Luxembourg oh Luxembourg, how did you surprised me.
I have visited this lovely country in summer. That was my 2nd visit but to be honest the first one doesn’t really count as I was there for one night on the business trip, in my old life.
As you know Things You didn’t Know Series is all about interesting facts and my observations from the countries I travel to. I know you are waiting for Finland, Georgia, Armenia, Nepal and Indonesia. I promise those are coming soon, very soon.
Well aware I have been saying that forever but life is what happens when you are busy making plans :) I have might mention that few times but I’m back for good to this blog, so there will be a new post coming every 2-3 days so stay tuned!
Interesting, funny and quirky facts about Luxembourg.
But let us begin! And I have some real pearls for you in this one. For example, did you know that Henri Tudor from Luxembourg invented acid lead batter?
Or that Luxembourg, one of the smallest countries in Europe has the biggest Television Industry on the whole continent? Or that being late here is worse than being late in Germany?
And I know what you are thinking, what the heck is an acid lead battery? Well, I can explain that to you over the glass of wine or two when our paths will cross and for now, let’s go back to the subject.
1. Castle Lovers Paradise!
For that matter, Luxembourg actually means ‘little castle’ and has most castles per capita in a whole world or 1 for every 100 square miles they say, but let’s be honest who in this world knows what that actually means.
I wanted some data for dummies, like me (I’m not very good with all those pure technical data) and I got it.
In Middle Ages they had 110 castles registered, from which 75 survived to our times, some in ruins, some restored by the state of Luxembourg, some still in private hands.
I have created a list of ‘Most Beautiful Castles of Luxembourg’ so go have a read if you are a castle enthusiast.
And hey they even have a place called ‘Valley of Seven Castles’. On the 37km hike, you can admire 7 castles, so yes you get the point. They have a lot of castles in this country!
2. Only pastel-coloured houses.
Yes, for real, they only have pastel-coloured houses in this country, at least I have seen no buildings in bright colours.
I asked few Luxembourgers about this, but nobody confirmed my suspicion. They told me there are lots of rules and restrictions about house/building construction so I think I’m up to something here!
If you are a Luxembourger or any other nationality but you know for sure that painting houses in pastel colours is a law in Luxembourg and you can prove it, hit me up on my email.
So if you love those Instagram perfect cute cobbled stone streets with pastel houses Luxembourg is your place!
3. The only Grand Duchy in the whole World
And before you start smartassing me, yes I’m well aware that it hasn’t been the only Grand Duchy in the history of the world. There have been duchies of Finland, Lithuania and the grand duchy of Muscovy which became the Russian Empire eventually.
There even have been duchy of Tuscany and duchy of Transylvania, simply the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is the only one still existing.
A grand duchy is a country or territory whose official head of state or ruler is a monarch bearing the title of grand duke or grand duchess.
And let me tell you, Luxembourgers are very proud of that status. I can’t count how many times and on how many different occasions this simple piece of information about political system finds its way to the conversation. But let me tell you, a lot!
But what do I know? I live in a democracy which is quite common in Europe so nothing to brag about haha Luxembourgers are proud people and I like that about them!
4. The language non-issue!
The language issue or actually non-issue is a very interesting part of the culture to observe. Half of the population speaks at least 5 languages, the rest only 4!
People usually speak Luxembourgish and yes it is an official language not some fantasy tongue from the Game of Thrones. It is a West Germanic language since Frankish times, established along the banks of the Moselle.
Luxembourgish is used in pre-school education. Primary education is in German and senior education is in French.
And you guessed it right, many people learn an extra language on top of those three such as English or Dutch. Not that I’m rubbing your nose one-language speakers :)
Luxembourg’s Parliament operates in Luxembourgish, but they argue in French apparently haha Laws are drafted in French, but people are free to use French, German or Luxembourgish when dealing with the officials.
Half of the population of Luxembourg are immigrants, so 5th language is always a mother tongue therefore don’t you worry, they do speak your language there for sure!
5. Grand Duke Birthday is the coolest day ever!
Grand Duke Birthday which is a National Day of Luxembourg is celebrated on 23 June, although this has never been the actual birthday of any ruler.
Yes, you are up for a story here! I loved hearing it and I love telling it because it is a story straight out from a Czech movie, as we Polish say!
So under the William I the date was 24th of April even though his birthdays were on 24th of August. Under William II it was 6th of December – hist actual birthday!
Fun fact: in 1840 when the monarchs changed Luxembourg thrown two parties, one in August and one in December because why not lol
William III set the date to 17th of June, only to change it after a couple of years to 19th of February – two days after his actual birthday. And that is what I call master ninja planning. First, he celebrates himself, gets one day of a hangover rest and then party again! And I thought I’m a Party Girl!
