As part of our "Top 5" series, we are going to reveal five fascinating and unique locations in the capital. These hidden jewels are perhaps less well-known than the more popular destinations but they are brimming with history and waiting to be discovered!
The Saint Quirin spring and chapel
In the valley of the Pétrusse, on rue Saint-Quirin, is hidden one of the oldest places of worship in Luxembourg: It was originally a natural cave which later became a Catholic religious edifice; it is now a listed monument.
The chapel is named after Quirinus of Neuss (Quirinus of Rome), a holy martyr and saint of the Catholic Church.
In this cave, the Celts worshiped the three norns - the three goddesses of destiny - in order to make contact with the spirits of nature. Later, the Christians replaced the Celtic stones and ancient divinities with the three virgins: Fides (faith), Spes (hope) and Caritas (charity), represented on the back of a mule, as well as the three saints Quirinus, Ferreolus and Firminus, who are still on display in the chapel.
The gothic façade dates back to 1355 is still preserved to this day. It houses a small sacristy and a niche with an altar.
The most popular attraction of this pilgrimage site, is the natural spring water of the cave, which is reputed to be a remedy for skin and eye diseases.
From the 11th century, Saint Quirinus was the patron saint of the fortress and from 1455 onward he became the patron saint of the city of Luxembourg. However, in 1666, he was replaced by the Virgin Mary, the consoler of the afflicted.
The first public abattoir in Luxembourg City was opened in 1876 in the Pfaffenthal district; it was situated where the youth hostel is located today. In 1902 another abattoir opened its doors in the district of Hollerich. It was more modern than its predecessor and housed the first refrigeration system in country.
After the First World War, these two small sites were unable to cater for the increased demand for meat. When the municipality of Hollerich was integrated into the municipality of Luxembourg, the latter built a new abattoir, which incorporated refrigerators as well as a livestock market in this new district. The abattoir opened its doors on 30 December 1929. During the subsequent years, it was gradually modernised in line with the technological advances and logistical requirements. At the height of production, 120 people were employed by the company. In the 1980s, the abattoir produced 4,000 tons of meat per year.
The abattoir closed its doors on 1 August 1997. It is located on a 2.5-hectare site. Currently, it houses a skate-park, the Luxembourg Red Cross and storage facilities. It is also used as a public gallery for street artists. The city recently launched an architectural design contest to refurbish and renovate this urban museum. This site is a prime example of the architectural style of the 1930s and Luxembourg's industrial heritage.
The Spanish turret
On the Pierre de Mansfeld alley, behind the "Hondhaus" a steep path rises upwards. It leads to a special section of the old Obergrünewald fortress and reveals a Spanish turret "hidden from view". The turret is concealed behind a canopy of vegetation and a little further away from its more visible sisters in the city centre.
Historians believe that at the time there were around 43 of these "Pefferbécksen" (referred to as pepper mills in English owing to their cylindrical shape) The "hidden" Spanish turret is one of nine turrets in existence. The roofs on all nine turrets have been replaced and some of them have been completely rebuilt. They were used as a lookout over the bastion. The turrets project outwards in order to have a clear view of the bottom of the valley and offer complete protection from the wind and rain. They were used to protect the fortress from spies and to keep a watchful eye on any deserters. The first guardhouses were built during the Spanish regime. Nowadays, the turrets are not only a tourist attraction but also a popular symbol of the city.
The Péiter Onrou cave
At the top of a flight of steps at the intersection of the rue du Glacis and the côte d'Eich is the rock of Saint-Crépin ("Krispinusfiels"), an ancient and mysterious place of pilgrimage. Crispinus and his brother Crispinianus are the patron saints of shoemakers, saddlers and tanners, who were numerous in number in Pfaffenthal at the time. It is currently believed that the cave was the last station on the Way of the Cross which existed until the XVII century and which led to this location from the "Siechenhof" (Val des Bons-Malades).
This group of monuments includes a sculpture of Christ; at the foot of this statue is a grotto, which houses the statue of Péiter Onrou. It clearly symbolises Jesus Christ as the resemblance is striking. The original statue was stolen in the 17th century and replaced in the 19th century. In the middle of the 20th century it was restored and placed in the museum. Nowadays, a copy of the statute lies in its place; the grotto is protected by thick metal bars.
Placed around the statue are candles containing needles – evidence of an old superstition. The spell, which has been practiced for countless generations, is supposed to make an unfaithful husband return to his wife. Needles are placed in the candles; the candles represent the bodies of the spouses. The wick is then lit. When the flame reaches the needles, they cause a double dose of pain to the unfaithful man: a sting in the heart when the candle burns down and reaches the needle, and once again when the needle falls.
Did you know that a green and artistic maze is located in the Kirchberg park? This triangular maze by urban architect Peter Latz is situated near boulevard Kennedy, between the Coque and the playground of the central park.
The Dendrite sculpture by the Canadian artist Michel de Broin rises out from the centre of the maze. This artistic work designed in 2016 is the result of a restricted consultation organised by the Kirchberg Fund. This yellow structure is five metres high. It has four sections branching out in different directions. which are used as viewing platforms. By climbing the steps, you can appreciate views of the maze and its surroundings. Dendrite not only showcases the entrance to the park but also serves to attract visitors. The work is inspired by the branches of neurons (dendrites) and, from a distance, it looks like a massive yellow flower that has spread its leaves across the middle of this green surface.
Every two years, a second work of art is placed on display in the maze. This artistic project is the result of cooperation between the Kirchberg Fund and the Casino Luxembourg – contemporary art forum. Called "1+1", visitors can discover the new work of art for a period of two months. The next addition is earmarked for summer 2021.