Grand Ducal Palace (Luxembourg)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Old Town Hall / Palais
Changing of the guards in front of the Grand Ducal Palace

The Grand Ducal Palace ( Luxembourgish : Groussherzogleche Palais , French : Palais grand-ducal ) in Luxembourg's old town at 17 Rue Marché aux Herbes / on the Krautmarkt, is the city residence of the Grand Ducal family of Luxembourg.


The building complex now known as the “Grand Ducal Palace of Luxembourg” was not always a palace. The Lucilinburhuc castle of the Counts of Luxembourg stood on the Bock rock. In the course of history, the court holding of the Luxembourg dynasty with Emperor Charles IV from Luxembourg to Emperor Sigismund from Luxembourg to Prague. During this time, in 1408, the New Market, the Krautmarkt, was built in the upper town. When the House of Luxembourg died out in the male line in 1437, the Duchy of Luxembourg was conquered by other dynasties and ruled by governors. One of these governors, Count Peter Ernst I. von Mansfeld , built himself a governor's palace in the city in the middle of the 16th century, which became known as the “court palace of Luxembourg” in the 20th century and was renovated and converted into the Foreign Ministry in the 21st century.

A ducal or grand ducal palace did not exist until 1890. At the current location of the Grand Ducal Palace on Krautmarkt stood the town hall and houses of nobles and lay judges, as well as a church, the Nicklauskirche, since the 13th century, where the paved pedestrian and parade zone runs in front of the Grand Ducal Palace and the parliament building today .

The old town hall, now the oldest part of the palace. Illustration around 1834

In 1554, during the war between Emperor Charles V and King Francis I of France, there was a powder explosion in the quarter that destroyed many buildings, including the medieval town hall. Governor Count Mansfeld had a new Renaissance town hall built in 1573, which is now the oldest part of the Grand Ducal Palace.

In 1683, the bombardment of Louis XIV of France caused damage to the old town hall, after which it was restored. Next door was a hostel, the St. Nicklaus Herberge, in the place of which the city ​​scales were built in 1740 , at the gate of which the Grand Ducal Guard stands today.

The former entrance to the city scales

In 1741 the sandstone balcony railing at the old town hall was replaced by a wrought iron balcony railing.

Grand Ducal Palace from the various old parts of the building
Each fireplace in the palace has its own handcrafted chimney

In 1778 there were structural changes to the Krautmarkt, the Nicklauskirche was demolished under the Austrian rule of Empress Maria Theresa , a belfry , without bells, was built instead in 1780. Today it belongs to the Grand Ducal Palace and the Luxembourg flag is hoisted on its roof when the Grand Duke is present.

From 1795 to 1815, the French rule over Luxembourg used the old town hall as its headquarters. From 1815 the Dutch king, in his capacity as the owner of Luxembourg, elevated the country to the Grand Duchy and King William I of the Netherlands became the first Grand Duke of Luxembourg. The representatives of the Dutch kings use the building for political purposes and renovated the interior in 1883 on the occasion of the state visit of King-Grand Duke Wilhelm III. and his wife.

In 1858, on the space vacated by the demolition of the church, Luxembourg's parliament building, the Chambre, in neo-Gothic style, was added directly to the tower.

When Grand Duke Adolph von Nassau-Weilburg inherited the country of Luxembourg in 1890 , he expanded the Grand Ducal Palace at his own expense, inside and out, into what it represents today. The old town hall, city scales, tower and an attached wing became the Grand Ducal Palace. He had the Renaissance ornaments of the facade of the old town hall attached to the adjacent buildings of the city scales and the tower in the neo-renaissance style, so that nowadays a uniform architectural image results.

The Belgian architect Gédéon Bordiau designed the rear extension of the palace in neo-renaissance style. The entire building complex was reserved exclusively for the use of the Grand Ducal Family.

