Project 28 Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

15 November 16

Posted at 4:48

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is the second smallest country by population in the EU. Population is just above half a million (Malta has just under half a million). The capital and the town I visited is Luxembourg City boasting a population of just over 100,000. Luxembourg is one of the founding nations of the EU and has played a central role from the outset. Luxembourg City is home to institutions like the European Court of Justice, European Court of Auditors, Secretariat of the European Parliament, European Investment Bank, European Investment Fund, European Stability Mechanism and so on, I think you probably get the picture.

Cour Constitutionnelle - Cour Superieure De JusticeCour Superieur de Justice

I chose to make a day trip to Luxembourg whilst I was staying in Liege. I only gave myself seven hours to discover and photograph the city, so, excuse the pun, I wonder if that was enough time to give it justice.

My intial impressions after walking from the station was of a nondescript rather dull town. It had the feel of being populated with lawyers, bankers and civil servants. There is also a feeling of money with some massive construction projects underway. 

From the viaduct over the Pettruss Valley I spotted the Skatepark Pettruss.

Skatepark PettrusssSkatepark Pettruss

Quite an amazing, and somewhat surprising sight.

Skatepark

I made my way down into the valley to have a closer inspection.

Viaduct and SkateparkSkatepark and Viaduct

My intial thoughts were what an 'antiseptic' place it was but having found out that the skatepark only opened in July 2016 I guess after just being open for three months it would be pristine. It took twelve years to actually bring the project to fruition at a cost of over 2m €. 

Old and New Luxembourg

Luxembourg is a contrast of the old and the new and as mentioned earlier there is a lot of new construction underway. 

Old Luxembourg is centered around a honeycomb of tunnels that for centuries have served as fortification and shelter. Up to 35,000 people sheltered in the Bock Casemates during WW2.

Casemates Du BockCasemates Du Bock

The casemates were initially carved by the Spanish in the 1700s. Today it is an amazing area of tunnels and caves beneath Montee de Clausen.

CasematesBock tunnel

The lady in the tourist office assumed that the Casemates would be what I (and all other tourists) would be there to see. The casemates are well worth the visit as is the surrounding area of Old Luxembourg.

NeimensterNeimenster

 

River AlzetteRiver Alzette

 

Historic LuxembourgHistoric Luxembourg

 

In the end I only spent five hours in the city and took an earlier train back to Liege. I achieved my prime objective of documenting the city for Project 28. As time went by I found the city more interesting than my first impressions

 

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Project 28 Belgium

14 November 16

Posted at 5:05

The 5th country I visited was Belgium, the city of Liege. Liege is in the Eastern Wallonia region of Belgium. The Walloon Federal Region is one of three that make up Belgium, Wallonia as the regions government renamed it, is the French speaking part of Belgium with over 80% of French speaking nationals residing there. The federal regions of Belgium enjoy a lot of devolved powers including even setting their own foreign policy and trade agreements. I am currently unsure of how this sits in the context of the EU. Just prior to my visit Wallonia had at the eleventh hour held the other 27 countries of the EU to 'ransom over the competition of an EU trade agreement with Canada that had taken seven years to negotiate.

Gare des Guillemins 1Gare Des Guillemins

I arrived in Liege by train from Brussells. The train station, Gare Des Guillemins is a sight to behold. An ultra modern, futuristic building somewhat at odds with the surroundings but never the less creating a positive, if slightly confusing, impression of the city. The architecture worth of a couple more images I feel.

Gare Des Guillemins 2

 

Gare Des Guillemins 3

 

Paradis TowerParadis Tower

Looking from the station in the direction of the town is Gare Des Guillemins architectural soulmate the Paradis Tower (here seen from the river). A structure as equally out of place in Liege, perhaps both are an indication of the direction of future development in Liege but for now albeit impressive they look out of place.

A walk along the river Meuse towards the centre of town soon exposes more traditional and historic architecture.

Institut ZoologiqueInstitut Zoologique

And then there is the architecture that was 'modern' once upon a time

Cite AdministrativeCite Adminstrative

Then there are mixtures of old and new

Statue Le PlongeurStatue Le Plonguer

Overlooking the city is the Citadelle, the Montagne de Bueren, now the site of a hospital, for me it seemed an ideal spot to capture what is now becoming a Project 28 trademark - an ariel shot.

UntitledLiege from The Citadelle

Citadelle Steps Looking UpMontagne De Bueren

There is just a little matter of 374 steps to climb up. It's number one on the Huffington Post's list of most extreme staircases.

