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La Ville D’Echternach (Luxembourg)

Fountain © Echternach

Echternach is located in eastern Luxembourg where the Sauer river forms the border between Luxembourg and Germany. It lies within the German-Luxembourgish nature park and rocky landscapes of Müllerthal, the “Little Switzerland” of Luxembourg.

The city and its abbey were founded by St Willibrord in 698 whose missionary action made it a starting point for Carolingian renaissance when he evangelised the region.


This is a town which prides itself on its cultural heritage, welcoming tourists to a centre of culture that has been attracting visitors since the middle ages.

An example of such a long lived tradition is the dancing procession of Echternach which has been held for the last 500 years and is associated with the death of the English monk, St Willibrord – although the precise reason for the connection has been lost in the mists of time. UNESCO has been asked to grant the dance a position on its list of intangible cultural heritage. The procession takes place annually on Whit Tuesday. There is slim proof that the pilgrims who flowed to Echternach when St Willibrord died might have observed a sacred dance in his honour. The hypothesis that this could have inspired a ritual procession despite the Church forbidding sacred dances well into the century of enlightenment might simply be local colour.

Flower market © Echternach

The Echternach scriptorium is housed in the old abbey founded by St Willibrord in 698. At the time the abbey was the cradle of a civilisation whose cultural and religious blossoming paved the way to the creative movement of Carolingian renaissance. Inspired by missionary zeal, the monks of Echternach installed a scriptorium in order to reproduce evangelical scrolls brought in from the Anglo Saxon isles.

Echternach has hosted an international music festival and the cultural exchanges connected to it since 1975. The international reputation of Echternach’s music festival has turned “the small town with a great past” into a high-ranking music scene in May and June. The opening of TRIFOLION, a new cultural, tourism and congress centre in April 2008 has underlined the importance of congress tourism and its impact on Echternach’s economy in the context of this event.

The town also boasts a wide variety of museums:

  • The Museum of Prehistory: a private collection exhibited in a building of which some parts date back to the 15th century traces back life in a big region in palaeolithic and neolithic times.
  • The Roman Villa (INFOFORUM): located in close proximity to the big Roman villa, this INFOFORUM describes the daily life of a Gallo-Roman family by means of life-size models in several scenes.
  • The Abbey museum: the vaulted cellars of the Benedictine abbey built between 1727 and 1734 harbour middle age manuscripts. In 1998 impressive testimonials on the cult of St Willibrord were added.
  • The documentation centre on the dancing procession: this museum was inaugurated in April 2008 and traces back the history of the dancing procession in a small indoor courtyard. The centre was welcomed by the pilgrims and supporters who flock to Echternach all year round.
  • The architectural influence of Echternach abbey: the park’s Rococo pavilion presents films, models and commentaries explaining the abbey’s influence on 18th century rural architecture.


And if the visitor would rather explore the cultural heritage of Echternach by strolling around in the fresh air, the tourist board has established a series of themed walks. Those with a clear idea of how significant the city’s history is established the walks in a bid to share the richness of the past with both local citizens and visitors.

  • Via Epternacensis: this 2.2 km circuit through the medieval centre and the main monuments was launched in 2000 with great success.
  • Bicephal eagle: a cross-border circuit launched in 2007 which shows the influence of Echternach Abbey on 18th century rural architecture.
  • Roman road: the Roman Palace of Echternach is part of the big cross-border circuit which evolved alongside the German and Luxembourgish Moselle river and was launched in 2007.
  • On the traces of St Willibrord: in the context of the celebration of St Willibrord’s Jubilee Year in 2008, a working group created an itinerary connecting religious sites dedicated to the cult of St Willibrord who evangelised the big region. On the German side, a “Willibrorduskulturweg” was presented leading to the German and Luxembourgish villages in Echternach’s proximity.

La Ville D’Echternach (Luxembourg) pdf - 257 KB [257 KB] Deutsch (de) français (fr)

Last update: 01/07/2011 | Top