During the Second World War, the Grand Ducal family was in exile and the Nazi occupiers use the palace as a tavern and concert hall. Much of the furniture and art objects were damaged or destroyed. In 1945 the Grand Duchess Charlotte of Nassau-Weilburg returned from exile and the Grand Ducal Court moved into the building. During the 1960s the palace was refurbished and completely restored between 1991 and 1996.

The palace today

As the official residence of the Grand Duke, the palace is used for the performance of official acts and occasions. Foreign heads of state are received there by the Grand Duke. The Grand Duke, his wife and employees also have their offices there.


Established as a Grand Ducal Palace

The founding father of today's Luxembourg dynasty, Grand Duke Adolph von Nassau Weilburg , turned the various buildings into the Grand Ducal Palace in 1890.

Before that, however, the oldest house in the Grand Ducal Palace, the building on the left with the two bay towers on the front, was the old town hall of Luxembourg City. It was built in 1575 after the previous building burned down. The building to the right of the old town hall with the round archway was the old town scales from the 18th century.

The renaissance town hall of Luxembourg city from 1575

The builder of the Renaissance building was the then governor of Luxembourg City, Count Peter Ernst I. von Mansfeld . Under Charles V and Philip II he served the Habsburg Spanish Netherlands , to which Luxembourg belonged. The architect of the old town hall is unknown.

Old town hall around 1655

Count Peter Ernst I. von Mansfeld comes from the County of Mansfeld in East Germany, Saxony-Anhalt . The town hall of the County of Stolberg in Wernigerode stood in the immediate vicinity of his homeland , an outstanding half-timbered town hall in the middle of the 16th century that was known to him. The similarity of the old Luxembourg town hall with the town hall Wernigerode from Mansfeld's homeland is clearly recognizable. Both have a narrow, high hipped roof and two oriel towers that have been moved outwards in Luxembourg. While the bay towers in Wernigerode are still built in the Gothic style soaring high above the roof, the bay towers in Luxembourg correspond to the taste of the Renaissance. The spiers start with the roof edge and were originally even shorter than they are today.

The old Luxembourg City Hall was often incorrectly referred to as the “Flemish Renaissance” because Luxembourg was part of the Spanish Netherlands at that time. Compared to the Flemish town halls from this period, the Luxembourg town hall is clearly different. Antwerp City Hall was built in the Flemish Renaissance style in 1565, just ten years before Luxembourg City Hall. However, the oldest building in the Grand Ducal Palace of Luxembourg is missing the main feature of the Flemish Renaissance and Renaissance town halls in general: the gable . There is neither the stepped gable common in the Spanish Netherlands nor the volute gable common in the Renaissance on the old town hall of Luxembourg. Instead, a hipped roof without a gable was built, as on the town hall of Wernigerode .

In Mansfeld's homeland, half-timbered houses with carvings on the compartments under the windows and on the window stems became fashionable during the Renaissance . The Luxembourg stone carvings under and next to the windows are a strong reminder of this. In the Spanish Netherlands, on the other hand, there are no comparable buildings decorated with bas-reliefs or carvings around 1570. Rather, the structural models were in the area around the County of Mansfeld and in the Harz Mountains .

Stone relief above the balcony of the old town hall

After the powder explosion in Luxembourg City in 1554, which burned down many houses, it was no longer allowed to build in wood and half-timbering. Only fireproof stone houses with slate roofs were allowed to be built. This also applied to the planned new construction of the town hall. Half-timbered construction was not possible, but viewed from close up the facade of the old Luxembourg City Hall is reminiscent of a Renaissance half-timbered house, such as the one at Burgstrasse 12 Hanover (1566), lavishly decorated with carvings .

Comparable town halls for the Luxembourg old town hall are the half-timbered town halls from the “richly rich” Count Mansfeld's home, that of Wernigerode (1544), the old town hall Einbeck (1562) and the town hall Duderstadt (16th century) or the town halls from the Hessian Alsfeld (1516) and Melsungen (after 1554), as well as the carved Renaissance half-timbered house in Burgstrasse 12 Hanover.

