05 April 2017

#1253 Luxembourg

The Bock (LuxembourgishBockfiels) is a promontory in the north-eastern corner of Luxembourg City's old historical district. Offering a natural fortification, its rocky cliffs tower above the River Alzette which surrounds it on three sides. It was here that Count Siegfried built his Castle of Lucilinburhuc in 963, providing a basis for the development of the town which became Luxembourg. Over the centuries, the Bock and the surrounding defences were reinforced, attacked and rebuilt time and time again as the armies of the BurgundiansHabsburgs, Spaniards, Prussians and French vied for victory over one of Europe's most strategic strongholds, the Fortress of Luxembourg. Warring did not stop until the Treaty of London was signed in 1867, calling for the demolition of the fortifications. Ruins of the old castle and the vast underground system of passages and galleries known as the casemates continue to be a major tourist attraction.

The first tunnels for the underground defences below the old castle were dug out during the Spanish period in 1644. Extensions were made by the French engineer Vauban under Louis XIV in 1684 but it was from 1737 to 1746 that the Austrians completed the extraordinary complex of underground passages and galleries known as the casemates. With a total length of 23 km (14 mi) and depths of up to 40 m (130 ft), they accommodated 50 cannons and a garrison of 1,200 men. In addition, they had underground facilities for housing equipment and horses as well as workshops, kitchens, bakeries and slaughterhouses. When the surface fortifications were dismantled in 1875, most of the underground defences remained largely untouched, 17 km (11 mi) of passageways remaining. In 1994, the casemates were added to the list of UNESCO's world heritage sites, attracting some 100,000 visitors a year.

Thank you. Anne !

Sent on: March 28. 2017
Received on: March 31, 2017

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