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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Monday November 16 2009

6k has got me thinking bridges again (see below).  But why did my search for “bizarre bridge” get me to this:

image

Search me, but I’m not complaining.

This church is built into the hillside on which it perches. One of the reasons the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has survived as an independent state for a thousand years against such powerful neighbors as Germany and France, is that the area is eminently fortifiable. Even in the capitol, the gorges are deep and difficult to pass, with only a few bridges spanning the distance high above. It’s easily one of the most dramatically sited capitols in Europe.

I’d always kind of imagined that Luxembourg was flat, like Belgium.  That explains a lot.

Next search: “luxembourg bridge”.  And I have my winner:

image

Great shadow.

UPDATE: Incoming from Michael J:

Luxembourg City is on a hill that is almost surrounded by a river that almost encircles it: it loops around and heads back in something like the direction it came from. This is itself surrounded by more hills, so the city pretty much has a natural moat around it. The attached pictures (taken by me) capture some of this, but one really needs a full 360 degree view.

imageimage

Slight smudge on the lens top left there, but we get the pictures.

One consequence of this geography (and the fact that Luxembourg has long been rich) is that the city contains many, many bridges, and bridges of many different eras.

If you imagine Luxembourg as one of the French speaking cantons of Switzerland, but one that for some reason got lost and ended up at the wrong end of the Rhine, then you get the gist of the place, I think.

Nice to have a guest blogger when I’m not feeling well.

Yes, not quite sure what happened there. I might have got a little water on the lens, actually. Some of it is a point and shoot camera with not very good white balance in tricky light, too. The photos were taken about five years ago, so I can’t quite remember which camera I was using, either. However, as “photos that get the point across”, clearly fine.

Any readers you have from Luxembourg might take issue with my describing their Canton as “French speaking”, too, as the situation is more complex than that and I know it is more complex than that. However, walk into a shop and you are greeted in French, the default language for conversation between people who do not know each other seems to be French. This may be because people in Luxembourg speak fairly standard French but German gets pretty hairy in that part of the world.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 17 November 2009

Not to mention that they might get annoyed at me for referring to their Grand Duchy as a Canton.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 17 November 2009

people in Luxembourg speak fairly standard French but German gets pretty hairy in that part of the world.

Not only that part. France has been politically unified far longer than Germany and French has been subject to rigorous government campaigns to standardise the language and stamp out regional dialects.

Plus French was for centuries in widespread use as an international lingua (er...) franca, which also tends to have a standardising influence on a language. (I am not acquainted with Swiss French, and would be willing to accept that that might be “pretty hairy” for a standard French speaker)

Posted by Alan Little on 19 November 2009

"One of the reasons the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has survived as an independent state for a thousand years against such powerful neighbors as Germany and France, is that”

.... it hasn’t.

It’s been annexed dozens of times (e.g. here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forêts) and largely exists as a buffer between Germany and France. The last invasion was carried out by German soldiers pretending to be tourists in May 1940.

Posted by Antoine Clarke on 23 November 2009

The Germans were pretty nasty on that occasion, too. This was one of those places that they declared was part of the German Reich with no special status, and that the locals were German and would speak German from now on. Anyone who objected to this (or to being drafted into the German army) would be sent to a camp. Sending close relatives of people who tried to run away to Switzerland to said camps was a nice touch, too.

Luxembourg doesn’t really have long standing independence. It’s more a matter of not ever being fully integrated into any of the countries that ruled it, and its rugged geography does probably have a part in this. It was passed around between the French, the Austrians, the Dutch and various others between the 15th and late 19th centuries. It was given to the dutch King at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, but Prussia controlled its external affairs. When Belgium rebelled against the Dutch in the 1830s, a lot of Luxembourgers took the Belgian side and Luxembourg lost a lot of territory to Belgium. (There is a Belgian province called Luxembourg consisting of this former territory). Luxembourg only really became independent in 1890 when the king of the Netherlands died without a son. The Dutch crown was inherited by his daughter, but Luxembourg’s rules of succession did now allow inheritance by a woman, so the two crowns separated.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 23 November 2009
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