interests. Charlemagne brought in the Franks, Luxembourg's territory was whittled away until finally nobody could conquer their castle-cave-cliff stronghold. That remained. Read the detailed history at at://

History overview to Battle of the Bulge in Luxembourg - The Grand Duchy

Luxembourg had been within the sovereignty of other nations/ rulers for centuries (Burgundy, Spain even, France, Austria). Its origins go back to "Magdalenian" (what is that?) and Celtic tribes, see :// The Celts fell to Rome in the 1st Century.

1839. The Congress of Vienna granted it Grand Duchy status, and awarded it to the Netherlands, William I of Orange-Nassau, as personal property and that relationship extended until 1890. The Grand Duchy was declared to be perpetually neutral.

1867. Treaty of London affirmed Luxembourg 's "territorial integrity" as a Grand Duchy

1890. The crown of the Duchy passed to the House of Nassau.

World War II. Battle of the Bulge. See the military overview here at :// This is why General Patton is buried in Luxembourg. See posts here on Hamm Military Cemetery.

"Letzebuergesch" - The native language. Germany's policy forbad use of this language during its Occupation, but it now is used freely and with great pride. Many languages now are used, so a knowledge of French or German and English will see any tourist through. See ://

1948. Luxembourg had been occupied by the Germans in both World Wars,. It remains off the usual tourist track. It is now no longer neutral, part of the European Union and other economic and political alliances.

2000. By now, there is a Constitution, Parliament, Cabinet, and His Royal Highness of the Grand Duchy and Executive is the Grand Duke Henri. He and his wife have five children. All this going on with Luxembourg and you and I could not even find it on a map.