Luxembourg’s fame as a military stronghold began with the Bock, a promontory over the River Alzette that made for an ideal natural fortification. It was here that Count Sigfried built his Castle in 963, which became the foundation of the city. The fortifications were attacked and rebuilt several times over the centuries by the armies of the major European powers until the 1867 truce finally called for the demolition of the fortress, which had become obsolete in the face of modern artillery and methods of war.
Ruins of the fortress remain a major tourist attraction, as are the Casemates, a series of tunnels under the fortress which were never dismantled. The extraordinary tunnels – more than 14 miles all together – were built in the 17th and 18th centuries by successive Spanish, French, and Austrian rulers. When functioning, they were like an underground city, with 50 cannons, housing for 1,200 soldiers, stables for horses, workshops, kitchens, bakeries, and slaughterhouses. It’s an incredible feat of military engineering, and a must see for any visitor to Luxembourg.