Known as the Eisléck or Oesling, the Luxembourg Ardennes are the Grand Duchy's northernmost - and most spectacular - region. Winding valleys, fast-flowing rivers, verdant plateaus and towering castles combine to make the region hugely popular among visitors and residents alike. Of the three main towns, Clervaux is the most accessible, Vianden is the most touristic, and Wiltz ... well, it's very nearby to the hamlet of Esch-sur-Sûre, which attracts a staggering number of visitors solely because of its location.Clervaux has two main sights: its feudal castle, in the town centre, and the turreted Benedictine abbey high in the forest above. The castle houses several exhibits, including Edward Steichen's photography collection, Family of Man. Though it's not much more than a village, Vianden's attractions stack up pretty well in a country this small. Besides the pervasive 9th-century charm, its most noted feature is the central chateau, a photographer's dream. Try to take a peek from the chairlift that climbs the nearby hill between Easter and mid-October. The village's other ace is the former home of then-exiled French author Victor Hugo, who lived here in the 1860s.Built on the side of a small plateau, Wiltz is more spacious but less of a charmer than either of its neighbors. The Ville Haute (High Town) has most of the sights, but the train station is down below in the Ville Basse. South of town, the tiny village of Esch-sur-Sûre perches on a rocky peninsula skirted by the Sûre River and lorded over by steep cliffs and a ruined castle. Don't come here looking for peace and solitude, but come here nonetheless.The E421 heads north out of the capital toward the Ardennes. There are also trains every few hours to Clervaux from Luxembourg City. To get to Wiltz and Esch-sur-Sûre, take the Clervaux train and transfer at Kautenbach. To reach Vianden, take the Ettelbrück train from the capital and transfer to a connecting bus. Buses also run to and from several of the larger towns in the region. None of these trips takes more than an hour and a half.
Perched high on a promontory overlooking the Pétrusse and Alzette Valleys, the Grand Duchy's capital solemnly sits like a thousand-year-old gargoyle. In 963 AD, on a rocky outcrop known as the Bock, Sigefroid, Count of Ardennes, laid the cornerstone of a fortress that would become Luxembourg City. Although Sigefroid's fortress no longer exists - after nine centuries of attacks and occupations, his castle and most of its fortifications were blown up by the townsfolk in the latter half of the 19th century - the views and what little remains of the original structure continue to inspire.Of the fortress' remnants, the labyrinthine casemates are the most impressive to modern visitors. Built in 1644 while the fortress was under Spanish domination, the casemates are a honeycomb of damp chambers and connecting tunnels hewn from the belly of the Bock. Originally 23km (14mi) of subterranean defensive passageways, some as much as 40m (131ft) deep, the casemates were soon the envy of Europe's warmongers - so much so that they earned Luxembourg the nickname 'Gibraltar of the North'. The reputation proved persistent when during WWI and WWII the casemates were used as bomb shelters for 35,000 people. Today, the casemates are listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, and 17km (11mi) of them are open to the public.Winding down from the Bock, the pedestrian promenade known as the Chemin de la Corniche has been called 'Europe's most beautiful balcony'. At its southern base, the Citadelle du St Esprit provides superb panoramas of both the valleys and the Grund, or lower town, a picturesque, cobblestoned quarter that's home to the bulk of the city's meagre nightlife. Just west of the northern end of the Chemin is the Grand Ducal Palace.The city is easily covered on foot. Most of the sights are along the southern rim of the old town, where strollers will also find scores of scenic lookouts and serene parks. Old town is based around two large pedestrian squares, Place d'Armes and Place Guillaume. The city's modern commercial center is across the Pétrusse Valley to the south, connected by two bridges, Pont Adolphe and Pont Passerelle. The Pétrusse and Alzette Rivers meet in the city centre.
Wine tasting is the obvious attraction of the Moselle Valley, and if you like sweet, fruity whites, then the trip is well worthwhile. The valley's Route du Vin, or Wine Road, begins at Waserbillig and follows the Moselle River south through the wine region's capital at Grevenmacher and beyond to the picturesque villages of Wormeldange, Remich and Schengen.The Cellars of Poll-Fabaire in the hillside village of Wormeldange are worth a visit, as are the larger Caves Bernard-Massard in Grevenmacher and St Martin in Remich. All three are open for tours and tippling from late spring to early fall. Each village celebrates nearly all stages of the wine-making process during the festival season from August through November.The beautiful Moselle River, which marks southern Luxembourg's border with Germany, is known to locals as the 'Wine River'. April through September, its waters are plied daily by the MV Princesse Marie-Astrid, a tourist boat that hits all the major sipping-spots from Schengen, at the southernmost tip of Luxembourg, to Bernkastel, Germany.The Moselle Valley begins less than half an hour's drive east of the capital along E44. Trains to Germany stop in Wasserbillig, and buses from the capital run to Grevenmacher with frequent connections to towns in the south.
Müllerthal (Little Switzerland)
This region is where Luxembourgers come to play. Centered around the old Christian town of Echternach, in a pocket of woodland northeast of the capital, the area's hiking, cycling and rock climbing also make it one of the most touristed areas in the country. Head west of town to the walking paths, which wind through rocky chasms and waterfalls to Berdorf, 6km (4mi) away, and on to the crumbling remains of Beaufort castle.If you're in Echternach on Whitsunday (the 7th Sunday after Easter), wave your hankies with the locals celebrating the pageant of St Willibrord, Luxembourg's only saint, who lived in town in the 8th century. His mortal remains now lie in a white marble sarcophagus in the town's basilica. Behind the basilica, there's also an interesting Benedictine abbey.To reach Echternach, take the E29 northeast of the capital about 50km (30mi). The town is on the Sûre River, midway along the German border.
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