The patterns on the old town hall, the oldest building in the Grand Ducal Palace

Flower ornaments on the old town hall

Another misunderstanding that is dragged on by numerous travel guides about the Luxembourg City Hall or the Grand Ducal Palace (Palais) is the claim that the ornaments in the sandstone of the old Luxembourg City Hall are “Moorish arabesques ”, inspired by the Alhambra . The Alhambra was conquered by the Spaniards in 1492; when the old Luxembourg City Hall was built, that was over three quarters of a century ago and no longer relevant. In addition, this conquest was dwarfed by the discovery of America by the Spaniards in 1493. If one examines the individual motifs on the old town hall, there is no resemblance whatsoever to Moorish patterns. The commonality with Moorish patterns ends with the fact that these are reliefs in light stone, which for a long time, confusingly, were also called "arabesque".

Acanthus rosette on the old town hall
Roman mosaic with a braided pattern

According to Duden, the word "arabesque" means Islamic leaf decorations that go back to Roman antiquity. The leaf decorations on Luxembourg's old town hall include acanthus leaves and acanthus rosettes, as they were in the Renaissance fashion. The acanthus leaf does not appear in the Alhambra. Specialist authors therefore recommend a different choice of words with regard to the acanthus tendrils and completely dispense with the term "arabesque". At the Grand Ducal Palace, or the old town hall of the city, one should speak of "typical Renaissance patterns". The braided patterns on the Grand Ducal Palace are reminiscent of Celtic braided patterns that were adopted by the Romans in mosaic floors. Since the Renaissance is a return to classical Greek and Roman antiquity , the braided patterns at the Grand Ducal Palace are modified Roman patterns. The Romans also placed flowers at the center of circular ornaments and braids.

The flowers at the Grand Ducal Palace / Old Town Hall

The flowers at the Grand Ducal Palace / the old town hall of the city are - as erroneously written in travel guides - neither flowers of Moorish patterns nor replicated flowers of Roman antiquity, but they refer to the address of the old town hall: the "herb market" of the city. There, useful plants, herbs and medicinal plants were traded. Contemporaries of Count Peter Ernst I von Mansfeld were the two botanists born in the Spanish Netherlands of that time, Charles de l'Écluse and Ogier Ghislain de Busbecq . Both botanists promoted the introduction of exotic food plants and ornamental plants. At that time, Count Peter Ernst I von Mansfeld had already started building his new Renaissance palace, La Fontaine Mansfeld Palace, with Renaissance gardens for himself in Luxembourg Clausen. “Mansfeld is an exception in the history of Luxembourg. He enriched the culture, which was mainly shaped by peasants and citizens, with the dimension of the cosmopolitan thinking and acting prince ”. Even in our time, Mansfeld embodies a sense of art and a cosmopolitan outlook, which is reflected on the facade of the old town hall, of which he was the client. The six flowers in the circular ornaments repeat three different types of flowers that come from the field of medicinal, useful and ornamental plants and refer to the latest achievements of the Spanish Netherlands.

The potato blossom as an ornament

Potato blossom at the old town hall
Flowers of the potato

This stonemason flower on the old town hall of Luxembourg / Palais shows the bloom of the potato . Typical are the folded, pointed petals and the thick button that depicts the bundled stamens , as well as the triangular opening in the middle of the button for the carpels . The potato came from South America via the Canary Islands to Spain through the Spanish colonies , where it was introduced in 1565 and made known in other countries by the botanist Charles de l'Écluse . When the old Luxembourg City Hall was being built, the potato tuber was still an absolute novelty as an edible vegetable. The stonemasons designed the flower in four parts instead of five. Nevertheless, the potato blossom can be clearly identified by its special characteristics.

