Advanced search

Ankara > News > Beyond The Cream-Colored Walls Of The Palace >

Beyond The Cream-Colored Walls Of The Palace

Published Wednesday October 21 2015

The Embassy of Luxembourg in Ankara is pleased to share with you the article “Beyond The Cream-Colored Walls Of The Palace” by Sara Chare, with a selection of photographs by Murat Gür, published in the September 2015 issue of Turkish Airlines’ Skylife Business magazine:

...Sitting on the terrace of the Chocolate House, I plunge the hunk of ginger sweetness on a stick into the large mug of warm milk in front of me, and stir it slowly. It begins to melt and gradually turns into a tempting hot chocolate. While this is happening, I watch a soldier leave the comfort of his sentry box outside the Royal Palace and march smartly up and down, and catch sight of a couple of Luxembourgers on the street who greet each other with a handshake and a hearty “Moien”. My gaze is, however, pulled back to the 16th-century palace, which despite being small in size and a stone’s throw from many bustling restaurants, still retains its fairy-tale appearance with cream-colored stone, turrets topped with spires and an iron gate that bears the Luxembourg coat of arms: a crown with a red lion on a background of blue and white.

t’s soon time to head to the Musée d’Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg to learn more about this captivating city and its complicated history. After taking in the five floors of exhibits at a leisurely pace, and finding out about the foundation of Luxembourg City in AD963 and the oft-invaded country that grew up around it, my stomach is beginning to growl. Walking from the cobbled rue du Saint-Esprit towards the Grand Rue, I notice street-front tables filling with people, many in their business suits, as workers take advantage of the autumn sunshine. One of the city’s main shopping streets, the Grand Rue is lined with designer clothes boutiques and high-end jewellers, alongside the occasional more affordable shop. What I am searching out though is Oberweis, where I’ve been told the daily lunch specials are very tasty. Sitting amid tourists and Luxembourgish people lunching with their friends, I tuck into grilled lamb chops with rosemary and finish with a decadent and almost-too-pretty-to-eat chocolate and raspberry cake.

Now that I understand more about how Luxembourg came to be known as the Gibraltar of the North, and was one of the largest fortresses of Europe, I want to see some of the fortifications and so stroll over to the Bock casemates on the Montée de Clausen. This maze of narrow rock passageways was built in the 17th century to try and defend the city against invaders, and sections were later used as bomb shelters for thousands of civilians. As I explore the cool, damp tunnels and peer out of the narrow openings at the gardens of the Pétrusse Valley below, I can’t help thinking about the many people who trod these dirt floors all those years ago, until I am yanked back from my reverie by children racing past, their calls to each other bouncing off the walls.

Relieved to be back in the open air again, I join other camera-wielding visitors on the pedestrian Chemin de la Corniche to enjoy the picture-postcard views, before arriving back near the museum where my journey through Luxembourg’s history started. A very utilitarian elevator that reminds me of multi-storey car parks takes me down through the cliff to the Grund, and when I reach the bottom my expectations do not rise as I make my way through a cold, graffiti-covered concrete corridor. However, once I’m outside I’m greeted by a stone bridge over the bubbling Alzette River, people ambling along the narrow, village-like streets and groups of students sitting on the terraces in hearty discussion. After a time gazing at the pale yellow, pink and white buildings reflected in the water, and the spire of the abbey poking over the tops of the roofs, I stop for a quick pick-me-up of Rosport – the local sparkling water – before returning to the upper town.

I have decided to finish my day on the other side of the valley, on the Kirchberg Plateau, and to get there I need to catch a bus. To reach my stop I pass through the Place d’Armes, a pedestrian area with seating spilling out from the cafés, fast-food joints and restaurants that ring it. In summer there are concerts in the bandstand and that in winter the area is taken over by a Christmas market. Today though, it is alive with the musical chink of ice cubes in glasses, the hubbub of conversation and the dance of black and white-clad wait staff as they dash around serving drinks to shoppers resting under the shade of the trees.

My journey through Luxembourg’s history wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the MUDAM or the Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean. A creation of leoh Ming Pei, who also designed the Louvre’s pyramid in Paris, this modern art museum is built on the rampart walls of Fort Thüngen, and it is where old and new Luxembourg blend together. Inside are a maze of rooms, corridors and staircases, with the Grand Hall an enormous space full of light from which all other parts of the museum can be reached. As I pass from room to room I try to work out contemporary works such as wood installations in the shape of cubes and dodecahedrons, and the gothic stained-glass windows with skulls and skeletons, but what really captivates me is the beauty of the building itself with its mass of glass and angles.

After leaving, I walk behind the museum to get a better look at the way the old stone walls have been renovated and joined to the new construction. There is a path winding down the hillside, and I think I could walk back towards the Grund but my feet are beginning to tire, dusk is falling and lights are winking from behind curtains in the valley. It’s time to get back on the bus and find somewhere in the centre serving Gromperekichelcher, hot potato cakes with sour cream...