Explore 1,000 years of Luxembourg history with the Wenzel Walk
The Casemates and fortifications of Luxembourg have existed for centuries, but it was not until the 1990s that extensive work began to unearth and restore the city’s buried treasures for tourism purposes.
In 1994, the old city quarters and fortifications of Luxembourg were selected as a UNESCO World Heritage site and, prior to the new designation, a number of new tourism initiatives were launched. Among them: the Wenzel Walk, a three-kilometre trail created along the outer wall of Luxembourg’s fortifications, erected by Wenceslas II, Duke of Luxembourg, from 1383 to 1419 and after which this path is named.
The tourist brochure promises 1,000 years of history in 100 minutes and it lives up to its word: the trail is actually doable in 100 minutes. A map and basic overview of the route are printed in English on a free brochure available at the Luxembourg City Tourist Office, but information boards along the way are written in French and German.
A walk back in time
The walk begins on the Bock promontory in the year 963 when an old Roman fortress was acquired by Count Siegfried, founder of what would eventually become Luxembourg City. He built his castle atop the old fortress site, which was flanked on three sides by the Alzette valley in a strong defensive position from potential attackers.
From here, the walk fast-forwards to the 17th century as the path continues along the Corniche, a defensive wall that offers a full view of the valley below. Follow the metal circular “W” signs in the path downward toward the Luxembourg City History Museum and pass beneath the 17th century Grund Gate, after which the path will take a sharp left.
Continue downward and the path leads to the “Stierchen,” a 15th century bridge that crosses the Alzette and forms part of the Wenzel wall that continues upward to the Rham plateau. In its golden days, the wall stretched 875 meters in length and connected 37 towers and 15 gates. It was further protected by a moat, uncovered by archaeologists in the early 1990s.
The Stierchen bridge leads walkers to the 14th century “Tutesall,” used at the time as a stable. Here, a number of signs depict life as it was for those who lived or travelled inside the Wenzel wall, from uniforms worn by guards to the dangers faced by messengers and merchants when they left the protection of the city walls. Today, the Tutesall is part of the Neümunster Abbey cultural complex, which has its own rich history, having served over centuries as a Benedictine abbey, and alternating as a prison and hospital for civilian and later military use.
The other side of the valley
Ascending to the Rham Plateau, the path leads past the site of 17th century military barracks and along the Alzette valley, offering an expansive view from the opposite side of the Corniche.
Descending once more into the valley, the path continues along the “Maierchen” section of the Wenzel wall, where sentry guards conducted patrols to watch the city’s south-eastern Alzette river crossing. Beneath this passage can be found remains from the 18th century Grund lock, designed to flood the waters of the Alzette and Pétrusse rivers as an extra line of defence should the city come under siege.
Back to modern times
The Wenzel Walk follows today’s Rue St. Ulric into the Grund, then turns once more toward the water for a short stroll until the point at which the Alzette and Pétrusse rivers merge together. Upon reaching the bus stop and car park, walkers should cross the street to take the elevator up to Plateau Saint Esprit.
Here, the walk ends at the former site of a citadel and military barracks constructed by the French marshal, Sebastien Le Prestre de Vauban, in 1684. The barracks remained in use as such until 1967; bringing this historic walk to a conclusion 1004 years later, for anyone who’s counting.
Those visiting or new to Luxembourg will want to take note of a few points along the route that are not clearly marked, unfortunately due to vandalism of a few directional signposts.
The first place to pay attention is after ascending the circular staircase to the Rham Plateau. Ongoing construction adds a bit of confusion to the direction of the route. But walkers who stay to the right and follow the road closest to the edge of the plateau will stay on track.
Then, after crossing the Maierchen bridge and stepping onto Rue St. Ulric, walkers should stay to the right side of the street. The signpost pointing the direction blends in with the wall of Café Figurense; watching for the café signpost will be a better guide. Turn right down the small alley that runs along the wall of Café Figurense and follow the pavement toward the Grund’s picturesque stone bridge.
Guided tours of the Wenzel Walk are available from the Luxembourg City Tourism Office on Place Guillaume II every Wednesday and Saturday at 3pm through until November 6. The fee is €15 for adults, €13 for students and senior citizens, and €7.50 for children over five. The walk lasts three hours and is offered in French, German and English.
A brochure detailing the route for self-guided tours is available for free online or at the Luxembourg City Tourism Office.