Friday, October 19, 2012

Luxarazzi 101: Town Hall and Place Guillaume II

Only a few hours until the civil wedding starts, to pass the time a little bit of history for you...

More than 700 hundred years ago the square that today is Place Guillaume II was the home to a church and a monastery. In vernacular the square is often called Knuedler, a name that derives from the middle ages. Knuedler comes from Knued, the Luxembourgish word for knot, meaning the knot worn in the belts of those Franciscan friars that once lived there. At the end of the 18th century, the monastery and its property was seized by the French and consequently demolished. Today, the two most prominent features of the Knuedler are the town hall and a equestrian statue of Grand Duke William II, who was also the King of the Netherlands.

Reigning from 1840 to 1849, Grand Duke William II gave the Grand Duchy its first parliamentary constitution, at the time one of the most liberal constitutions in Europe. That statue was erected in 1844 and its pedestal shows both the coat of arms of the House of Orange-Nassau and that of the city of Luxembourg, as well as the coat of arms of the twelve cantons of the Grand Duchy. In the Hague you can find a replica of the statue.

In 1795 when French troops stormed the fortress Luxembourg, the aforementioned friars had to flee their monastry that was seized by the French. Nine years later Napoleon I presented the monastery as a gift to the city of Luxembourg. The old town hall, what today is the palais grand-ducale, was occupied by the French and thus the municipal administration was constantly forced to move around. The wish to build a new town hall was formed and took shape when, in 1829, the plans were approved. A year later the construction of the neo-classical building started, remains of the monastery were used as material. The building was finished eight years later and on October 22nd, 1838 the very first municipal meeting was held. On July 15th, 1844, the Town Hall was inaugurated by King-
Grand Duke William II.

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