The mysteries of Gréngewald - part 1
In this two-part mini-feature we will be introducing you to the mysteries of Grèngewald also known as “Grünewald”, a forest and national monument, many of us drive through on a daily basis.
This first article, although not 'spooky' will introduce you to the history of the forest and the second is a closer look at Staffelter, a central point geographically as well as historically, for Grünewald. The second part will also give you details on some of the many cultural and historical monuments placed throughout the forest and promises to be quite spooky!
Part 1: The history
Gréngewald is one of the biggest forests in Luxembourg covering an area of about 45 km2 of which 25% is still owned by the Grand Duke’s family. Gréngewald has been a key component of Luxembourgish territory since the country became a sovereign state in 1839 (reaffirmed in 1867).
In 1846, Luxembourg, under the reign of the Dutch King Wilhelm II, sold some of the forest (6.69 km2) in order to raise money to cover war damages and spur the economic development of the country. Two years later about 22.3 square kilometres was also sold off, but the remaining 7 km2 could not be sold at a reasonable price, resulting in King Wilhelm II deciding to keep the land for himself.
Following the very close union between Luxembourg and the Netherlands in 1890, Gréngewald found a new owner, Queen Wilhemina of the Netherlands who, the following year, sold the forest to the Grand Duke Adolphe (Grand father of Grand Duchess Charlotte), meaning that Gréngewald once again became Luxembourgish.
In 1934 (during the world-wide financial crisis) the Grand Ducal family was forced to sell off bigger parts of the Grünewald and even Colmar-Bierg, the primary residence of the Grand Duchess (and today the Grand Duke), to the state at a far lower price than the property was deemed worth. Rumour had it, that Prince Félix, Grand Duchess Charlotte’s husband, needed money to pay off a gambling debt, however this was later denounced publicly by Jean-Claude Juncker as false.
In 2006 the Grand Duke wanted to sell 850 hectares to the state, but this never took place because of the general resistance amongst the Luxembourgish population. This resulted in a symbolic “leasing” of Grand Ducal property to the state. Nevertheless, in 2008 Grand Duke Henri sold 385 hectares of the forest surrounding Colmar-Bierg to the state for €6.1 million.
Today, 35 square kilometres of the forest is owned by the state, and the remaining 10 are still in the Grand Duke’s possession.
Gréngewald is a popular hiking destination and was declared a national monument in April 1966 due of the many historical and cultural remains that can be found in the forest.
Part 2 follows next week complete with spooky tales!
By Line Eskildsen (first published in 2011)