My History Blog, Focussing mostly on Roman and Mediaeval Times


10/06/2018
  Gibraltar of the North - A Virtual Tour through Luxembourg City

The historical centre of Luxemburg lies on a rocky plateau that is surrounded on three sides by the rivers Alzette and Pétrusse which have carved out a forty metres deep valley. A settlement at the Alzette, today known as Grund, dates to the 11th century. Today, the town has spread along the rivers and to the hills on the other side of the valley, which in turn is spanned by a number of bridges. That particular situation, together with the fortifications that have been built on and into the rocks during several centuries, earned Luxembourg the nickname 'Gibraltar of the North'. The town is part of the UNESCO Cultural Heritage since 1994.

Luxembourg - a city on different levels

Sightseeing in Luxembourg City means a lot of walking uphill and downhill, either on stairs or steep lanes. There are also two elevators which lead from the valley quarters Grund and Pfaffenthal to the Upper City. The payoff are an abundance of great vistas, esp. when the weather is playing nice - sunny with some interesting cloud formations - like I did when I visited the town.

View from Grund and the Alzette to the Haute Ville

During Roman times, two road crossed on the plateau; they were protected by a watch tower and a fortelet. The rise of Mediaeval Luxembourg began with Count Siegfried of the Ardennes (whose grandmother Oda of Saxony was a cousin of Otto the Great). He acquired the lands in a exchange treaty with the the abbey of St.Maximin in Trier in 963 and built the first castle, named Lucilinburhuc, the 'little castle'.

The foundations of the first castle

During the following centuries the city expanded westward to the area where the Cathedral of Our Lady and the Grand Ducal Palace are now situated. Duke John the Blind, of Crécy fame (he fought in that battle despite his blindness, and was killed), built a wall around the upper city in 1340 which would remain until the 19th century. It was the time when the dukes of Luxembourg were also Kings of Bohemia and Holy Roman emperors - quite a rise since Count Siegfried first set his foot on that promontory.

The Bock Fortifications

The duchy and town of Luxembourg were often involved in wars due to its strategically importance, and conquered by several other countries: Burgundy, Spain, France, Austria and Prussia. They all left their additions to the fortifications over the centuries - some of those were made by general Vauban whom I mentioned in my post about Strasbourg during the time of King Louis XIV. (A more detailed post about the history of Luxembourg will follow; I have plenty of photos left.)

Casemates in the Bock Fortifications

The Bock Fortifications were added by the Austrians in 1745 at the site of the first castle. Both the Bock and Pétrusse (dating to the Spanish occupation about 1640) fortifications are run through with a system of casemates partly cut into the bedrock under the town, both serving as refuge and defense with their storage rooms and openings for canons. There once had been 23 kilometres of those, 14 kilometres are left, and part of those can be visited (the entrance is in the Bock Fortifications).

View from 'the Bock' to Grund and the Corniche (right)

The 'Bock Rock' offers some really pretty views to the districts of Grund and Pfaffenthal. The photo above shows the loveliest of the lower quarters, Grund, and - to the right - the Corniche, the balcony-like structure built above a fortification wall that expanded the natural rock defenses. It is called Europe's longest balcony - a popular place with tourists and Luxemburgians alike.

Pretty houses at the Alzette

The settlement of Grund dates to the 11th century. It was the quarter for craftsmen and manufacturers. Today the situation along the river makes for pretty vistas, but the flooding of the Alzette has long been a problem. The main church in Grund was dedicated to St.Peter who obviously protects from floods (not always successfully, though modern flood management has improved the situation).

Neumünster Abbey, seen from the upper town

The best way to see the entire abbey is from above. The orignal 11th century abbey had been destroyed by the French in the 15th century, but was re-established by Benedictine monks in 1600. It was rebuilt again in the 1680ies after another French attack. After the secularisation, the buildings have been used for various purposes, i.a. as hospital and prison. Today the buildings are used for exhibitions and other cultural purposes.

