Visiting the Chapel of Saint-Quirin, Luxembourg City: ancient church building cleft in the rock
Cave origins of Luxembourg City's oldest church
This remarkable Medieval chapel is striking not only for its origins many centuries in the past but also because of its location: cleft in rock in Luxembourg City's Pétrusse Valley.
Some history and features
This chapel is Luxembourg City's oldest church, already being used as such in the 11th century. Indeed, as a religious site, it is thought to have pre-Christian, indeed, pre-Roman, origins.
In 1355 a natural cave was adapted into a church building; it is reckoned that the building received early patronage from the Knights of the Teutonic Order. This Order was responsible for the guardianship of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and this Chapel was thought to have been used as a commemoration of this role of the Order.
The waters of a natural spring occurring in the immediate vicinity of the church were formerly thought to possess therapeutic qualities.
19th century restoration by Charles Arendt
In 1884-85, the building was renovated by the architect Charles Arendt (1825-1910), who was also responsible for work on several other churches in the Grand Duchy, on the Grand Ducal Palace in the city, and on Vianden Castle; Architect Arendt also authored numerous publications on architectural and artistic subjects.
The addition of the Chapel's belfry and spire constituted part of these 19th century renovations. It may be asked, if Architect Arendt was restoring the Chapel, why was he making substantial changes and even additions to this building? The answer to this lies in the widespread perception among architects in the 19th century that a 'restoration' could and should entail much more original work than architects today, responsible for restoration work. For example, the widely influential French architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879) was responsible for some huge 'restoration' projects which virtually entailed original creations of what he deemed to be a Medieval design ideal which had not necessarily ever existed. In this light, the additions to the Chapel of Saint-Qurin by Architect Arendt would not have been regarded as unusual by 19th century standards.
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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. 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.