Luxembourg City has a number of outdoor commemorative statues, memorials and monuments, all of which offer a small peak into the history and culture of this tiny Grand Duchy. Small in size, but large in stature in Europe, and in its complex history.
The most-photographed seems to be the Grand Duchess Charlotte Memorial in Clairefontaine Square, not far from the late-Gothic Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin (1613), and the Government District.
Clairefontaine Square is named after a place of shelter, a refuge belonging to the Abbey of Clairefontaine near the Belgian border. The square was redesigned in the late ‘80s and the Charlotte Memorial erected in honor of Grand Duchess Charlotte (1896-1985). It was designed by Parisian sculptor Jean Cardot, and was officially inaugurated on 29th April 1990 in the presence of the Grand Ducal family. Grand Duchess Charlotte, who was very popular with the Luxembourgers, ruled from 1919-1964. All the visitors (including us) seem to want their picture taken next to the grand lady. We walked through this square a number of times, day and evening and even in light rain, and there were always throngs of people around the statue.
She also has a bridge named after her, the Grand Duchess Charlotte Bridge (more popularly known as the “red bridge” because of its color), the long bridge connecting the old city center to the newer European quarter. Even today, the Ducal family is very well-liked.
Another famous statue is on the edge of Place d’Armes, one of the main city squares in the old city. It is the Dicks-Lentz Monument, erected in 1903 to pay homage to the two national poets, Dicks (1823-1891) and Michel Lentz (1820-1893), who wrote the lyrics of the national anthem. It is a tall pillar, topped with a lion, the heraldic animal of the Grand Duchy. The blacksmith symbolizes the steel industry, which played an important part in this small country’s history. On the pillar is an inscription, with the words of the motto of the Luxembourgers: “Mir wolle bleiwe wat mir sin” (We want to stay what we are).
Unfortunately when we were there, some restoration work was going on in the square and the Monument was partly obscured by barricades.
In the large adjoining William Square are two interesting statues; the equestrian statue of William 11, and the Michel Rodange Monument.
The bronze statue of William 11, designed by Mercié in 1884, pays tribute to the King and Grand Duke William 11 of Nassau-Orange, reminding us of the inter-connection between Luxembourg and the Netherlands. He ruled from 1840-1849 and, one year before his death, granted the Grand Duchy its first parliamentary constitution, one of the most liberal in Europe at the time. The monument’s pedestal has the coat of arms of the House of Orange-Nassau and that of Luxembourg, and also the ones of the 12 cantons of Luxembourg.
The other memorial on the square, next to the City Hall, is the Michel Rodange Monument, commemorating this well-known Luxembourg poet. It was designed by Jean Curot and built in 1932. The curved memorial stone has a medallion with a portrait of Michel Rodange (1827-1876). Perched on top of the monument is a stone fox, so the monument is also called “Flis’chen” (little fox). This commemorates “Renert” (Fox), the most popular of the poet’s works. (Renert, in Luxembourgish, is very similar to Renard in French). Renert is an epic satirical work, adapted from Goethe’s fox epic to a setting in Luxembourg. It is well known because of its insightful analysis of the characteristics of the Luxembougers, using regional dialects to depict the fox and his companions.
William Square really is an open sitting room of the city, as besides a number of restaurants, the Visitors Bureau and City Hall, it also hosts a weekly open-air market and in the warmer weather has many music concerts.
The final memorial that we found in our few days in Luxembourg is the “Gelle Fra” Memorial (The Golden Lady) on Constitution Square overlooking the Petrusse Valley and the Petrusse casemates. It was set up in 1923 to commemorate the Luxembourgers who died in WW1—explained in gold lettering in French at the base of the pillar. It consists of a gold-plated female figure on a stone obelisk. On 20th October 1940 the Nazis pulled the monument down and it was only restored and put back here in 1984. It’s an important monument as these days it symbolizes freedom and resistance for the Luxembourg people.
Another memorial to a famous Luxembourger is that to Robert Schumann (not the classical music composer), but we didn’t make it there unfortunately. He was the person who, in 1950, basically started the whole process of the European Community: the 6 founding states were the Federal Republic of Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
That’s just one of the reasons that we’d like to return to this delightful city and country.