The Clusius peony as an ornament

Clusius peony
Clusius peony on the old town hall

The ancient medicinal plant Paeonia from the Mediterranean region was introduced to Western Europe by the botanist Charles de L'Écluse. The stonemason flower from the old town hall shows this peony , which was named after the Spanish-Dutch botanist, the Paeonia clusii. The shape of the petals corresponds to the heraldic representation of rose petals in general, but also to the botanical petals of the Clusius peony. The mostly five-petalled heraldic roses have a filled circle point inside, the button that symbolizes the stamens. The double, six-petalled peony at the palace, on the other hand, has a thick ring of stamens that the stonemasons have clearly carved out.

The Nymphaea Alba Lotus Ägyptia Alpini at the herb market

Nymphaea Alba Lotus Ägyptia at the old town hall

The water lily Nymphaea Alba Lotus Ägyptia Alpini, a tiger lotus from ancient Egypt , was one of the new plants from the Mediterranean region , which the botanist Clusius made famous when the old town hall of Luxembourg was being built . Clusius himself drew the lotus with seven inner petals, which the stonemasons at the old Luxembourg City Hall did for both the inner and the outer row of petals. This led to the form of a double seven-petalled flower, which does not exist in botany. However, the stonemasons have worked out all the essential characteristics of the tiger lotus: the stone water lily has the same depiction of the center as the Clusius peony, a thick ring of (yellow) stamens and it differs from the rose and the peony by the pointed and grooved, slender petals. A few years after the construction of the Luxembourg City Hall, the botanist Clusius from the Spanish Netherlands published a book of his plant representations, the Rariorum Plantarum historica from 1601. There you can see his drawing of the white lotus with seven inner petals.

The lilac blossom in the braided ornament

Common lilac at the old town hall
Lilac blossom
Braided pattern with lilac and pineapple ornaments on the old town hall

The braided cruciforms are the flowers of the common lilac , which the botanist Ogier Ghislain de Busbecq brought from the Ottoman Empire to the Spanish Netherlands. The lines on the petals and the diamond-shaped center are clear features, as was the then current novelty of the common lilac . The flowers were drunk as a medicinal tea, and the oils were used to make scented water. The lilac blossom can often be found between the braided pattern on the facade of the old town hall on Krautmarkt. The scratched diamond pattern, which can be seen alternating with the lilac blossoms between the braided ribbons on the window stems of the old Luxembourg City Hall, indicates the pineapple . The pineapple could not be planted in Central Europe in the 16th century and was not suitable as a fruit because of its short shelf life for long shipments, but it is a reference to the Spanish colonial empire in South America.

The square four-leaf plate

Large acanthus rosette on the old town hall

The square, four-petal plate above the balcony shows an early acanthus rosette, the center of which is formed from four eight-petalled rose petals. The large spade-shaped shovels go back to Gothic squares, the corners of which were traditionally filled with four irises or heraldic lilies . However, the Renaissance preferred the acanthus leaves from antiquity as a stately symbol, so that the square plate on the old town hall of Luxembourg can be described as a motif of the early Renaissance.

The four eight-petalled “Catholic” roses

Rose ornament on the old town hall

The four flowers in the middle of the square plate show roses with eight inner and eight outer petals. This type of rose representation is known from heraldry . The middle with the stamens is a simple button, as with the window rosettes in churches and in heraldry. The coat of arms of Osterwieck , a place in the home of Count Mansfeld, shows very similar petals, but only five-fold. However, eight petals instead of five are shown on the old town hall of Luxembourg City, which is why the symbolism is less to be found in the botany of the hedge rose than in heraldry and politics. Martin Luther , who was born in the county of Mansfeld, the home of the builder of the Luxembourg old town hall, and who spread Protestantism from there, had the five-petalled " Luther rose " as his coat of arms . Count Peter Ernst I von Mansfeld, however, served the Catholic Spanish Netherlands and wanted to exclude any confusion with the five-petalled Tudor rose of the English or with the rose of the reformer Martin Luther with the eight heraldic petals . Many rose windows in Catholic churches are divisible by four with eight, sixteen, twenty and twenty-four rose windows.

