The oldest town in Luxembourg

echternach, luxembourg, oldest city in luxembourg

The oldest town in Luxembourg

  |   22 Comments

This is the website of travel writer, Michael Turtle. After working in broadcast journalism for a decade in Australia, Michael left Sydney to travel the world indefinitely and write about his discoveries.

Echternach, Luxembourg

As I made my way across Luxembourg, walking the entire country from north to south, I had a chance to see the variety it has to offer. The capital (as you might expect) has a modern feel in some of the more commercial regions. But here in Echternach, just thirty kilometres away, you can get the best sense of the history of Luxembourg from the country’s oldest town.

The woman in the photo below is walking down the side of the Echternach Abbey towards the stairs which lead to the crypt. The sun shines through the stain-glassed window and is caught on the stone tiled ground… right on to the spot where the town was founded. The first abbey opened here in the year 700 and it was that which brought people to settle here on the bank of the Sauer River.

echternach, luxembourg, oldest city in luxembourg

The original church was lost in time and the building that stands here today is just the latest in a series of churches which have been built (and then destroyed). The current one was constructed in 1953.

echternach, luxembourg, oldest city in luxembourg

Although the lights inside the church glisten with colour and energise the bland walls and floor, there’s a dullness to the sky outside today. Still, you can’t easily darken the intricate and beautiful details of the design and architecture of Echternach. In the historic part of the town, where I took all these photos, you can see the Baroque style in many of the buildings.

This is the outside of the church, officially known as the Basilica of St Willibrord, which is considered to be the most important religious building in the country.

echternach, luxembourg, oldest city in luxembourg

And just next door is the old abbey, which is used these days as a high school and has a small (and rather unimpressive) museum in the basement.

echternach, luxembourg, oldest city in luxembourg

The courtyard around the abbey is protected by these wings.

echternach, luxembourg, oldest city in luxembourg

And just over the road is a garden called the ‘Orangery’. It was built in the 1700s and, at the peak, had more than 400 fruit trees in it.

echternach, luxembourg, oldest city in luxembourg

Looking back towards the basilica from the Orangery, you can appreciate the careful attention given to the landscaping by architect Leopold Durand – including the central water basin.

echternach, luxembourg, oldest city in luxembourg

Some statues remain in the Orangery – these feet give away just a few inches. At one point, though, there were a lot more all through the garden and towards the abbey. They seem to have just disappeared.

echternach, luxembourg, oldest city in luxembourg

And finally, just across from the church, is a quaint authentic Luxembourg cafe. A perfect place to rest and have a coffee before we continue on the march across the country.

echternach, luxembourg, oldest city in luxembourg

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22 Comments
  • Vera | Dec 12, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    For some reason Echternach sounds to me vaguely like the name of a cheese – so I’m already sold. But also I love all these buildings! It seems to be a good town to wander around in – manageable, too. And all the pictures are really good, despite the “dullness to the sky”:) Cool post!
    Vera recently posted..Visiting the hill tribes of Doi InthanonMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Dec 13, 2012 at 11:16 am

      Ha ha. Would you like another slice of Echternach? Hmmm… it works, now you mention it. This could be our grand retirement plan. We will buy a dairy in Luxembourg and make a new type of cheese? Nein?

  • Jennifer | Dec 12, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Wow, the sun shining through the stained glass and creating that light is just absolutely gorgeous!
    Jennifer recently posted..Dubai Marina by Night (Or That Night We Entertained Construction Workers)My Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Dec 13, 2012 at 11:18 am

      I would love to say that it was a very clever intentional shot and not just a lucky accident :)

  • Sarah | Dec 12, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    Nice post! I should definitely do a trip to luxembourg. Perfect distance weekendtrip distance from cologne:-)
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    • Michael Turtle | Dec 13, 2012 at 11:19 am

      I don’t think you would regret a trip there. Especially in the spring, perhaps. If you make a weekend of it, you could go for a long hike through some of the more interesting areas in the east of the country.

  • D.J. - The World of Deej | Dec 13, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Really enjoying your posts from Luxembourg, a country that until now I knew very little about…
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..Holidays at The Biltmore Estate GiveawayMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Dec 17, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      Thanks, mate. It’s not a particularly complicated country, I don’t think. But it’s not one that most people have ever given much thought to…

  • Lillie - @WorldLillie | Dec 14, 2012 at 11:13 am

    That photo of the stained glass rainbow on the floor is stunning!
    Lillie – @WorldLillie recently posted..5 Things To Do Before India Travel. (We Go in 2 Weeks!)My Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Dec 17, 2012 at 9:00 pm

      It was incredible the way the light was just falling like that. Very lucky shot!

  • Stephanie - The Travel Chica | Dec 16, 2012 at 3:12 am

    Great photos. You really captured the town’s charm.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Living like a local in NYC… the good and the badMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Dec 17, 2012 at 9:10 pm

      Thanks. It was a very cute little place.

  • Sara @ Off The Map Travels | Dec 16, 2012 at 3:26 am

    great photos of the small town! Echternach also makes for a great base for hikes and mountain biking just few minutes in to Germany.
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    • Michael Turtle | Dec 17, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      So close to Germany! I love the location of Luxembourg with access to so much of Europe.

      • Sara @ Off The Map Travels | Dec 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm

        I had biked into Germany from Echternach without realizing it until I crossed the border back into Luxembourg. Quite weird for me, as an American, to be able to cross a country border without border control or some sort.
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        • Michael Turtle | Jan 1, 2013 at 2:04 pm

          I find that (as an Australian) very weird too. We don’t have any borders at all back home! I always enjoyed walking down a river in Europe knowing that it was a different country on the other side. Hike through Luxembourg and stare at Germany as you do it. Quite cool!

  • A Montrealer Abroad (@amontrealer) | Dec 18, 2012 at 4:18 am

    Nice job capturing the essence of the city despite the rather overcast weather :)

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 1, 2013 at 1:55 pm

      It does help when the city is so pretty already. I find Europe and the weather to be quite interesting – there are a lot of dreary days (even in summer) but the cities and the countryside can always come alive.

  • The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) | Dec 18, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    I’ve never been to Luxemburg, but I’ve actually heard people are really impressed by it. This makes me want to go there even more!
    The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) recently posted..Why my fear of spiders kept me from exploring Belize’s ATM CaveMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 1, 2013 at 1:59 pm

      It’s the kind of place that you can pop in to for the day, for a couple of days, or even for a week or more. It’s a really cute country and it’s worth taking the time to see a few different things if possible. I get the feeling many people just see the capital or one of the smaller places.

  • Glenn Rossi | Feb 4, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Michael,
    Very beautiful photos in all your travels through Luxembourg!
    Thanks,
    Glenn Rossi
    Twitter: @GoGlennR

    • Michael Turtle | Feb 10, 2014 at 5:01 pm

      You’re welcome. I’m sure you’ll get some great ones on your trip too. It will be nice and warm if you’re there in July so perfect for some photography.

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