Nature reserves: Natur- & Geopark Mëllerdall - a geological masterpiece

The Natur- & Geopark Mëllerdall is located in the central and eastern part of the country, in the Mullerthal region, also known as Luxembourg's Little Switzerland. Created in 2016, it covers an area of 256km2 and forms the border with Germany. Approximately 25,800 inhabitants live in the 11 municipalities, which work together to protect nature and foster economic development in the territory. Without a doubt, it’s the perfect destination if you're looking for mesmerising geological landscapes and breath-taking scenery. It's hardly surprising that the Natur- & Geopark Mëllerdall has been part of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network since 2022!

Natur- & Geopark Mëllerdall, a geological masterpiece with UNESCO status

The Natur- & Geopark Mëllerdall is characterised by its broad diversity of scenery, with deep valleys and rolling hills and above all by its sandstone and dolomite rocks. This green and lush landscape includes the valleys of the Ernz Noire, Ernz Blanche and Basse-Sûre.

Luxembourg sandstone

The Luxembourg sandstone rock formations of the Natur- & Geopark Mëllerdall are amongst the most spectacular in western Europe. When the different layers of rock were formed over 200 million years ago, this region was below sea level. The sea has long since disappeared and has been replaced by rivers that have sculpted the park's distinctive rocky landscape. Still today, the park's fascinating scenery offers a deep insight into its history. Luxembourg sandstone also plays a major role in the region, such as supplying drinking water.

What is a nature reserve?

A nature reserve is an area of at least 5,000 hectares incorporating a natural and cultural heritage of great significance. Its creation, planning and management must pave the way for the conservation, restoration and promotion of the natural and cultural heritage. Moreover, its objective is to provide the reserve's inhabitants with opportunities for sustainable economic and socio-cultural development that respects this national heritage.

What is a UNESCO Global Geopark?

In April 2022, the Natur- & Geopark Mëllerdall officially became part of the UNESCO network of global geoparks. A UNESCO Global Geopark is an area with significant geological heritage of international value. A large number of geoparks in the UNESCO network are helping to raise awareness of geological risks such as volcanic activity, earthquakes and tsunamis, and are developing strategies to mitigate these dangers within local communities. Moreover, UNESCO global geoparks keep records of climate change in recent years. They serve as educators on current climate change as well as adopting best environmental practices to utilising renewable energy and employing the best standards of green tourism.

Currently, the Natur- & Geopark Mëllerdall is composed of 11 member municipalities: Beaufort, Bech, Berdorf, Consdorf, Echternach, Fischbach, Heffingen, Larochette, Nommern, Rosport-Mompach and Waldbillig. Since September 2021, the park has been working closely with the municipality of Reisdorf in order to bring it on board. In cooperation with the State, these municipalities form the Syndicat pour l'aménagement et la gestion du parc, which manages the conservation and development of the park. These activities are carried out via various nature conservation projects in the fields of agriculture, culture, tourism and environmental education. They provide a wide range of opportunities to explore the park!

How to explore the Natur- & Geopark Mëllerdall

Explore the natural environment

Without a doubt, hiking is the best way to uncover the beauty of the Natur- & Geopark Mëllerdall:

  • The Mullerthal Trail is simply breath-taking! The 112km route is divided into three routes, each with its own unique characteristics:
    • Route 1 (36km) showcases the varied landscape: rocks, forests and meadows.
    • Route 2 (38km) leads hikers past spectacular rock formations.
    • Route 3 (38km) is characterised by rock formations, enchanting valleys and romantic castles.
  • The four ExtraTours of Mullerthal Trail offer shorter, easier routes for less experienced hikers.
  • Circular walks and local trails, which are much less technically and physically demanding, are also worth exploring.
  • Geo Pads (geological trails) allow visitors to discover the park's main attraction: geology. For example, the Geo Pad Hëlt (4km), which covers one of the reserve's 22 geosites.

The Mullerthal Trail has been awarded the Leading Quality Trails - Best of Europe label by the European Hiking Federation.

Another interesting alternative is to explore the Mullerthal by bike:

Discover national heritage

Many magnificent castles rise above the landscape in the various municipalities in the nature reserve:

  • Larochette castle is a sight to behold; certain parts of the building date back to the 11th century. Located on a sandstone promontory, it overlooks the village and dominates the Ernz Blanche valley.
  • Beaufort castles house the ruins of the medieval fortress and a Renaissance palace on its grounds. In summer, the venue hosts several open-air concerts.

Nestled in the town of Echternach, the capital of the region, are two amazing architectural treats:

  • Firstly, the Roman villa, one of the largest and richest rural estates in the Trier-Augusta Treverorum region. The villa can be visited in summer and guided tours are also available.
  • Secondly, the Saint Willibrord Basilica, a Merovingian crypt housing the tomb of the founder of Echternach Abbey. If you pay a visit the city on Whit Tuesday, you can take part in the hopping procession or Sprangpressessioun, recognised as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO.

If you are a science enthusiast, you must visit the Tudor Museum in Rosport-Mompach. Part science centre and part traditional museum, it's the perfect location to delve into the life of Henri Tudor - an internationally renowned Luxembourgish inventor - and his discoveries.

Would you like to explore other nature reserves? Check out the portal of Luxembourg's nature reserves, where you will find a wide range of publications to help you to plan your journey.