Unesco warns on dangers of 'Old City' becoming museum
The City of Luxembourg's historic 'Old City' and fortresses have been listed as World Heritage monuments by Unesco - the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
But the United Nations group that placed the city on a cultural pedestal of the international stage warned: 'Turning the town into a museum must be avoided at all costs.' Unesco is opposed to alienating the medieval monuments and architecture from the people who live in and alongside it.
'Luxembourg's legacy of treasures must be kept from becoming prey to the consumer culture,' according to a Unesco report compiled by a team of expert historians and architects.
'Above all, care should be taken to prevent them from becoming the object of over-aggressive international city marketing.
'Society and town are now, more than ever, corollaries of one another.' The antique treasure-house must remain inhabited, Unesco said.
The World Heritage listing is a credit to Lilliputian Luxembourg.
'The history of the Grand Duchy is inscribed in its architecture and monuments,' Unesco said. 'The quality, uniqueness and authenticity of Luxembourg rests in its exceptional ambivalence.
'It is a place of unassailable European military features . . . enjoying a contemporary, intelligent and dynamic sense of culture.' Those 'unassailable' defences are a product of nine centuries of defences against successive invasions from Burgundy, Spain, France, Austria and Prussia.
The heritage is a unique ensemble of fortresses, military barracks, arsenals, gunpowder stores and 24 kilometres of underground tunnels.
They date back to 963, when Siegfried, count of the Ardennes and founder of the Luxembourg dynasty, built the first castle in what is today's capital city.
That 'Lucilinburhuc' (small castle), which gave Luxembourg its name and represented the beginning of the city, was besieged and devastated more than 20 times over four centuries.
Eventually, the castle was fortified to such an extent that it became impregnable, with three circles of protecting walls, 40 individual fortresses and 23 kms of battlements.
But today only its remnants remain in the most historic districts of the city encompassing the Marche aux Poissons, the Grund, Clausen and Pfaffenthal.
One of the remnants, known as the 'Bock', where a solitary canon reminds visitors of its military past, was singled out by Unesco as 'Luxembourg's Acropolis' and the 'cradle of the Grand Duchy', deserving special care.
Local authorities were praised for marking the 'Bock' with new, symbolic entries as part of the restoration programme undertaken for Luxembourg's 'European City of Culture' celebrations last year.
Yet Unesco noted: 'It is regrettable that this place should be - even today - traversed by a new road layout.
'The transit devalues, to a large part, the symbolic nature of the site and the considerable efforts that have been made in its restoration.
'Neither the Acropolis in Athens nor the Forum in Rome are cut across by a road.' The site should be freed from all traffic, Unesco urged.
Overall, however, Unesco said the restorations of the Alstad old-quarters of the medieval city and such monuments as the Grand Ducal Palace had been conducted with 'great care to maintain the character and particularly of this heritage, with a view to preserving its authenticity'.