Visiting the Church of Saint-Michael, Luxembourg City: a bulbous-domed silhouette in Baroque and Gothic
A strong sense of verticality
Although the triple spires of Luxembourg City's Cathedral may be an ecclesiastical profile in the City which even more well known, close behind this feature is the bulbous-domed tower of Saint-Michael's Church (French: Église Saint-Michel; Létzebuergesch: Méchelskierch; German: Sankt-Michaelskirche) in rue Sigefroi.
Records show that there was a church building on the site of the current Saint Michael's Church building in as early as the 10th century (1). However, the current structure dates largely from the 17th century, althiough some of the stonework is thought to date from the 14th century.
As well as the bulbous dome atop the tower of the building, an ornate doorway is a particularly noted feature of the structure; close to the doorway is a religious statue depicting Michael slaying the dragon.
While it is straightforward to think of the 17th century building as being in the Baroque Counter-Reformation tradition, there is also a Gothic element in the presence of windows with pointed arches. However, some of the window arching is rounded, being more reminiscent of Romanesque or Syrian rather than Gothic.
In the early 21st century, the building underwent a program of refubishment. The organ dates from the 17th century, overhauled in 1963. For many years, Saint Michael's church has been particularly noted for its choir activities.
Interestingly the location of Saint-Michael's Church is significant. The original known church building here served as the chapel for an early Count of Luxembourg. Tellingly, also, close to this spot in Roman times there was a crossroads. Thus, historically, in a manner of speaking, this site has always been perceived as being at the centre of things. I find that this church building commands a curious sense of silent brooding. Whereas Luxembourg's Cathedral is usually — if not a hive of activity — then the centre of human coming and going. But this large, historic building seems to exude a evocative stillnes, as if the burden of its very long history weighs heavily upon its locale.
There is a strong sense of verticality at this building: not only because of its tower, with the striking, bulbous shape, but also because the Upper City (French: Haute-Ville) is itself at an elevated position overlooking the neighbouring Alzette and Pétrusse valleys.
January 24, 2014
(1) Canadians may pause to reflect that the original building was here at the time of the settlement of L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland and Labrador: a rather striking, comparative timescale.
Some sourcing: wikipedia in various languages.
Also worth seeing
In Luxembourg City itself, which is rich in architectural heritage, its numerous visitor attractions include: the Cathedral; the former ARBED building; the Häerz-Jesu-Kierch; the Grand Ducal Palace; the Chamber of Deputies building; the towered, former State Savings Bank building at place de Metz, where General Omar Bradley had his headquarters at the end of World War Two; the Pont Adolphe over the picturesque Pétrusse Valley; Place Guillaume II ; the Gelle Fra monument; the Saint-Quirin chapel; the Glacis chapel; the monumental railroad station; and many others.
How to get there: From Luxembourg Airport (Aéroport de Luxembourg), at Findel, car rental is available. For North American travellers who make the London, England area their touring base, 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. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. You are advised to consult 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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