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LUXEMBOURG CITY ....If you were looking for a safe place to build your fortress during the Middle Ages, you couldn't do any better than Luxembourg City. Although settlements have been found dating back to the fourth century, the current city grew up around the castle built in 963. Along with the castle, naturally, were fortress walls. Luxembourg City is situated on a high plateau with steep ravines. It was a perfect natural fortress and earned the reputation as "the Gibraltar of the North". Surrounded by Spain, Germany, France, and Austria, you can easily guess some of the European powers that invaded Luxembourg in the past.

The Grand Duchy gained independence from foreign powers in 1867. In order to gain that independence, Luxembourg had to proclaim neutrality and dismantle a large portion of the fortress. Fortunately, there's enough of the castle and walls left to give you a good idea of the fortification. And, like any European city, it wouldn't be a real European capital without a cathedral.

The main attraction of the city, at least according to guidebooks, is the Bock Casemates. It's what is left of the fortification that was dismantled in 1867. You can wander as much or as little as possible. There are tunnels, gun placements, subterranean passageways, steep climbs and breathtaking views of the old city. There's little wonder why it was used as a bomb shelter in World War II.

MARTIN

Copyright 2010 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.