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European Memory of the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg – IV Rural Architecture

european institute of cultural routes

Michel Thomas-Penette

05 May 2007

A route recognised as a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe and consisting of four cross-border trails has, since 1987, testified to common roots of rural dwellings. We propose to start this discovery from Attert valley.

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 de Luxembourg


Leave Koerich towards the West in the direction of Hobscheid, from there you will reach Redange-sur Attert, towards the North, via the villages of Elvange, Noerdange and Niederpallen. This city, our next stage, bears witness to rural architecture and its evolution both, in the past and yet to come.

It opens also the possibility for those who wish, to cross the Belgium's border and follow the Attert valley toward the Natural Park of the Valley of Attert. An interpretation centre is there ("Au coeur de l'Attert - In the heart of the Attert") to bring you as many keys as possible.

Rural architecture is a component of cultural landscape

The spirit of the popular baroque in rural houses is only a step away…

We recommend visiting this village because it has benefited from restoration as part of the "Eist Duerf soll liewen" campaign, and it has protected its common heritage.

It constitutes, at the same time, an example of rural architecture (the Even Farmhouse of 1766, to 65 Grand-Rue and the Berg Farmhouse on the same street) and a departure point for cross-border journeys of the discovery of this architecture.

This includes circuit number two, "Architecture without Borders" (Germany, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Belgium), which was introduced in 1987.

In the region around this village, one comes across large farmhouses with crimson façades, coloured with a mixture of red sand and limestone, which are typical of the rural architecture of the region (sand oxides, mixed with whitewash, creating tones from beige to yellow to pink to brownish-red).

This stop, which relates with another monument to Luxembourg’s heritage (rural architecture is a component of cultural landscape) situated in Colpach-Bas , also represents a connection to traditional society, such as it has survived in spite of the country’s industrialisation.

This traditional aspect has today been taken up by employees of the tertiary sector who descend from the small farmers of rural and agricultural society.

The area has been modernised, contemporary comforts brought in and some granges and outbuildings have been transformed into leisure areas.

However, the alignment of the village streets has been respected, and inopportune pictorial and architectural interferences have been avoided in order to protect the area’s ancestral character and emphasise its cultural routes.

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Many of these constructions come from the period of revival that followed the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648).

With the advent of Austrian rule, a rural style developed, which is known as the style of Maria-Theresa (Empress of Austria 1740-1780). These buildings show the passer-by a continuous surface looking out onto the street, uniting the living quarters, the stables and the grange under one roof. As stated in the guide "Architecture without Borders", published by Association Ruralité, "Markets, coaches and new roads moved the peasant away from his former isolation. Servitude was abolished and taxes and duties were eased. Agricultural crops such as potatoes improved the quality of life…. The regions dependent on the old abbeys of Echternach, Orval, Prüm and Stavelot are a good example of the common rural heritage that we are trying to highlight once more, on both sides of the border."

In the 19th century, this style of house would evolve through the construction of square buildings with an interior courtyard.

Baroque design expresses itself here most often through the framing or decor of the doors and windows, which are a testimony to the skilfulness of the stone cutters, just as the farmhouse doors and sculpted decor of the church of Koerich bear witness to the skills of the wood carvers.

The guide quoted above also states: "What is fascinating about these houses is the permeation of the forms and structures, function and volume, that go hand in hand with a minimal use of materials. The natural products used are those that are locally available: sandstone, slate, oak, limestone, sand, clay and straw. All of them contribute to a natural harmony which renders rural architecture not an art form as such, but a form of culture, in the honest sense of the word."

A route recognised as a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe and consisting of four cross-border trails has, since 1987, testified to common roots, which Georges Calteux describes in the following way: "When a cultural landscape has common features in regions belonging to different countries, it cannot be defined through references to borders. On the contrary, it is an essential element in the understanding between nations, going beyond national characteristics and demonstrating common, more fundamental acquisitions, coming from a long history."

Corresponding initiatives have been set up in the border regions between Portugal and Spain, and Central and Eastern Europe.

A natural historical relationship also exists between the villages of the Eastern part of the Greater Region and those of Transylvania, especially the Romanian Banat. This can be seen through a visit to Sibiu and the villages that grew up around fortified churches, which bear witness to the emigration of the 12th and 13th centuries, or to Timisoara, to the villages that were still being built up through emigration in the era of Maria Theresa.
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In the heart of Attert

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