The south of Luxembourg has long been associated with Luxembourg's industrial development. In fact, the region of The Land of the Red Rocks owes its name to the bright red colour of the ore which was, since the end of the 19th century, at the origin of the success of the iron and steel industry in Luxembourg during the industrial era. In constant evolution, particularly following the shutdown of blast furnaces in the 1990s of the 20th century, the region is demonstrating enormous dynamism in transforming its past assets into resources for both the present and the future. This is an invitation on a journey to The Land of the Red Rocks through some places that you never thought you would find in the South. Let's go!
Minett Park Fond-de-Gras, an outdoor museum
Fond-de-Gras was one of the most important mining centres in Luxembourg. It is now a great example of transforming resources of the past into a touristic heritage and learning space.
The story of this transformation is fascinating. A few years after the last mine of Fond-de-Gras was closed in 1964, volunteers committed to operate a tourist train with historical steam locomotives: the Train 1900 saw the light in 1973. A few years later, it was the turn of a former mine to reopen, which can be visited on the Minieresbunn mining train.
Love trains and keen on Luxembourgish history? The Minett Park is a must! During this visit, you will discover the valley whose sides were pierced by mining galleries; the village of Lasauvage, site of one of the oldest iron and steel installations in Luxembourg; and the two historic trains, among others. You can also have fun on the draisines (rail-bikes) along the railway line between Fond-de-Grad and Bois-de-Rodange!
A journey at the heart of human migration
Immigration played a major role in Luxembourg's economic development in the 19th century, associated in particular with mining. Visiting the Minett Park means you can browse the location, while the Documentation Centre for Human Migrations (Centre de documentation sur les migrations humaines) based in Dudelange invites you to capture the soul behind Luxembourg's success.
Without immigrants, who now make up a large part of the population in the Grand Duchy, Luxembourg would not look the same. It represents a unique remembrance place that allows you to grasp Luxembourg's society in all its diversity.
Did you know that Dudelange even had an 'Italian Quarter', Little Italy? Discover it by visiting the Documentation Centre and taking a stroll down its street!
A unique place for outdoor activities
In its transition from an industrial enclave to a tourist area, the region has also been able to showcase its unique natural landscape, which is now an invitation to outdoor activities. In fact, the old mines have become real biodiversity hot spots. The rocky remnants, low fertility substrates and warm, dry microclimate in summer have favoured the development of dry grasslands with an astonishing diversity of orchids, butterflies, birds and wild bees.
How to discover these special places? If you fancy an adrenaline kick and you are a cycling fan, why not enjoy the many mountain bike trails in the region?
Do you literally want to monkey about? Experience a treetop adventure with your family or friends in Parc l'Eh Adventures. It offers up to seven routes with different levels, so the young and old alike can take up a challenge in complete safety. The easiest route is 5 metres tall and is just what the fainthearted and beginners need. The extreme route reaches 17 metres high and features a 6-metre freefall!
If you would actually prefer a more peaceful yet active adventure, a wide range of hiking trails await you. Don't miss our article dedicated to hiking so you can discover the South of Luxembourg in style!
Esch-sur-Alzette, a cospmopolitan and green capital
The South is also a cosmopolitan region. For example, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg's second largest city, is home to over 35,000 people of over 120 nationalities! In recent years, a large number of modern and alternative cultural spaces have seen the light of day.
If you are an architecture lover, do not miss the opportunity to discover the history of the city through its facades: this architectural walk will enchant you!
If you fancy green areas in the city, Esch-sur-Alzette's Gaalgebierg is just what you need. It is much more than a municipal park: in fact, a hill features a vast forest with lots of strolls, a camping site, an animal park, a naturally frozen ice rink...
The Belval district, on the other hand, offers a beautiful approach to the industrial past. The rehabilitation of the Belval blast furnace as a tourist area is a symbol of the South's transition. Following the switch to electric power in 1993, blast furnace B in Esch-Belval, the last one still in operation in Luxembourg, was shut down. In 1997, a last symbolic casting marked the end of a great era. Blast furnace A has been available to visit since 2014. Take the staircase along the old pressure reactor and follow the information on the plant operation. A breathtaking view awaits you on the last floor!