Visiting the Mullerthal: the Little Switzerland of Luxembourg
Spelling and multilingual complexities, too
There are various reasons why the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg may be compared with Switzerland: its numerous banks, its efficient administration, its general cleanliness and, not least, its multilingualism. Another reason could also be added: topographical. Scenically, its Mullerthal (1, 2) (Letzebuergesch: Mellerdall ; German: Muellerthal ) is sometimes referred to as Luxembourg's Little Switzerland (French: Petite Suisse luxembourgeoise ; Letzebuergesch: Kleng Lëtzebuerger Schwäiz ; German: Kleine Luxemburger Schweiz ) (1).
The Mullerthal is charaterized by rocky terrain, with sandstone outcrops, in thick woodland, through which various paths wind, to a total length of 110 kilometres. Through this area, the Ernz Noire (Letzebuergesch: Schwaarz Iernz ; German: Schwarze Ernz ) runs, being a 20.6 kilometre tributary of the Sûre River (Letzebuergesch and German: Sauer ). A waterfall — Luxembourg's highest — known as the Schiessemtumpel (2) (Letzebuegesch: Schéissendëmpel ; German: Schiessemtuempel ) is situated in the Mullerthal.
The Mullerthal forms part of the cross-border German-Luxembourg Nature Park (French: Parc naturel germano-luxembougeois ; Letzebuergesch: Däitsch-Lëtzebuerger Naturpark ; German: Deutsch-Luxemburgischer Naturpark).
A village, also named Mullerthal, within the municipality of Waldbillig (Letzebuergesch: Waldbelleg ; German: Waldbillig ), is located in this area.
The name 'Little Switzerland' for this area is thought to have been coined originally by a 19th century writer, Jacques Collin de Plancy. Another writer, Marie Adrien Perk, drew attention to the fact that, since an area of Saxony, Germany, was already referred to as Little Switzerland, the Mullerthal's similar features deserved this appellation also.
(1) Luxembourg's authorities do not admit that the Mullerthal's extent is the same as that of Little Switzerland. Thus, the complexity of the trilingual place-names is complemented by usage which is not uniform. But the fact remains that Mullerthal and Little Switzerland are terms which are often used interchangeably.
(2) Mullerthal and Schiessentumpel are generally standardized French spellings.
Also worth seeing
Echternach (distance: 15 kilometres), situated on the border with Germany, the town has an ancient abbey and Roman villa ruins.
How to get there: The nearest large international airport is Luxembourg (Aéroport de Luxembourg ), at Findel, from where car rental is available. 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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