Luxembourg’s world heritage by tram, funicular railway and panoramic lift

There is a new way to explore Luxembourg since Europe’s most modern tram service and a new funicular railway started service in December 2017. The tram runs along the prestigious avenue J.F. Kennedy in the Kirchberg area, and is served by the Pfaffenthal-Kirchberg funicular which provides a link to the national train network. A few minutes’ walk through the valley from this train station brings you to a stunning panoramic lift to the upper town centre. Once at the top, you’re only a short walk from the old town, a Unesco world heritage site. Thus you move from the ultra-modern to the historic in just a few minutes.

At the eastern end of the Kirchberg district are numerous shops, restaurants, a multiplex cinema, the Luxexpo The Box exhibition centre and office buildings. The tram line runs through an urban landscape that is in effect a gallery of contemporary architecture and art, featuring works by some of the world’s leading names. The “Luxexpo” stop is by the Serra roundabout, named after the magnificent nearby sculpture from Richard Serra. You can also appreciate the spectacular steel and glass shelter created by the landscape architect Peter Latz. As you glide toward the city centre on the tram, you will see Julian Opie’s “Walking in the city” statue near to buildings created by Richard Meier, Diener & Diener.

Later notice the oxidized metal chain-mail facade created by François Valentiny, the Luxembourg architect who also conceived the Grand Duchy’s celebrated stand at the Shanghai World Expo in 2010. Further down the boulevard is the new National Library, a resolutely modern expression by Bolles+Wilson & WW. The central park features the national sport and cultural centre “Coque” with its wonderfully organic feel given by its architect Roger Taillibert. Next stop on the tram brings travellers close to several EU institutions in which around 10,000 civil servants work. Dominique Perrault’s European Court of Justice has the appearance of two bars of gold, and around the corner is Sir Denys Lasdun’s European Investment Bank masterpiece.

Two of the capital’s most striking buildings are found near the “MUDAM – Philharmonie” stop. The Philharmonie, Christian de Portzamparc’s concert hall, is stunning, as is the Mudam where I.M. Pei wove an extraordinary contemporary building into the ruins of the Trois Glands site. This latter building also includes the Dräi Eechelen Museum, which details the history of Luxembourg’s fortress.

Next stop on the tram line is “Pfaffenthal-Kirchberg” which links the funicular to avenue Kennedy. Descending 40 metres (130 feet) into the Pfaffenthal valley is a complete change of aspect, going from the hyper modern Kirchberg into picturesque rugged landscape. Straight away you will be brought into the old Luxembourg fortress, which is classified by Unesco as a world heritage site. Across the Alzette river is the panoramic lift, which climbs 71 metres (233 feet) and allows an impressive view over the valley and onto the Kirchberg. It arrives at the Pescatore park in the city centre, dotted with museums, as well as shops for all tastes and budgets.

Further stunning views of the valley, the cathedral, and place de la Constitution national monument are to be had from the pedestrian/cyclist passageway suspended under the Adolphe bridge. When it was built in 1900 this stone bridge had the widest arch in the world. Now, the 155 metre (508 feet) high passageway has added a fresh, contemporary touch to this historic structure, as well as displaying remnants of the old fortress.

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Publication date
22 January 2018
Luxembourg for Tourism
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