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Visiting the Malakoff Tower, Luxembourg City: recalling the final years of a fortress, dismantled in the 19th century

Updated on November 26, 2012
Flag of Luxembourg
Flag of Luxembourg | Source
The Malakoff Tower, Luxembourg City
The Malakoff Tower, Luxembourg City | Source
Map of Luxembourg
Map of Luxembourg | Source

Insight into changing, 19th century historical circumstances

There have been several Malakoff Towers, one of which is in the Crimea.

However, this one — thus named, also — is located in the Clausen suburb of Luxembourg City, and dates from 1861.

"So, maybe just a 19th century folly, of no military value?"

Actually, no. It did indeed have military significance and formed part of a great fortress, begun in the Middle Ages, and strengthened in the 19th century.

"But surely Luxembourg has not been a great European power for centuries?"

Well, in fact, though its status as a great European power waned in the Middle Ages, strategically Luxembourg remained very significant; its fortress was reinforced and occupied by a Prussian garrison since the Treaty of Vienna, 1815. The Malakoff Tower (French: Tour Malakoff ; Létzebuergesch & German: Malakoff-tuerm ) was thus part of these fortifications.

But the stone, Malakoff Tower, Luxembourg, with its round design (1), was destined to have military value for only a few years. In relation to the status of Luxembourg, much diplomatic horse-trading occurred between the European powers, By 1867, with the Treaty of London, Luxembourg City was demilitarized and a long period of neutrality for the Grand Duchy ensued, officially changed only at the end of World War Two. While the full significance of the Treaty of London was arguably grasped only belatedly by some of the parties to the Treaty (France and Prussia went to war a few years later), yet from a practical perspective this meant that the Malakoff Tower had become redundant.

The Malakoff Tower, at rue Jules-Wilhelm , was generally named for the Battle of Malakoff, Crimea, in 1855, which resulted in a victory for French the army led by General MacMahon (2), against Russian and Bulgarian forces. Another General at this Battle was also granted a peerage named for Malakoff.

In Luxembourg City, a nearby Jewish cemetery is also sometimes referred to by the name Malakoff.

November 26, 2012


(1) Fort Thuengen, in Luxembourg City, dating from the 19th century, also incorporates a similar, rounded design for its three towers.

(2) General Patrice de MacMahon (1808-1893). Marshal of France, Duke of Magenta, later served as President of France.

Also worth seeing

In Luxembourg City itself, visitor attractions include: the nearby birthplace of Robert Schuman at rue Jules-Wilhelm ; the Pont Adolphe over the picturesque Pétrusse Valley; the Grand Ducal Palace; Place Guillaume II , the Gelle Fra monument; the Cathedral; 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. 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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