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European Memory of the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg – VII Ösling

european institute of cultural routes

Michel Thomas-Penette

06 May 2007

Crossing the Canton of Wiltz, one must celebrate the broom festival, when in the right season, but above all, one must acknowledge the variety of the Oesling landscapes.

Cities: Luxembourg-Ville, Koerich, Redange-sur-Attert, Colpach, Esch-sur-Sûre, Wiltz, Clervaux, Vianden, Diekirch, Mersch, Larochette, Bourglinster, Junglinster, Echternach, Rosport, Wasserbillig, Grevenmacher, Wormeldange, Remich, Schengen, Mondorf-les-Bains, Esch-sur-Alzette, Dudelange
Department: Luxembourg
Region: Luxembourg
Country: Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg

  Wiltz, the cultural landscapes of Ösling

« The region of Wiltz sings about the diversity of Luxembourg’s landscape, praised in the national hymn: "Wou d'Uelzech durech d'Wisen zit, durch d'Fielsen d'Sauer brëcht?".

“Here, the landscapes are what make the authenticity of the country. From this we can perceive the interactions between nature and culture, reciprocal influences between man and his environment that last for several centuries. The valleys, peaks and plateaus, often crowned with picturesque villages have a great natural beauty that inspires people to go walking.”

Hence, we present the next stage of our journey along the route proposed by Georges Calteux, which Raymond Clément, a photographer from Luxembourg has so magnificently captured. His photographs, accompanied by texts by Nelly Lecomte, make up a chapter in the book “Millennium – historical and future sites”: ‘Dawn and twilight, the mist making holes in the darkness and defeating black indistinctiveness’.

The Oesling constitutes the northern part of the Grand Duchy. It is a Devonian massif which makes up part of the natural region known as the Ardennes. These are the Luxembourg Ardennes, which are a southern extension of the Belgian Ardennes and an eastern extension of the Eifel.

End Autumn

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  High plateaux and valleys


When crossing the canton of Wiltz it is, in fact, not so important to celebrate the broom festival. What matters most is that we consider the landscapes of the Oesling, or Ösling, or Eisleck or Islek, that we started to discover in the Natural Park of the Haute-Sûre.

On the route towards Wiltz, which goes through Buderscheid, then from Wiltz to Wilwerwiltz and Clervaux, we cross a fresh and damp landscape, established on schist and where the slate has been mined, like in Martelange, where they are trying to revitalise the quarry for tourist interest. Veins of quartz and quartzite have also been exploited using quarries that provide mostly crushed rock.

As stated by the environment portal: “The hydrographical network of the Oesling is very dense due to the fact that the mother rock is practically impermeable. At the sandstone level of Luxembourg, which is very permeable, there is a lower density. This formation covers about a third of the country and provides the biggest underground water reservoir in the country, supplying about 65% of drinking water.”

We are in fact on a high plateau whose peak is 560m high at Kneif, near Huldange, a plateau started by the sunken valleys of the Sûre, the Our and their tributaries, the Wiltz, the Clerve and the Blees. Its plateaus are used for crops and pastures and are intersected by woods. The bottom of the valley is good for foraging, whilst the mountainsides are covered with oaks where glades allow the yellow of the broom. On the slope one finds conifer woods that have grown from the neglect of the oak shrubbery known as Louhhecken that provides the bark of their trees for the multitude of tanneries in the north, common spruce (picea abies) being the preponderant species. As such one artificial wood replaces another, natural forest being a beech grove.

From Wilwerwiltz, we will go to Clervaux, where a double celebration of Steichen, a photographer from Luxembourg, and the ‘war of the sticks (Köppelkrieg) is planned, but for those who want to completely understand the landscape system, we cannot overstate the importance of continuing down the Our Valley and going directly to Vianden

If you make this choice, you can climb back up the Our Valley, visit the little museum and follow the geological trail which leads to the copper mines of Stolzembourg. A visit to the hydroelectric plant of the Our will complete the information related to energy.

Thus, we will have made contact with one of the most rugged landscapes of Luxembourg whose flora and fauna are perfectly displayed in the Natural History Museum in Luxembourg City, for those who don’t discover these landscapes in the right season to hear the birds, perhaps meet the wild cat, the badger or the grouse of the woods.

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  Jardins à suivre

Amongst all of the artistic environments that we have discovered over the years, the two installations ‘Champ libre’ and ‘Echappée belle’, situated in Clervaux in front of the château and on the plateau, in the direction of Troisvierges, seemed to us to dispose of a particularly strong concept.

In effect, they address the very notion of understanding, definition and putting into perspective of a photographic landscape via the representation of landscape throughout all of the history of art.

It goes without saying that it merits a stop, but the coherence of its set up with the places chosen is not only poetic, it tells what a panoramic viewpoint…or a gazebo was in the history of gardens, and what it has become, a tourist route or a backdrop and industrial landscape in the middle of nowhere, today.

Protection, putting into perspective, reading…it is more to us than a tourist recommendation; it is a particularly intelligent form of landscape mediation.

The two Parisian landscapers who were chosen for this project which takes place as part of ‘Gardens to follow’ : Olivier Baert and Gaëlle Pinier. They perfectly explain their intentions.

On the subject of the ‘Echappée Belle’, situated at the foot of the château of Clervaux, which houses the exhibition by Edouard Steichen ‘Family of Man’: “And if photography went out into the town, would it slide along the rock? The schist rock face becomes the support and displays the photographs that a drowned by the vegetation that clings to the rock. Strange apparitions are therefore created, unexpected images, street scenes in the street…The foot where the boulder is detached: the experimental plot is drawn and welcomes a unique model which regroups all of the urban landscape in order to become a sculpture: the pedestal, benches, the dustbin and the street light become one and mix. The photographic image invades this module, applies itself and sticks to it.”

As for the ‘Champ Libre’: “At the start: an insignificant piece of land attached to the road, the desire to make people discover the surrounding landscapes and the hidden treasure of the château of Clervaux. To create an open panoramic viewpoint in the valley so that one can watch the evolution of the town in the place where it was started. Sow a flowered prairie to immerse the walker in a shimmering and moving sea. Organise a route that edges out and displays photography, art dear to the town of Clervaux through an open sky exhibition with large dimensions.

Champ libre

Champ libre

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  The meaning of landscape

Echappée belle

Harvest time

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Islek without borders

Broomfestival Wiltz

Islek ohne Grenzen

The Luxembourg Ardennes

Sites of memory of Luxembourg
Millenium – Lieux de Mémoire et d’Avenir
Luxembourg monographies
Oesling - Les Ardennes luxembourgeoises
Industrial Heritage Stolzembourg

Belgian-German Nature Park
If you cross the border to Germany and Belgium.
Natural Park of Our Valley

Jardins... à suivre 2007

Environment Portal

Grande Région : Parks
Sound Trail.
Hëllef fir d'Natur
This website proposes to cross the border and visit Belgium Ardenne.
Festival de Wiltz

National museum of natural history

Tourist Office of Wiltz

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