Citadelle Steps Looking Down

No so bad on the way down though.

La Meuse By NightMeuse by night

A walk along the river Meuse is a nice experience in Liege, at night it is transformed with each of the bridges being lit up in ever changing colours.

Belgium of course is one of the six founding nations of the EU and is home to the EU and NATO headquarters. In many ways there is much in Belgium, the way the country is divided and the way at least Walloon appears out of step with the union. It is complex! Whilst staying in Liege I had the ideal opportunity to catch a train to Luxembourg, another founding state and the next country I would visit for Project 28.

 

 

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Project 28 Latvia

08 November 16

Posted at 1:19

The fourth country I visited was Latvia and my chosen town was Riga. Another capital city although it is not my intent to concentrate on capitals it just worked out that for all three Baltic States I visited the capital. I arrived in Riga by bus from Tallinn and gained the impression that, other than Riga, Latvia consists of acres of forest.

The Freedom MonumentThe Freedom Monument, Riga

As I walked into the town in the late afternoon the first thing that struck me was this magnificent monument. The monument honours the fallen soldiers in the Latvian War of Independence (1918-20). The monument was lucky to survive the second occupation by the Soviet Union in 1940.

Latvia joined the EU on 1st May 2004 and the eurozone on 1st January 2014.

The Market, River Daugava, Telecom Tower and beyondCentral Market, River Daugava and Telecom Tower

View from St Peter's ChurchVansu bridge from St Peters Church Tower

St Peter's Church Tower offers an excellent view of the city in all directions and for once without having to climb two or three hundred steps to see it. There is a lift, mind you the entrance fee is a bit steep as I found many things in Riga were expensive compared with Lithuania and Estonia.

Central MarketCentral Market, Riga.

 The central market consists of a large open air area along with five pavilions made from Zeppelin Hangers which when moved to Riga had their height reduced to 20.5m (from 37.4m). The original height made them too susceptible to temperature change. The market covers 72.3 thousand square meters with over 3,000 stalls.

Inside a Market HangerInside a pavillion at central market

 

Latvian Riflemen MonumentLatvian Riflemen Memorial

 

George ArmitsteadGeorge Armitstead

In the garden's of the Riga Opera House is this bronze of George Armitstead, his wife and chao-chao dog. George Armistead presided as Mayor from 1902 to 1912 and surprisingly he hailed from Yorkshire! Armitstead was responsible for the modernisation and transformation of Riga in terms of architecture and elegance in the city outside of the old town. Queen Elizabeth II unveiled this statue in 2006.

Whilst in Riga I read about the Salaspils Concentration Camp  which is located just beyond the boundary of Riga. The concentration camp was run by the Nazis during WW2. The camp housed thousands of German Jews, Soviet POWs and left wing Latvians. The Salaspils Memorial on the site of the concentration camp can be reached by train to Darzini and then a walk of two or three kilometres. I took the train to Darzini and disembarked on to a lonely platform with a brick shelter and nothing else in sight apart from trees. many paths led in all directions through the woods. It took me a while to spot a tiny sign on a tree identifying the correct path to take. After a walk through the dense woods with just a couple of small signs confirming I was on the correct route I came a cross Salaspils and it was quite a shock.

Salaspils - MotherSalaspils Memorial - Mother

At the entrance there is a concrete block housing a walkway it is a 100 metre long ramp signifying a stairway to heaven. On the front of it are inscribed the words in Latvian “AIZ SIEM VARTIEM VAID ZEME” English translation “Beyond this Gate, the Earth Moans”. As you proceed passed the ramp to the left is a large black marble block which houses a metronome, the block is called the "Reminding Heart", the constant heart beat from the metronome breaks the eery silence, echoing throughout the vast area of the memorial. Ahead is a vast clearing in the forest, around the edges stone memorials and concreted slabs. In the centre there are massive stone sculptures built and left by the Soviets as a memorial. They stand in groups, square-jawed and arms outstretched, holding each other up in support, kneeling or stretching out in exhaustion across the grass.

Salaspils - SolidaritySalaspils - Solidarity

 

Salaspils - The HumiliatedSalaspils - The Humiliated

 

I have visited many war memorials around the world but have seen nothing on this scale. Being there alone with the heartbeat constantly booming is quite daunting. It creates an atmosphere provoking thoughts of what this camp meant to those imprisoned and in many cases dying there.

 

 

 

 

 

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