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Architectural Icons: Grand Ducal Palace

Architectural Icons: Grand Ducal Palace

by Sarita Rao 2 min. 13.06.2022
City hall turned palace, and one-time concert hall and bar, it hides a sumptuous interior
Erected as the city hall in 1572 Photo: Shutterstock
Erected as the city hall in 1572 Photo: Shutterstock

Firmly on most tourist trips, how often do residents of Luxembourg stop to gaze at the Grand Ducal Palace on rue du Marchés-aux-Herbes?

Erected in 1572 as the new city hall (the original city hall was destroyed by a gunpowder explosion in 1554) , the exterior façade is built in Flemish Renaissance style. Ornate stonework, strangely symmetrical in design, is criss-crossed with many windows and ornate balconies.

You can take a tour of the interior only in the summer months from July to early September (booking recommended although the online booking has not started yet). If you do, you won’t be disappointed by the majestic interior, beautifully lit with designs by Ingo Maurer. 

You’ll glimpse wood-panelled rooms, gilt ceilings, tapestries and full-length portraits in addition to grand halls and staircases. Tours are given in English, German, French, Dutch and Luxembourgish. For a sneak peak of the interior page has an online 360 degree view. 

From city hall to palace

A city hall from 16th century until the end of the 18th century, it also became the headquarter for the Luxembourg government from 1817. In that same year, it became the residence of the Governor from The Netherlands, and an annex was added for the parliament in 1859 which now houses the Chamber of Deputies. 

The balcony's wrought iron balustrade dates back to 1741, during which time the building was enlarged to include the Salle de Balance.

Sumptuous decor and lighting by Ingo Maurer Photo: LW Archive
Sumptuous decor and lighting by Ingo Maurer Photo: LW Archive

Since the 1890s the palace has been one of the homes of the Grand Ducal family, and remains the current Duke’s official residence today. During the late 19th century it was comprehensively renovated and family and guest accommodation was added. This were done under the guidance of Belgian architect Gédéon Bordian with assistance from Luxembourgish state architect Charles Arendt.

Sadly, during Nazi occupation, the palace was used as a beer and concert hall and much of its art collection and original furniture was destroyed. In 1960, the Grand Duchess Charlotte redecorated the rooms, but it was only fully renovated in the 1990s. Guards have been posted outside the building since 1945.

Today it’s used for official functions and the Yellow Room is where the Grand Duke broadcasts his Christmas Eve speech.

The palace, a true icon of Luxembourg, has some 10,000 visitors every year.

View over a hot chocolate

If you cannot see the interior this summer, why not gaze at its delicate and captivating exterior façade and watch the changing of the guard with a warm infusion from the Chocolate House Nathalie Bonn, located opposite.

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