The old bridge across the Alzette

The bridge over the Alzette with the remains of watch towers and walls with arrow slits is part of the town fortifications that were begun by John the Blind (see above) and continued by his grandson Wenceslaus IV 'the Lazy' of Bohemia, King of Germany. Wenceslaus was dethroned in 1400 by the four Rhenish electors (the archbishops of Mainz, Cologne and Trier, and the Count of the Palatinate) because he proved to be useless as king. Well, at least he gave his name to that part of the town fortifications which are called Wenzelsmauer. (Wenceslaus' Wall).

Houses at the Alzette, with the Upper Town in the background

We're leaving Grund (this time by elevator) to take a closer look at the Haute Ville, the Upper Town. Its historical and present centre is the Grand Ducal Palace. The palace is a combination of the old town hall from 1572, built in the style of the Renaissance - interestingly withoug the usual steeped gable - and the weighing house of the town, dating to 1741. There had not been a ducal palace until 1890, because at first the rulers still lived in the castle and then mostly resided in Prague as Kings of Bohemia. When the House Luxembourg died out in the male line in 1437, town and land were ruled by governors of its various conquerors.

The Grand Ducal Palace

The grand ducal family lives in the castle when they are in town; they also have their offices there, as do some members of the main administration. There are also guest rooms and great halls for official events. The grand duke must have been in residence while I was there, because two guards were parading in front of the palace, instead of one.

Grand Ducal Palace, detail

When King William III (House Orange-Nassau), King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg, died in 1890, his daugher Wilhelmina succeeded him as Queen of the Netherlands, but in Luxembourg, female heritage was only possible when there was no male heir; so the duchy passed to the cadet branch, to Adolphe of Nassau-Weilburg. His son had only daughters, so Charlotte became Grand Duchess. She married Felix of the House Bourbon-Parma and had - among other children - a son, Jean, His son Henri is the present Grand Duke of Luxembourg, of House Nassau-Weilburg in the cognatic, and of House Bourbon-Parma in the agnatic line.

A narrow lane in the upper town

The quarter around the palace and the Fishmarket is the oldest, and the fish market was the first market in town. Already the Roman roads crossed here. The place is just a few steps from the first castle, now the Bock Fortifications. You can also see how confined the space on the plateau is, leaving little space between the houses.

A pretty corner at the Fishmarket

All those wars resulted in a lot of damage; few houses date as far back as the Renaissance; a lot are Neoclassical. The main place, Place Guillaume or Knuedler in Luxembourgish, is a grand sight. Unfortunately, there was the annual Octav Celebration in honour of the Holy Virgin going on, and a lot of carousels and booths had been put up on the place - not good for photographing.

St.Michael's Church, interior

St.Michael is the oldest church in Luxembourg City, situated close to the castle. The first building dates to the 10th century, but various damages led to rebuilding and repairs in a more 'modern' style, therefore the present church, dating mostly to the 16th century, is a mix of Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque elements.

The cathedral Notre Dame

The cathedral dates to the late Gothic (1621) with an additional choir in the Neogothic style which was added between the World Wars. The towers date to that time as well.

When Luxembourg was declared a neutral state in 1867, part of the fortifications had to be razed (actually, it should have been all of it, but that proved impossible) and oddly, the church towers as well. Therefore, the town lacked a landmark. The towers of the cathedral are today the 'crown of the old town'. Though I could not get inside the church due to the Octav celebrations.

View to the Beck Fortifications and the Pétrusse Valley

We go back to the still impressive fortifications. The Beck Fortifications date to the Spanish occupation around 1644. To the left you can see the Place de la Constitution with the Gëlle Fra (the Golden Lady; left) on the huge pillar, and more booths due to the Octav. To the right you can glimpse the Passerelle, the viaduct bridge across the Pétrusse valley connecting the upper town with the station quarter; it dates to 1860.

The Golden Lady was erected after WW1 in commemorial of the fallen. It was hidden during WW2 and and is now a monument for peace.

