The old town and fortifications of Luxembourg City have been listed as a Unesco Cultural World Heritage site since 1994. This status brings advantages, namely by attracting tourists, but it comes at a price, ministers pointed out in a joint response to a parliamentary question.
A joint response by culture minister Xavier Bettel, economy minister Étienne Schneider and infrastructure minister François Bausch published on 19 September reported that 228,758 visits to the national site www.visitluxembourg.com during the first eight months of 2017 came from people simply entering the keyword “Unesco” into a search engine.
To retain this status comes at a price--before any major works or renovations are carried out, planners must receive the green light from the world heritage body in Paris.
Maintaining the key attractions within the fortifications is also costly. Since 2001, Luxembourg invested €2.2m in the Bock Casemates (underground tunnels dating from the era when Luxembourg was a fortress city) and more than €6.3m on renovating the Rham plateau ruins (between Cents and Clausen), Jacob Tower and extending the Wenzel way walk.
It is not only the city centre that is part of Unesco. “The Family of Man” photographic exhibition, curated by former Luxembourger Edward Steichen, was in 2003 registered by the UN cultural organisation in the Memory of the World Register. The photo essay celebration of the universal aspects of the human experience brought together hundreds of images by photographers around the world. It was initiated by Steichen while he was director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art photography department. It was gifted to Luxembourg and today can be viewed in Clervaux.
Meanwhile, the dancing or hopping procession in Echternach, which takes place every year on Whit Tuesday and is based on an ancient pilgrimage tradition, was recognised as a Unesco immaterial cultural heritage in 2010.