The Grand Duchy Is a Great Cultural and Architectural Melting PotIT IS EASY TO INTEGRATE INTO THIS CITY, WHERE YOU CAN FEEL AN INTERNATIONAL ATMOSPHERE ALMOST EVERYWHERE, AS ALUMNA ROSSANA PASINI RECOUNTS
About half of Luxembourg’s inhabitants do not originate from the Grand Duchy. Luxembourgers of foreign origin are mostly Portuguese. Then there are the Italians, the French, the Germans, and so on. The reason for so much national variety is almost exclusively due to work reasons: transnational corporations have opened their offices here, attracted by Luxembourg’s favorable tax regime. In companies, several languages are spoken, and the same is true of the small country’s public offices, banks and supermarkets: it is not uncommon to come across a cashier or an official who knows your language. Italian is certainly one of the most widespread idioms in Luxembourg, and in restaurants offering traditional Italian cuisine, hearing Italian is a guarantee of authenticity. In these venues, the staff speaks almost exclusively the language of Dante, either at the tables or on the phone.
Mingling into Luxembourg's life is a fluid and immediate process, and not only for linguistic reasons: the easiest way to look for a home is to go on the online real estate agency www.athome.lu; news about the capital city and its cultural events are conveniently listed in a local magazine, to which every resident has a free subscription.
Art and music give pace to the weekend with events held almost invariably in buildings designed by some of the world’s most important contemporary architects. The urban landscape of Luxembourg is a sequence of fairytale-like Late Gothic palaces interspersed with recently built constructions. The MUDAM, the museum of modern and contemporary art, for example, stands on a rampart designed by Ieoh Ming Pei which recalls the pyramid of the Louvre in style and materials. A stone's throw from the museum, there is another major building that is worth seeing from the outside, before experiencing its interiors: the Philharmonie, with its lamellar façade designed by Christian de Portzamparc. After leaving the big park that embraces the area, you can head towards the historic city center and, walking along Le Chemin de la Corniche, observe that the city clings to the side of a big cliff. The fascinating path winds along the city's walls, offering the magical sensation of walking on rooftops: you start from the historical and picturesque Grund, the district and car-free zone where nightlife is concentrated, and you end at Bock Casemates, a maze of underground tunnels dug into the rock in the middle of the 18th century, and then used as bombing shelter during the Second World War.
by Rossana Pasini
Translated by Alex Foti