Interesting Luxembourg facts

34 Interesting Facts About Luxembourg, the Gibraltar of the North

This article introduces you to some of the most unusual and interesting facts about Luxembourg.

Luxembourg is a small but fascinating country with a captivating blend of history, modernity, and natural beauty. Nestled in the heart of Europe, this small nation is enticed by its high concentration of fairy-tale castles, lush landscapes, and rich cultural tapestry.

General Facts About Luxembourg

1. Luxembourg is a small, landlocked country in Western Europe. It shares its borders with Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, and France to the south.

2. Although it’s quite small, Luxembourg is larger than 6 other European nations. Luxembourg covers a total area of 998 square miles (2,586 square kilometers). That makes it larger than Vatican City, Monaco, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Malta, and Andorra.

An old arched bridge with trees around it
Adolphe Bridge in Luxembourg City

3. Luxembourg has fewer people than Nashville, Tennessee. And that’s talking about Nashville city proper, not the whole metropolitan area. Luxembourg only has 660,000 people. Still, it has more people than 8 other countries in Europe.

4. Luxembourg has its language, but less than half the country can speak it. Luxembourg has three official languages. They are Luxembourgish, French, and German. English is also widely spoken due to its international business community. Approximately 250,000 people in Luxembourg speak Luxembourgish.

5. Luxembourg’s capital city has the same name. 70% of the city’s population was born outside of the country. 1 out of 5 Luxembourgers (citizens of Luxembourg) live in Luxembourg city. 

6. The city of Luxembourg serves as one of the headquarters for several European Union institutions. These include the European Court of Justice and the European Investment Bank.

Some old houses and a castle on a cliff above with purple sky
The historic city center of Luxembourg

7. Luxembourg is famous for its cultural diversity, stunning landscapes, modern architecture, and historic castles. The capital, Luxembourg City, features a UNESCO-listed historic center

8. Luxembourg is one of the oldest nations in Europe, with a recorded history that dates back to 963 AD. At different points in its history, parts of it has belonged to France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Unusual Facts about Luxembourg History

9. The oldest remains ever found in Luxembourg date back 8,000 years. Dubbed the ‘Loschbour man,’ the skeleton was discovered in 1935 in Heffingen. He is believed to be one of the last Mesolithic hunter-gatherers.

10. Ancient Luxembourg was once known as the “Gibraltar of the North” due to its high concentration of castles and fortifications. Despite the size of the nation, there are more than 100 castles in Luxembourg.

11. In 1196, Ermesinde of Luxembourg, Countess of Luxembourg, arranged for her daughter to be married to a three-year-old boy. Her daughter was married to a boy from a neighboring region as part of a political alliance.

A large castle riding up behind some trees
One of Luxembourg’s many castles

12. The Bock Casemates in Luxembourg City are a network of underground tunnels and chambers. They were used for defense during medieval times, creating a maze beneath the city. 

13. The Grund area of Luxembourg City was supposedly created by a giant. Legends say the giant created the area by throwing rocks into the Alzette River to create stepping stones.

14. Luxembourg folklore includes tales of the White Lady of Luxembourg. The White Lady was said to be a ghostly figure that appeared to individuals who are about to face a significant event.

15. During the Luxembourg witch trials, accused individuals were often searched for “witch’s marks” or unusual bodily features. Any abnormal markings were believed to be signs of witchcraft, leading to bizarre and baseless accusations.

16. In medieval Luxembourg, cats were sometimes put on trial as part of witchcraft trials. Cats were believed to be associated with witches, and some were even executed as a result. Other animals could also be put on trial for various crimes, too.

A turn in a river with a church and some other old buildings in it
Historical buildings in Luxembourg

17. During the medieval period, pigs were sometimes used as currency in Luxembourg. Even the annual rent of certain properties could be paid with live pigs instead of money.

18. One form of punishment (for humans) in Luxembourg was the “Schandpaal.” This was a public pillory that stood in the heart of Luxembourg City. Convicted criminals were publicly humiliated and punished there.

19. Luxembourg’s ‘The Schueberfouer’’ fair dates back to medieval times. This was a traditional funfair that began in the 14th century. Originally a trade fair, today it includes rides, food, crafts, and more. It attracts up to 2 million visitors, making it the country’s most popular event.

20. During the outbreak of the Black Death in the 14th century, Luxembourg residents buried the dead in a tunnel under the city. The tunnel was dug between the Bock Casemates and the Clausen district.

Looking up at Ferris wheel that is blurred from motion, shot at night
A Ferris wheel at Schueberfouer fair, which dates back hundreds of years

21. In the 17th century, it was fashionable for women in Luxembourg to have high foreheads. They achieved this by shaving their natural hairline and wearing wigs that exposed their foreheads.

22. In 1945, a war crime called the Chenogne massacre was committed in Luxembourg. According to reports, 80 German prisoners were lined up and gunned down by an American combat unit.

Interesting Facts about Modern Luxembourg

23. Luxembourg has Europe’s largest traditional dancing procession. Annually, Luxembourgers come together in Echternach to honor seventh-century monk St Willibrord. More than 10,000 children, men, and women participate in the procession and a further 40,000 watched. The procession has been taking place since the 16th century.

24. Luxembourg is the last Grand Duchy in the world. These are states ruled by a “grand duke” or “grand duchess”. Finland and Lithuania also used to be Grand Duchies, and there were more in Italy and Russia.

25. Luxembourg is ranked number 1 in the world when it comes to car ownership. There are approximately 647 car owners per 1,000 inhabitants. This isn’t surprising considering the size of the country and GDP per capita (see next fact).

A typical street in Luxembourg city with some cars going by
Not all of the country is castles and historic buildings – here’s a normal street in Luxembourg

26. Luxembourg has the second-highest GDP per capita in the world, falling just short behind Qatar. It also has the second-highest minimum wage in the world and the highest in Europe (€2,256.95 per month).

27. Over 200,000 Luxembourgers work outside the country every day. Almost 35% of the current population consider themselves cross-border workers. That means they journey into a bordering country for work.

28. Luxembourg has the highest proportion of foreign-born residents in Europe. Just over 42% of the population is made up of foreigners. The largest group of foreign nationals in the country is Portuguese (14.5%).

29. Luxembourg is considered one of the safest cities in the world. In 2019, Luxembourg City was crowned the safest city in the world. The city has also been ranked the 17th best city in the world to live in.

30. At the same time, Luxembourg has a reputation for being boring. Is this true? Well, it has been widely discussed, for example here and here.

A triple waterfall with small wooden bridge above and forest to the side
A third of Luxembourg is actually covered in forest

31. Since 2011, Luxembourg has been ranked 7th in the world for overall prosperity. Luxembourg ranks well for security and enterprise conditions but is weaker on the education front.

32. Restaurant Chiggeri in Luxembourg City has the largest wine list in the world. The restaurant’s wine list has more than 1,700 labels, which became the Guinness World Record in 2009.

33. Forests cover more than a third of Luxembourg. Approximately 35% of Luxembourg’s total surface area is covered by forest and over half of them are privately owned. 

34. In 2015, Luxembourg’s prime minister became the first openly gay EU leader to marry their partner. Xavier Bettel married his partner Gauthier Destenay in the same year 83% of Luxembourg’s population voted in favor of same-sex marriages.

35. Luxembourg produces some of the best wines in Europe. In 2022, Crémants from Luxembourg won 19 gold medals at France’s 31 national competition.

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