The tiny European country of Luxembourg is one of our homeschool countries-of-the-week, so why not spend a few minutes today learning about one of Luxembourg’s World Heritage Sites: the Old Quarters and Fortifications of Luxembourg City.
The Old City of Luxembourg is an important historic district that retains many of the elements of a classic medieval fortified city:
The Old City of Luxembourg is located at the confluence of the Alzette and Pétrusse Rivers, on a very steep rocky outcrop which is somewhat of a natural fortification that only needed to be completed on the west side. Due to its exceptional strategic position, the City of Luxembourg was one of the largest fortresses of modern Europe which was constantly strengthened and reinforced as it passed successively into the hands of the great European powers.
Originally, the City of Luxembourg comprised only a small fort (the castle) built shortly after the middle of the 10th century on an almost inaccessible rock. In the 12th century, the settlement that developed near the castle was protected by a stone fortification wall, which was extended in the 14th and 15th centuries. In 1443, the city was taken by the troops of Burgundy. Through inheritance it passed to the Habsburgs and became Spanish until 1684. During this period, the site was transformed into a veritable fortress. After the conquest by King Louis XIV, Vauban extended and reinforced the fortifications. In the 18th century, the Austrians continued his work and created the “Gibraltar of the North.” After the Congress of Vienna, the Prussians created new military structures until the dismantling was decided in 1867. Following the Treaty of London in 1867, the majority of the fortifications were demolished but many vestiges representative of all these eras remain, of which a number of gates, forts, bastions, redoubts and casemates.
The city also retains the layout of its streets and many public buildings, important testimony of its origins and its development since the 10th century. Inside and at the foot of the ramparts, quarters where people lived and engaged in trades or crafts developed. They also kept places of worship, such as the Church of St. Michel, now a veritable museum of sacred art, or the Church of St. Nicolas, subsequently transferred to the sanctuary of the Jesuits, the present cathedral. The ancient Abbey of Neumünster is a landmark in the borough of Grund. In the Upper Town, in the shadow of the walls, aristocratic families and the major religious communities built their mansions called “shelters” to be close to the administrations and official institutions. The old quarters still bear the imprint of their former inhabitants and their activities.
Despite the dismantling of the fortress, the fortifications and the old quarters, today the city is a historical ensemble of prime importance. It is an outstanding example of a fortified European city and host to an exceptional variety of military vestiges illustrating a long period of Western history. (UNESCO World Heritage Centre #699)
You can find a gallery of additional photos of the Old City of Luxembourg on the World Heritage Centre’s website.
World Heritage Sites are cultural or natural landmarks of international significance, selected for recognition by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. More than 1000 such sites have been recognized in over 160 countries, and we feature one every Wednesday, drawn from one of our homeschool countries-of-the-week. You can find a complete list of World Heritage Sites online at the World Heritage Centre and in Wikipedia.
The World Heritage Centre also has a free and comprehensive World Heritage education kit for teachers, as well as a wonderful full-color wall map of World Heritage Sites, available for the cost of shipping. Why not add them both to your own homeschool library. 🗺
What world treasures will you be exploring in your homeschool this Leo Term? 😊
❡ Books in the running brooks: You can always turn to your River Houses almanac, atlas, and history encyclopedia for more information about any of our countries-of-the-week. The almanac has profiles of all the nations of the world on pages 752–859; the endpapers of the atlas are indexes that will show you where all of the individual national and regional maps may be found; the history encyclopedia includes national histories on pages 489–599; and you can find additional illustrations, flags, and other mentions through the indexes in each of these volumes. For an ideal little lesson, just write the name of the Weekly World Heritage Site on your homeschool bulletin board, find its location in your atlas, read the WHC’s brief description aloud, look at a picture or two, and you’re done. Over the course of the year, without even realizing it, your students will absorb a wealth of new historical, geographical, and cultural information. 🇱🇺
❡ The great globe itself: This is one of our regular Homeschool States & Countries posts featuring historical and natural sites of international importance. Download a copy of our River Houses World Heritage Calendar and follow along with us as we tour the planet, and add your name to our weekly mailing list to get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 🌍