Holy Spirit Citadel

The Holy Spirit Citadel is situated near the confluence of the Pétrusse into the Alzette, at the entrance to Grund. It is part of Vauban's work (see above). There had been a nunnery on the site since 1234, then still outside the fortifications. It was later included in the walls John the Blind built. I could not figure out when the nunnery was abandoned - likely at the time the bastions were added - but I found out that the remains of the building were dismantled in the 18th century. They obviously had been used as barracks during Vauban's time.

Towers on the Rham Plateau

The Rham-Plateau opposite the 'Bock Rock' had been included in the city walls during the time of King Wenceslaus in the early 15th century (who may have been a lazy king, but not so bad at commissioning walls). The impressive half-towers date to the time of Vauban who built defenses and barracks there in 1684. The towers had been razed, but were recently restored.

The 'Hollow Dent' Tower

The 'Hollow Dent' is a fortification tower that has been only partly razed, giving it the impression of a Mediaeval ruin. The Luxemburgian middle finger to the razing order. ;-)

Clouds over the European Quarter

The Kirchberg had been a little village until the 1960 when new space was needed for buildings of the EC administration. Those developed into the modern tower buildings of the European Court of Justice, the European Commission, the Court of Auditors and the European Investment Bank with their glass facades.

View towards Grund

I'll leave you with a final view over Luxembourg City from a different angle. I hope you liked the little tour.
 
Comments:
Hach, herrlich, das jetzt hier bei Dir zu lesen. Da wollte ich irgendwie auch immer noch einmal hin :-)
Liebe Grüße von der Silberdistel
 
Liebe Silberdistel,
Luxemburg ist auf jeden Fall eine Reise wert.
 
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The Lost Fort is a history blog based on my journeys in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and other places. It includes essays on Roman and Mediaeval history and architecture, as well as some Geology, illustrated with my own photos of old castles and churches, Roman remains, pretty towns and beautiful landscapes.

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Location: Goettingen, Germany

I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who still hasn't got an Instagram account.
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Medieaval Braunschweig, Introduction
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Erfurt
A Virtual Tour through Mediaeval Erfurt

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St.Mary's Abbey - An Austere Archbishop
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Paderborn
A Virtual Tour through Mediaeval Paderborn

Speyer
The Cathedral: Architecture
Cathedral: Richard Lionheart in Speyer
Jewish Ritual Bath

Xanten
A Virtual Tour through Mediaeval Xanten
The Gothic House

Towns in the Harz

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A Virtual Tour through Mediaeval Goslar

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A Virtual Tour through Mediaeval Quedlinburg
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The Harbour

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The Harzburg and Otto IV

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Origins of the Counts of Hohnstein
The Family Between Welfen and Staufen
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Regenstein
Introduction
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Introduction
History

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Weidelsburg
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Castles in Lower Saxony

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The Great Hall of Hardeg Castle

Hardenberg
Introduction

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Castles in the Solling
Salzderhelden - A Welfen Seat
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Role of the Castle in Thuringian History

Castles in the Eichsfeld
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Castle Scharfenstein

Hanstein
Introduction
Otto of Northeim
Heinrich the Lion and Otto IV
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Introduction

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A Virtual Tour

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Polle
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The Old Town

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A Virtual Tour through Mediaeval Bruges

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A Virtual Tour through Mediaeval Ghent

Tongeren
Roman and Mediaeval Remains

Luxembourg

Luxembourg City
A Virtual Tour of the Town


France

Strasbourg
A Virtual Tour of the Town


Other Times

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Open Air Museum Oerlinghausen

From Stone to Bronze
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Gnisvärd Ship Setting on Gotland

Pre-Historic Orkney
Ring of Brodgar - Introduction
Ring of Brodgar - The Neolithic Landscape
Skara Brae
Life in Skara Brae


Post-Mediaeval Times

Powder and Steam

Development of Weapons
Historical Guns

Steampunk and Beyond
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Vintage Car Museum, Wolfsburg


- Germany
- United Kingdom
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Beautiful Germany

The Baltic Sea Coast
The Flensburg Firth
Rugia - Jasmund Peninsula and Kap Arkona
A Tour on the Wakenitz River