From 1890 monarchs celebrated it on their actual birthdays (how boring after the previous fun decades). In 1947, when the day was declared a national holiday, Luxembourgers got really scared and seriously concerned. The whole country deepened in the black mourning, as both reigning Charlotte and regent Jean were born in January.
The whole country deepened in the black mourning, as both reigning Charlotte and regent Jean were born in January.
National Day Celebration in January? January is a bad weather month. January didn’t work for Luxembourgers but their prayers have been answered and the day was set on 23rd of June so everyone can be happy!
Marysia goes to celebrate Grand Duke Birthday!
I have visited the country around this day with a sole purpose of checking this party out, as many of my friends who live in Luxembourg has been bragging about this day over and over again.
I couldn’t understand why having it in the summer month was so important? In Poland, we celebrate National Day in the nastiest of all months – November, and we are ok with it. But on the other hand, Polish National Day is more of football fans throwing bricks at police so I’m not an expert here!
To get to the point, it was just a great party in the city. Whole Luxembourg City turns into one big bar and a party place. Crowds are on the streets, everyone is happy, proud and slightly dizzy… and then the fireworks come,17-minute show to celebrate the Grand Duke Birthday.
The real party starts after the fireworks! Dj’s and live music shows are set on every possible corner of every square, the city raves till wee hours! And now I think we Polish should switch to summer too, maybe we could think of a bit more happy party Luxembourg-style!
So if you think of coming to Luxembourg for a weekend, do consider 23rd of July!
6. Biggest wine List
This is like the most important piece of information which you can get before visiting Luxembourg if you are a wine lover/an addict like me!
There is this Chiggeri Restaurant which holds the Guinness World record from 2008. The record states 1746 references, not bottles, references.
As soon as I entered the restaurant, I approached the waiter and told him, please watch me, as I may sneak in your cellar and stay there forever. He started laughing and said that many people joke with him like that!
Yeah like I was joking!
7. Eternal love for hopping!
Yes, Luxembourg has a Hopping Procession. It is a lighthearted religious ceremony happening in Echternach on every Whit Tuesday.
Thousands of pilgrims, musicians, abbots and bishops from all over Europe dressed in white shirts and black trousers hop to the polka melody to the crypt of St.Willibrord’s tomb.
Fun Fact: the Catholic Church wasn’t very optimistic about this ceremony and was keen on banning it. The Luxembourgers paid no notice and continued happily hopping until, centuries later, the Church came round to their point of view.
As that is the best example of the national motto which says: “Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sinn” – “We want to remain what we are”.
8. The Casemates
Luxembourg City has 17km of underground tunnels cut out of the solid rock – the Casemates. The tunnels were built 17th and 18th century as a part of city’s defence.
They can protect up to 35 thousand people and were used during both World Wars as a shelter against air raids. Those days tunnels are open to the public and are UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I went to visit this place with Sophie from Solo Sophie Blog on a super hot summer day, we were dying of thirst and this place was a perfect hide out from the sun, if only they had a coffee shop where we could buy water it would be a pure heaven!
They didn’t, but they had the calmest man I have ever met in my life working in the ticket office, who did advise us where is the nearest restaurant so we don’t die in Luxembourg, because nobody wants that, especially him lol
9. The Dutch Flag
Ok, ok, it is not a Dutch flag. Yes, it is red, white and blue but it is a different blue! The Dutch use a sky blue and Luxembourg use ultramarine blue instead.
So if you are a half of population of this world (read you are a man) and you don’t really distinguish different shades of one colour watch out and always check where you are lol
Why the confusion? It is very simple, until 1890, the king of the Netherlands and the grand-duke of Luxembourg was one person and as it seems understanding how important branding is was better than some have today.
10. The Family of Man
Originally opened on 2nd of January, 1955 in MoMA, in NYC. One of the most ambitious photography exhibitions organized by Edward Steichen after travelling the world was permanently placed in Luxembourg and reopened in 1994.
It is one of the biggest and most comprehensive photography exhibitions in the whole world capturing life from birth to death through all its stages, marriage, motherhood, childhood and more.
Edward Steichen was working for Condé Nast, Vogue and Vanity Fair. His photos of gowns for the magazine ‘Art et Décoration’ in 1911 are recognized as first modern fashion photographs.
He was the best-paid photographer of his times, he was a curator at MoMA and it was his wish for ‘Family of Man’ to settle in Luxembourg. And it did.
That is 10 most amusing things about Luxembourg to me. I hope that next time when John Oliver Googles ‘interesting Luxembourg facts’ he will find this article as a number 1 :)
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And do not hesitate to get in touch with me if you have any questions about Luxembourg. More than happy to chat!
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