The city of Luxembourg is known as the landlocked “Gibraltar of the North” because of its once-fortified location. It is set
above the cliffs that flank the canyon-like valleys of the Alzette and Pétrusse rivers. Today, the city of Luxembourg is more
fairy tale than fortress. The old city, especially, is a pleasing mix of the past and present. Its elegant towers, spires
and turrets and its attractive walls of golden sandstone helped win Luxembourg the United Nations' designation of World Heritage
Site in 1994.
The steep-sided plateau on which Luxembourg stands explains its origins. The Romans first set up camp here. They had one eye
on military control and the other on the advantages of a strategic trading position at the crossroads of northern Europe.
In AD 963, Count Siegfried of the Ardennes built a castle on the narrow Bock promontory above the Alzette river.
Over the next 900 years Luxembourg evolved into one of the mightiest fortifications in Europe. In 1867 the terms of the 1831
Treaty of London were applied, and Luxembourg became a neutral state. The military fortress was dismantled and the encircling
walls were replaced by the present city's outer boulevards.