Visiting Luxembourg City: notable bay window feature at rue de la Loge; tribute to the independence of the Grand Duchy

Flag of Luxembourg
Flag of Luxembourg | Source
Old bay window in Luxembourg City
Old bay window in Luxembourg City | Source
Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck | Source
Map of Luxembourg
Map of Luxembourg | Source

Don't sing too loudly?

The building at 4, rue de la Loge, in Luxembourg City, is often photographed by visitors. This is principally because of the prominent inscription in Letzebuergesch (designated the national language of the Grand Duchy), which is painted on the picturesque bay window feature of the property's frontage. The words are taken from an anonymous adaptation of a song, De Feierwon , in celebration of the railroad, written in 1859 by Michel Lentz (1820-1893), regarded as the Grand Duchy's national poet. The words in question are:

Mir wölle bleiwe wat mir sin (We wish to remain what we are).

These words are widely interpreted as referring to the Luxembourg people's desire to remain independent.

The immediately previous words in the adaptation of the song are:

Mir welle jo keng Preise gin (We do not wish to become Prussians).

It must be remembered that in 1871 a Prussian garrison in Luxembourg City, provided for by the Congress of Vienna, 1815, had only recently been disbanded. (Trinity church in the City, still in existence, was used by Protestant members of the Prussian garrison.) The newly founded German Empire was Luxembourg's influential neighbour, and German Chancellor and former Prussian Minister-President Otto von Bismarck was a formidable force to be reckoned with. In the late 19th century, it was by no means a foregone conclusion that Luxembourg would not in due course be absorbed by the German Empire, as various other formerly independent states had been. Even Hesse, the Grand Duchy over which Grand Duke Adolphe I of Luxembourg had previously reigned, had been integrated into the German Empire through the wily manoeuvrings by Bismarck following the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 (1).

Through fears of offending the German authorities, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg thus actually tried to ban the singing of the song, declaring a certain defiance in the face of Prussian might. However, this attempt to prohibit the words may be said to have served only to make the revised form of the song more popular!

Eventually, these words became so well known that the last line of the revised song, asserting the desire for Luxembourg's independence, became the national motto.

The national motto, painted on the bay window feature at the rue de la Loge property, is complemented by a colourful version of Luxembourg's coat of arms.

Note

(1) It should not be thought, however, that Prussia and subsequently the German Empire was the only object of Luxembourg citizens' fears of annexation. As well as with Germany, Luxemburg shares a border with both France and Belgium. At various times — and particularly at the end of World War One — French and Belgian nationalists, were known to have coveted the inclusion of Luxembourg within the borders of their respective countries. Thus it may be clearly seen that the motto, quoted above, is regarded as a particularly apt expression of Luxembourg citizens' sentiment in the face of their historical experience vis-à-vis the Grand Duchy's neighbouring countries during the last century and a half.

Also worth seeing

Luxembourg City 's many visitor attractions include the Adolphe Bridge over the scenic Pétrusse Valley, the Grand Ducal Palace, the Cathedral, and the former ARBED building.

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How to get there: The nearest large international airport is Luxembourg (Aéroport de Luxembourg ), at Findel, from where car rental is available. For North Americans travelling via London, England, airlines flying to Luxembourg include Luxair (from London Heathrow Airport and London City Airport) and CityJet (from London City Airport). Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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