Three elements of the Luxembourg heritage have also been officially recognised by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization):
- the fortress and the old city centre of Luxembourg;
- the photographic exhibition 'The Family of Man';
- the Hopping Procession of Echternach.
The fortress and old city centre of Luxembourg
According to UNESCO: 'Because of its strategic position, Luxembourg was, from the 16th century until 1867 when its walls were dismantled, one of Europe's greatest fortified sites. It was repeatedly reinforced as it passed from one great European power to another: the Holy Roman Emperors, House of Burgundy, Habsburgs, French and Spanish kings, and finally the Prussians. Until their partial demolition, the fortifications were a fine example of military architecture spanning several centuries.'
The remaining parts of the ruins of the ancient fortress are one of the main tourist attractions of the capital.
The photographic exhibition 'The Family of Man'
The famous collection of photographs 'The Family of Man' was created in 1955 by the Luxembourg-born American photographer Edward Steichen for the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York.
The photographic collection, which consists of 503 photographs by 273 photographers from around the world, including artists as renowned as Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Brassaï ..., is now permanently installed in Clervaux Castle.
Through 37 topics presented by impressive exhibits, the exhibition aims to 'to explain man to man through the universal language of photography.'
Since 2003, the exhibition has been registered 'Memory of the World' by UNESCO, aiming at the preservation and dissemination of valuable archive holdings and library collections worldwide.
The Hopping Procession of Echternach
The Echternach Sprangprëssessioun (The Hopping Procession of Echternach), which takes place every Whit Tuesday in Echternach, a medieval town in eastern Luxembourg, goes back to the cult of St. Willibrordus (658-739), an Irish monk and founder of the Echternach abbey, revered for his missionary activities, good deeds and gift of healing diseases.
The procession, the first written records of which date back to 1100, starts early in the morning in the courtyard of the ancient Abbey of Echternach. Some 8,000 dancers line up in rows of 5 to 6 people, holding each other by the tip of their handkerchiefs and accompanied by singers and marching bands, as they hop two steps left, two steps right up to the tomb of St. Willibrordus in the Basilica of Echternach.
The hopping procession is not only a religious event deeply rooted in Luxembourg tradition but has over the years also become a noted cultural event, which annually attracts some14,000 pilgrims and spectators.
On 16 November 2010, the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO decided unanimously to include the Hopping Procession of Echternach on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.