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Luxembourg - c*licking the architecture

A moderately sunny day for a stroll through the old city. Every japanese tourist's favorite picture spot in Luxembourg (aka the Palace of the Grand Dukes) is shining in all its glory...

The historic renaissance core of the building originates from 1572, when it was built as the Town Hall. On 11 June 1554, much of the city was destroyed by a fire caused when lightning struck the Church of the Franciscans, and ignited gunpowder stored in the basement. Work on reconstructing the Town Hall only started in 1572, thanks to city architect Adam Roberti.

The building was bombarded by the troops of Louis XIV in 1683 because the cellars were used as refuges by the inhabitants during attacks. The building had to be restored. The main body of the building subsequently became the seat of the States i.e. the provincial representatives. During the period of French rule (1795-1814) it housed the Prefecture of the new Département des Forêts and Napoleon I stayed there.

From 1817, the palace became the residence of the Governor, the representative of the dutch Grand Dukes. The interior was renovated in 1883, in preparation of a visit by King Grand Duke William III and his wife, Queen Grand Duchess Emma. With the accession of the House of Nassau in 1890, the palace was reserved exclusively for the Grand Duke and his family. Under Grand Duke Adolphe, it was comprehensively renovated and a new wing, containing family rooms and guest accommodation, was built by the Belgian architect Bordiau and the Luxembourg state architect, Charles Arendt.

During the Second World War, the Grand-Ducal Palace was used by the Nazis as a concert hall and tavern. Extensive damage was done and much of the palace's furniture and art collections was ruined and the rich collections of paintings, including works by Largilière and Tischbein, the collections of oriental and Dutch china, the Sèvres vases and Russian malachite vases were dispersed, but fortunately recovered later.

With the return of Grand Duchess Charlotte from exile in 1945, the palace once again became the seat of the Grand-Ducal Court. Having been restored immediately after the liberation, the Palace once more became the political centre of the Grand Duchy. On 23 June every year (Luxembourg's national holiday) crowds throng there to cheer the Sovereign on the central balcony.

Under the supervision of Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte, the palace was redecorated during the 1960s. It was thoroughly restored between 1991 and 1996.

Grand Duchess Charlotte in 1945, on the day she finally returned home from exile. On that day, the streets around the palace were filled with people waiting for her as the news of her return spread over the country and everyone wanted to come down to the capital to witness that moment.

Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria-Theresa

Former Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte

For the Luxembourg people, the palace symbolizes their sense of national independence.

The freshly renovated facade of the Cathedral Notre-Dame-de-Luxembourg, dating back to 1621

One can see that this is a popular meeting spot for the hip going-rack pushing crowd!

Parking spots exclusively reserved for women...

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    I am Cedric, discoverer of things that would go unnoticed in the streets of Paris, historic haven of fashionistas and city of lights ('lights' as in 'enlightenment', not street lights).
    But seriously: I'm an expat from Luxembourg (the country, not the garden), living in the center of Paris (hence 'Paris 2nd arrondissement'), and currenlty studying architectural history...

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