Echternach - General View
The Marketplace in Echternach
The lake of Echternach
The Grand Dukedom of Luxembourg as a significant financial capital is, next to Brussels and Strasbourg, the third seat of government in the European Union. At the same time Luxembourg is a center of the greater region of Saar-Lor-Lux next to Metz, Saarbrucken and Trier.
Echternach (population of 5,400) is the oldest city of the Grand Dukedom and has a direct borderline with Germany in the East, only 27 km from the oldest city in Germany, Trier. Echternach is not least of all renowned through its book painting and the spring procession which each year brings thousands of pilgrims to Luxembourg.
The former cloistral city is one of the most splendidly restored architectural ensembles of the country and can just about claim the same high rank as the capital city of Luxembourg itself. The development of Echternach as a religious, intellectual and artistic center started with the founding of the Benedictine Abbey in the 7th century (698) through the canonized friar Wilibrord, an Anglo-Saxon missionary. The epitome of this development was the famous and in all of Europe known Echternacher Book Painting of the 10th and 11th century. A splendid piece of that time is the Golden Evangelical of Echternach (Codex Aureus Epternacensis), which is on display in the Germanic Museum in Nuremburg.
Together with the importance of the monastery founded by St. Willibrord, the power of the abbots who owned enormous property grew as well in the following centuries. After they were given the function of Imperial Prince they exercised judicial force on the citizens. Documentation of that time is the constructed “Dënzelt” (Dingstuhl which derives from the Old High German “dingen” – advise), the courthouse of Echternach as well as a copy of the judicial cross, located in close proximity, and standing below its “Urtsel” (the judicial pillar), the sentences were announced and if necessary immediately carried out.
Echternach developed magnificently throughout the centuries and was culturally and also politically a focal point of the whole country up until the 13th century, more important even and larger than the Count’s city of Luxembourg.
The grandeur of Echternach as a historical and cultural center is still visible today and as such offers so many sights that the countless visitors are often in each other’s way during many a summer day.
The exact origin and sense of the Spring Procession procedure (three steps forward and two back) is still in the dark. If it is a type of joyful dance that the population offered in honor of their deliverer St. Willibrord or more an anti- St.Vitus´s dance against the falling sickness and other afflictions for which St. Willlibrord is also in charge of has not been determined as of yet. In any case: the Spring Procession on every Tuesday after Pentecost (Whitsun) is an absolute must-not-miss as a religious-touristic hallmark and it would be unthinkable to have it gone.
But not only the historic sites that make Echternach year after year a magnet for thousands of tourists. On a cultural level it is the international music festivals of Echternach that has been in existence for more than 30 years and which each year during the early summer months and in fall make historical sites such as the Abby’s Basilica and the church of St. Peter & Paul as well as the Trifolion a Mekka with world renowned artists for classical music and Jazz.
The visitor in and around Echternach feels the unique atmosphere in the combination of architecture of the past with the lifestyle of the present, embedded in a not least prominent natural background. Visit Echternach and be enchanted by its extraordinary flair.