National Geographic : 1970 Jul
Luxembourg, the Quiet Fortress By ROBERT LESLIE CONLY Senior Assistant Editor Photographs by TED H. FUNK I HAD NOT BEEN in the Grand Duchy of Luxem bourg one day before I heard the joke. An American couple, touring Europe by car, were driving from Frankfurt to Paris. On their way they passed a border checkpoint. The wife: "What country is this we're coming to?" The husband: "I don't know. Let's look at the map." The wife: "Never mind. We just left it." This is an exaggeration, but only a slight one. It is not difficult, driving east and west, to cross Luxembourg in half an hour. The country is, in a lumpy sort of way, pear-shaped, and at its widest bulge the pear measures only 35 miles across. North to south it's a little longer 51 miles. It is customary in writing about European countries to compare the large ones with Texas, small Like a grizzled warrior, thousand-year-old Vianden Castle symbolizes the his tory of Luxembourg, a land that has felt the march of invaders from Caesar's le gions to Hitler's panzers. Fiefdoms battled one anoth er until the beautiful and diplomatic Countess Erme sinde united them in the 13th century. Even so, Lux embourgers often bore the yoke of conquerors. Weary of foreign domination, they forged the motto: "We wish to remain what we are." Wine on the vine: Har vester gathers grapes along the Moselle River.