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LuxTimes Highlights Wiltz, Home of UBI Luxembourg

Wiltz, home to UBI Luxembourg, was featured in a recent Luxemburg Times' Inside Lux section which highlights tourist attractions, restaurants, and accommodations in towns across Luxembourg.

Read an excerpt below from the original article to learn more about the history of the Wiltz castle, where UBI Luxembourg has its campus, as well as what you can expect when visiting Wiltz. We know you'll enjoy Wiltz as much as we do!

Wiltz – castles, counts, and the last windmill

by Sarita Rao 19.08.2021

Wiltz or Wolz meaning "on the creek" in Celtic and first documented as a settlement in 764AD

Photo credit: Shutterstock

A bit of history

In the heart of the Ardennes, Wiltz or Wolz, has an upper town where you’ll find its castle on a plateau, and a lower town, in the valley of the river. It takes its name from the Celtic word meaning “on the creek” and indeed there was a Celtic settlement on the River Wiltz first documented in 764AD. Under the patronage of the counts of Wiltz the settlement gained town status in 1240.

In more recent history, the town was occupied by the Nazis after the Battle of France in May 1940, and remained so until it was liberated in January 1945 by American troops.

The citizens fought hard against their occupiers, holding a general strike in August 1942 against enforced conscription into the German army. The strike started at the Ideal leather factory but soon spread to other factories in the locality. Twenty Luxembourgers including 4 teachers were executed.

From the locality, a total of 27 families were deported, and 43 young women and 164 young men were forcibly recruited into the Wehrmacht. The Battle of the Bulge also destroyed 80% of the homes in Wiltz.

David and Goliath is one theme on the National Strike Monument in Wiltz Photo: Shutterstock

The strike memorial, shaped like a lighthouse, was erected to commemorate those who died in the strike and were conscripted or deported. A memorial service is held every year on 31 August. Roger Wercollier planned the building and Lucien Wercollier, who created the stone sculptures, said that to reflect the resistance of the “small Luxembourg people against the Nazi colossus” he used David and Goliath in one relief and in a second, the strike victims falling under enemy bullets.

Wiltz was later named a Martyr Town. There is also a Sherman tank parked in the town’s main square, which was used by US forces in the liberation of Wiltz. It’s an M4-A3 series, weighing 31.6 tons.

Wiltz Castle and its Counts

The Counts of Wiltz were amongst the oldest families in Luxembourg. They originally built their castle in the valley, but its poor location left it open to attack, so the Counts chose a rocky promontory in the part of town known as OberWiltz and began to build their new residence in the 12th century.

Renaissance Wiltz Castle, finally finished in 1727 Photo: Shutterstock

In 1388 French besiegers set fire to it, prompting a larger rampart to be built. It was destroyed for a second time in 1453, this time by Philip of Burgundy. The Witches tower is the oldest remnant of the castle, dating back to 1573, and graced by a statue of Count Jan (Count John VI), the legendary armoured knight considered the guardian of Wiltz. The square tower dates back to 1626, but in May 1631, Count Jan began building his new Renaissance castle.

Work commenced in 1631 but was dogged by famine and war, so was not completed until 1720 under Count Charles-Eugene de Custine (the last count of Wiltz), with the final element, the monumental staircase to the gardens finished in 1727.

Lineage of the Counts can be traced back to Walter the First, and continued for 21 generations until the 18th century. The final Count fled the town in 1793 when French republican troops arrived, and is thought to have died some six years later. The castle was a private girls' school from 1851 and a retirement home in 1950.

Museums and windmill

Situated in 600 acres of lawns and gardens, the castle has been home to the Wiltz festival since 1953, showcasing international, classical, rock and jazz music acts in June and July.

The castle stables now house the National Museum of Brewing, tracing the history of beer production over 6,000 years. In addition to exhibitions, the museum houses the world’s smallest micro-brewery which gives a view of the brewing cycle from grain moulding, brewing and fermentation to the local spelt (known as dinkel) found in the surrounding countryside and used to brew beer since the bronze age.

Inside the castle you’ll also find the Tannery Museum, recounting the history of the leather industry that was so prominent in the town from the 1640s. There were 28 tanneries in Wiltz in 1868, of which only two survived into the second half of the 20th century before finally closing. In the interwar years, the tannery factories employed over 1,000 people, so when the final factory closed in 1963 it ended a 400-year tradition.

In the same complex is the Museum of the Battle of the Bulge. Founded in 1970, the museum covers the Ardennes Offensive from December 1944 until 21 January 1945, when Wiltz was liberated. Its founding principle is to remind visitors of the suffering of both soldiers and the town’s inhabitants and it does this through photographs, paintings, documents and war memorabilia including uniforms.

All three museums are open September to June from Monday to Saturday 9.00 to 12.00 and 14.00 to 17.00 (daily in the summer months from 9.00 to 18.00).

You can read the rest of the article here.