Harz National Park
Arboretum (Bad Grund)
Bode Valley and Rosstrappe Cliff
Ilse Valley and Ilse's Rock
Oderteich Reservoir
Rappbode Reservoir
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Nature Park Meissner-Kaufunger Wald
Hessian Switzerland

Nature Park Solling-Vogler
The Hutewald Forest
The Raised Bog Mecklenbruch

Thuringian Forests
Oberderdorla and Hainich National Park

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The Danube in Spring
Edersee Reservoir
A Rainy Rhine Cruise
River of the Greenest Shores - The Moselle
Vineyards at Saale and Unstrut

Parks and Palaces
Botanical Garden Göttingen
Hardenberg Castle Gardens
Wilhelmsthal Palace and Gardens

Wildlife
Harz Falcon Park
Ozeaneum Stralsund: The Baltic Sea Life
Ozeaneum Stralsund: The North Sea Life

Seasons

Spring
Spring at the 'Kiessee' Lake
Spring in the Rossbach Heath (Meissner)

Summer
Memories of Summer
Summer Hiking Tours 2016

Autumn
Autumnal Views from Castle Windows
Autumn Photos from Harz and Werra
Autumn in the Meissner
Autumn at Werra and Weser

Winter
Spectacular Sunset
Winter at the 'Kiessee' Lake
Winter Wonderland - Views from my Balcony


Across the Channel - United Kingdom

Mountains and Valleys
Sheep Grazing Among Roman Remains
West Highland Railway

The East Coast
By Ferry to Newcastle
Highland Mountains - Inverness to John o'Groats
Some Photos from the East Coast

Scottish Sea Shores
Crossing to Mull
Mull - Craignure to Fionnphort
Pentland Firth
Staffa
Summer Days in Oban
Summer Nights in Oban

Wild Wales - With Castles
Hazy Views with Castles
Shadows and Strongholds
Views from Castle Battlements

Wildlife
Sea Gulls


Land of Light and Darkness - Scandinavia

Norway

The Hurtigruten-Tour
A Voyage into Winter
Along the Coast of Norway - Light and Darkness
Along the Coast of Norway - North of the Polar Circle

Norway by Train
From Oslo to Bergen
From Trondheim to Oslo

Wildlife
Bearded Seals
Dog Sledding With Huskies
Eagles and Gulls in the Trollfjord


Shores of History - The Baltic Sea

Baltic Sea Cruise

Lithuania

Nida and the Curonian Spit
Beaches at the Curonian Spit




Historia
Geologia

Comblogium (Blog Roll)
Conexiones (Links)

- Roman History
- Mediaeval History
- Other Times / Miscellanea


Roman History

Wars and Frontiers

Maps
Romans in Germania

Traces of the Pre-Varus Conquest
Roman Camp Hedemünden
New Finds in 2008

The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
Museum Park at Kalkriese

The Battle at the Harzhorn
Introduction

Along the Limes
Limes Fort Osterburken
Limes Fort Saalburg

Roman Frontiers in Britain
Hadrian's Wall

Rebellions
The Batavian Rebellion

Roman Militaria

Armour
Early Imperial Helmets
Late Roman Helmets
The Negau B Helmet

Weapons
The pilum
Daggers
Swords

Other Equipment
Roman Saddles

Life and Religion

Religion
The Mithras Cult
Isis Worship
Curse Tablets and Good Luck Charms

Everyday Life
Bathing Habits
Children's Toys
Face Pots
Styli and Wax Tablets

Public Life
Roman Transport - Barges
Roman Transport - Amphorae and Barrels
Roman Water Supply

Roman villae
Villa Rustica Wachenheim

Miscellaneous
Legend of Alaric's Burial


Mediaeval History

Feudalism
Feudalism, Beginnings
Feudalism, 10th Century
The Privilege of the deditio
A Note on handgenginn maðr