Web links

Commons : Grand Ducal Palace  - collection of images, videos and audio files


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Jerôme Konen, Romain Schaus, Jean-Louis Scheffen: Kasematten, Looking for traces in the fortress city of Luxembourg . ISBN 978-9-99598-200-3 . Chapter: From the Count's Castle to the Gibraltar of the North. Page 16
  2. Ons Stad magazine 54/1997. Marie-Paule Jungblut: The new market, a place of everyday life in the middle of the 17th century . Also available digitally
  3. Isabelle Yegels, Carlo Hommel, Claude Esch: Luxemburg Alstad Vieille Ville . Editions Schortgen 2012. Page 67.
  4. Brochure of the LCTO Discover Luxembourg. Page 32: The Grand Ducal Palace.
  5. ^ Jerôme Konen, Romain Schaus, Jean-Louis Scheffen: Kasematten, Looking for traces in the fortress city of Luxembourg . ISBN 978-9-99598-200-3 . Chapter: From the Count's Castle to the Gibraltar of the North.
  6. Ons Stad magazine 54/1997. Michel Schmitt: The Sankt-Nikolaus Kirche am Neumarkt , page 2–3, picture page 3. Also available digitally
  7. ^ Jerôme Konen, Romain Schaus, Jean-Louis Scheffen: Kasematten, Looking for traces in the fortress city of Luxembourg . ISBN 978-9-99598-200-3 . Chapter: From the Count's Castle to the Gibraltar of the North. Pages 17-41
  8. ^ Michel Pauly: History of Luxembourg. ISBN 978-3-406-62225-0 , Verlag CHBeck 2011. Chapters 5 to 13.
  9. Isabelle Yegels, Carlo Hommel, Claude Esch: Luxemburg Alstad Vieille Ville . Editions Schortgen 2012. Pages 95-101
  10. Isabelle Yegels, Carlo Hommel, Claude Esch: Luxemburg Alstad Vieille Ville . Editions Schortgen 2012.
  11. ^ Marie-Paule Jungblut , Michel Pauly , Heinz Reif (eds.): Luxemburg, a city in Europe . GERMAGZ-Verlag 2014, ISBN 978-3-9815545-3-3 , pages 355-358
  12. ^ Panoramic picture by Antoine Fontaine and Frédéric Heurlier, 2006, Musée d'histoire de la ville de Luxembourg
  13. ^ Michel Pauly: History of Luxembourg . ISBN 978-3-406-62225-0 , Verlag CH Beck 2011. Chapter 10, pages 52-55.
  14. ^ Jerôme Konen, Romain Schaus, Jean-Louis Scheffen: Kasematten, Looking for traces in the fortress city of Luxembourg . ISBN 978-9-99598-200-3 . Chapter: From the Count's Castle to the Gibraltar of the North. Pages 17-41
  15. Half-timbered carvings, Calvendo creative portal. Retrieved February 7, 2016
  16. Mark Stölb: Luxembourg City . Editions Guy Binsfeld, 2008. Page 19. Error: "[...] why the facade has Spanish-Moorish elements."
  17. Duden - Arabeske Duden online. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  18. Younger specialist authors on European ornament history such as Carsten-Peter Warncke: Die Ornamentale Groteske in Deutschland Berlin 1979 or Günter Irmscher: Ornament in Europa, Cologne 2005, completely dispense with the term arabesque in this context.
  19. Luxemburger Wort, Die Warte. February 27, 2014. Jean-Luc Mousset: Mansfeld and the “New Luxembourg” .
  20. ^ Rariorum Plantarum historica , Clusius, 1601 Bibliothèque nationale de France. Retrieved February 5, 2016.

Coordinates: 49 ° 36 ′ 39.5 ″  N , 6 ° 7 ′ 58 ″  E