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Visiting Luxembourg City and its Grand Duchess Charlotte Bridge: mediating suburbs and history
Metaphor to the coming to Luxembourg of European institutions
An apt name has been given to the Grand Duchess Charlotte Bridge (French: Pont Grande-Duchesse Charlotte ; Letzebuergesch: Groussherzogin-Charlotte-Bréck ; German: Grossherzogin-Charlotte-Bruecke ). Sometimes, this structure is also known as the Red Bridge (French: Pont Rouge ; Letzebuergesch: Rout Bréck ; German: Rote Bruecke ).
Historical and symbolic background
So why is the name of this enormous structure linking the City Centre with the Kirchberg suburb particularly appropriate? The reason for this is that Grand Duchess Charlotte (1896-1985), for whom the Bridge is named, reigned for a long period (1919-1964), during which time Luxembourg underwent enormous changes in its foreign relations. The country emerged from being an insecure, small state seeking to avoid absorption by Germany (indeed, by other of its neighbours, also) into one which was a founder member of the European Economic Community, later the European Union, a circumstance which caused great changes to the urban landscape of its capital city, and gave an important practical and metaphorical rôle to the Grand Duchess Charlotte Bridge. This is because several institutions of the European Union are based in the neighbouring Kirchberg suburb. Grand Duchess Charlotte officially inaugurated the construction, but, by the time of completion, Charlotte had abdicated in favour of her son, Grand Duke Jean.
Put differently, the Bridge links the old and the new: the historic city centre (French: Ville Haute ; Letzebuergesch: Uewerstad ; German: Oberstadt ) with Kirchberg's many post-World War Two buildings which house various of the European institutions. (These include: The European Court of Justice, the European Court of Auditors, the Secretariat of the European Parliament, elements of the European Commission and the European Investment Bank.)
The picturesque valley 74 metres below the Bridge is the Pfaffenthal (spelling used in French and German; Letzebuergesch: Pafendall ). Through this valley runs the Alzette River (French spelling; Letzebuergesch: Uelzecht; German: Alzig (1) ), a major fluvial artery of the Grand Duchy, which rises in France.
The Bridge was built between 1962 and 1966. Its architect was Egon Jux (1927-2008), also known for the Koehlbrand Bridge over the Elbe, Hamburg, Germany. Its total length is 355 metres. The weight of this steel structure is a total of 4785 tonnes.
In Luxembourg City's road network, the Bridge links Boulevard Robert Schuman with Avenue John Fitzgerald Kennedy .
Also worth seeing
(1) The German form Alzig is now sometimes regarded as somewhat archaic, the French spelling Alzette being often used.
How to get there: The nearest large international airport is Luxembourg (Aéroport de Luxembourg ), at Findel, from where car rental is available. For North American travellers arriving via London, England, airlines which fly 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. Please 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.
Other of my hubpages may also be of interest
- Visiting Luxembourg and its Grand Ducal Palace: previously the seat of the government
- Visiting the Chamber of Deputies' building, Luxembourg City: seat of Parliamentary institutions for
- Visiting the Pont Adolphe in Luxembourg City: bridging the essence of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg'
- Visiting Luxembourg City's former ARBED building: grand enough for a Grand Duke
- Visiting the Chapel of Saint-Quirin, Luxembourg City: ancient church building cleft in the rock