The Hanseatic League
Introduction and Beginnings
Stockfish Trade


Germany

Geneaologies

List of Mediaeval German Emperors

Geneaology
Anglo-German Marriage Connections
Heinrich the Lion's Ancestors

Biographies

Kings and Emperors
King Heinrich IV
Emperor Otto IV, Introduction

Princes
Otto the Quarrelsome of Braunschweig-Göttingen
The Dukes of Braunschweig-Grubenhagen
Otto of Northeim
The Ludowing Landgraves of Thuringia
Albrecht II and Friedrich I of Thuringia

Counts and Local Lords
The Marshals of Ebersburg
The Counts of Everstein
The Counts of Hohnstein
The Lords of Plesse
The Counts of Reichenbach
The Counts of Winzenburg

Famous Feuds

Local Feuds
The Lüneburg Succession War
The Thuringian Succession War - Introduction
The Star Wars

Royal Troubles
Otto IV and Bishop Adalbert II of Magdeburg


England and Normandy

From the Conquest to King John

Normans, Britons, and Angevins
The Dukes of Brittany and the Honour of Richmond

From Henry III to the War of the Roses

Great Fiefs
The Earldom of Richmond and the Duchy of Brittany


Scotland

Kings of Scots

House Dunkeld
Malcolm III and Northumbria
Struggle for the Throne: Malcolm III to David I
King David and the Civil War (1)
King David and the Civil War (2)

Houses Bruce and Stewart
Robert the Bruce and Stirling Castle
The Early Stewart Kings

Scottish Nobles and their Quarrels

Clan Feuds
MacLeans and MacDonalds
A Scottish Wedding


Wales

Princes and Rebels

The Princes of Gwynedd
The Rise of House Aberffraw

The Rebellions
From Llywellyn ap Gruffudd to Owain Glyn Dŵr


Scandinavia

Kings and Vikings

Kings of Norway
King Eirik's Scottish Marriages

Famous Nobles and their Feuds
Alv Erlingsson of Tønsberg


Other Times / Miscellanea

Neolithicum to Iron Age

Scandinavia and Orkney
The Neolithic Landscape of Orkney
Life in Skara Brae
Ship Setting on Gotland

Post-Mediaeval History

Discoveries
Otto von Guericke and the Magdeburg Hemispheres
Raising a Wreck, Now and Then (Vasa Museum in Stockholm)

Explorers
Fram Expedition to the North Pole
Fram Expedition to the South Pole

History in Literature and Music

History in Literature

Biographies of German Poets and Writers
Theodor Fontane

Historical Ballads by Theodor Fontane (my translation)
Archibald Douglas
Gorm Grymme
Sir Walter Scott in Abbotsford
The Tragedy of Afghanistan

My own Novels in Progress
The Roman Trilogy
The Saga of House Sichelstein
Kings and Rebels

History in Opera

Belcanto and Historicism
Maria Padilla - Mistress Royal
The Siege of Calais in Donizetti's Opera

Fun Stuff

Not So Serious Romans
Aelius Rufus Visits the Future Series
Building Hadrian's Wall
Playmobil Romans

Royal (Hi)Stories
Kings Having a Bad Hair Day
The Case of the Vanished Wine Cask

Historical Memes
Charlemagne meme
Historical Christmas Wishes
New Year Resolutions
Aelius Rufus does a Meme
Rules for Writing Scottish Romances

Funny Sights
Tourist Kitsch in St.Petersburg


Geological Landscapes

The Baltic Sea
Geology of the Curonian Spit
Chalk Cliffs on Rugia
Flint Fields on Rugia

The Harz
Bode Valley and Rosstrappe Cliff
The 'Hübichenstein' Rock
Karst Formations in the Southern Harz
The Lonau Falls
The Rhume Springs

Meissner / Kaufunger Wald
Blue Dome near Eschwege
Diabase and Basalt Formations
Karst Formations

Solling-Vogler
Raised Bog Mecklenbruch
Hannover Cliffs

The Shores of Scotland
Staffa

Palaeontology

Fossils
Ammonites


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Links leading outside my blog will open in a new window. I do not take any responsibility for the content of linked sites.

