Wednesday, April 18, 2012

In the Grand Duchy

Greetings from the World's only sovereign Grand Duchy which is also the "lux" in the acronym Benelux for Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. Although the country is a small democracy with a population of about half a million, the country's titular ruler is H.R.H. Grand Duke Henri who ascended to the position in 2009 when his father, Grand Duke Jean, abdicated - see the following:

Here is charming German song about the Duke (Graf in German) which topped the German pop charts about 30 years ago (

According to the IMF, Luxembourg has the world's highest GDP per capita.  Many international banks and businesses are located in Luxembourg City as is the European Court of Justice.  Like Switzerland, Luxembourg is known as a place where the rich park their money to avoid taxes.  However, Germany and other European countries have recently started monitoring their citizens' financial holdings and dealings in Luxembourg more closely. 

Luxembourg City has less than 100,000 people, but has enough attractions to keep tourists entertained for a few days.  For Americans on tight travel budgets, Luxembourg is a major entry point into Europe, usually with Icelandic Air after a stop in Iceland.  Icelandic has long provided the cheapest scheduled flights between the US and Europe. Gertrud and I took this route shortly after we were married. The following links provide more details on the country and the city.

For Germanophiles, a primary attraction of Luxembourg is its close proximity to the Moselle River and to Trier, Germany's oldest city. The Riesling wine and the castles of the Moselle are world famous. The primary attractions of Trier are the Porta Nigra, an ancient Roman ruin, and a cathedral which houses a holy tunic said to have been worn by Christ just prior to his crucifixion.  This past weekend, the robe was put on exhibit for the first time since 1996 and Trier was swarming with hoards of pilgrims mingling with the simply curious. The following links provide more on the Moselle, on Trier and on the holy robe.