History Blogs - Ancient

Roman History Today
Ancient Times (Mary Harrsch)
Bread and Circuses (Adrian Murdoch)
Following Hadrian (Carole Raddato)
Mike Anderson's Ancient History Blog
Mos Maiorum - Der römische Weg
Per Lineam Valli (M.C. Bishop)
Zenobia (Judith Weingarten)

Digging Up Fun Stuff
The Anglo-Saxon Archaeology Blog
Arkeologi i Nord
The Journal of Antiquities (Britain)
The Northern Antiquarian
The Roman Archaeology Blog

History Blogs - Mediaeval

Þaér wæs Hearpan Swég
Anglo Saxon, Norse & Celtic Blog
Casting Light upon the Shadow (A. Whitehead)
Norse and Viking Ramblings
Outtakes of a Historical Novelist (Kim Rendfeld)

Beholden Ye Aulde Blogges
A Clerk of Oxford
Daily Medieval
Historical Britain Blog (Mercedes Rochelle)
Magistra et Mater (Rachel Stone)
Michelle of Heavenfield (Michelle Ziegler)
Senchus (Tim Clarkson)
Viking Strathclyde (Tim Clarkson)

Royal and Other Troubles
Edward II (Kathryn Warner)
Henry the Young King (Kasia Ogrodnik)
Piers Gaveston (Anerje)
Lady Despenser's Scribery
Simon de Montfort (Darren Baker)
Weaving the Tapestry (Scottish Houses Dunkeld and Stewart)

A Mixed Bag of History
English Historical Fiction Authors
The Freelance History Writer (Susan Abernethy)
The History Blog
History, the Interesting Bits (S.B. Connolly)
Mediaeval Manuscripts Blog
Mediaeval News (Niall O'Brian)
Time Present and Time Past (Mark Patton)

Thoughts and Images

Reading and Reviews
Black Gate Blog
The Blog That Time Forgot (Al Harron)
Parmenion Books
Reading the Past
The Wertzone

Imaginations
David Blixt
Ex Urbe (Ada Palmer)
Constance A. Brewer
Jenny Dolfen Illustrations
Wild and Wonderful (Caroline Gill)

German Travel Blogs
Alte Steine
Meerblog
Reiseaufnahmen
Sonne und Wolken
Teilzeitreisender
Travelita
Unterwegs und Daheim

Highland Mountains
The Hazel Tree (Jo Woolf)
Helen in Wales
Mountains and Sea Scotland

The Colours of the World
Shutterbugs


Research

Archaeology
Past Horizons
Archaeology in Europe
Orkneyar

Roman History
Deutsche Limeskommission
Internet Ancient Sourcebook
Livius.org
Roman Army
Roman Britain
The Romans in Britain
Vindolanda Tablets

Not so Dark Ages
Burgundians in the Mist
Viking Society for Northern Research

Mediaeval History
De Re Militari
Internet Mediaeval Sourcebook
Kulturzeit
The Labyrinth
Mediaeval Crusades
Medievalists.Net

Castles
Burgenarchiv
Burgerbe
Burgenwelt
Exploring Castles
The World of Castles

Miscellaneous History
Heritage Daily
The History Files

Mythology
Ancient History
Encyclopedia Mythica

Online Journals
Ancient Warfare
The Heroic Age
The History Files

Travel and Guide Sites

Germany - History
Antike Stätten in Deutschland
Burgenarchiv
Strasse der Romanik

Germany - Nature
HarzLife
Naturpark Meissner
Naturpark Solling-Vogler

England
English Heritage
Visit Northumberland

Scotland
The Chain Mail (Scottish History)
Historic Scotland
National Trust Scotland

Books and Writing

Interesting Author Websites
Bernard Cornwell
Dorothy Dunnett
Steven Erikson
Diana Gabaldon
Guy Gavriel Kay
George R.R. Martin
Sharon Kay Penman
Brandon Sanderson
J.R.R. Tolkien
Tad Williams

Historical Fiction
Historical Novel Society
Historia Magazine

Writing Sites
Absolute Write
TheLitForum.com
National Novel Writing Month


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