For a period of almost nine centuries, Luxembourg was a fortified city, and a fortress of such a scale that it merited the title "Gibraltar of the North". Then, at the Treaty of London in 1867, the Grand Duchy was declared a perpetually neutral state, and the fortress itself was dismantled over the course of the next few years. It is not surprising that the city then experienced an identity crisis. How was it to ensure that it did not fall into the depths of anonymity of a small provincial city, set aside from the main-stream of prime movers?
The city had two trump-cards to play. The first was the dismantling of its fortress. Following initial fears, it soon became clear that the demolition of the fortifications offered great prospects for expansion and growth. After long centuries of having been stifled within walls which had been constructed in the 14th. Century, the city "burst it's banks". Our ancestors knew how to make the most sensible use of this new-found freedom, as is shown by the green belt now the Municipal Park which borders the old city to the West, the residential quarters of Limpertsberg and Belair, and above all the exemplary city planning on the Bourbon plateau, with its beautiful Avenue de la Liberté. The avenue is lined with an harmonious blend of houses, of several imposing edifices (The National Savings Bank, The Railways Administration, Arbed, and The Central Railway Station) as well as some charming squares such as the Place de Paris, unfortunately ravaged during the Sixties by developers and architects who had scant regard for the architectural beauties of the past.
The second trump-card was the location of the city, encompassed on three sides by the deep valleys of the River Petrusse and the River Alzette. There are a number of view points so extraordinary that Goethe had already acclaimed them with great enthusiasm back in 1792. They have beguiled so many painters, from Turner to the luxembourgish artist such as Selig, Fresez, Liez, Kutter and so on. Tourism in the 20th. century depends for a great part on the exploitation of this location and the remains of the fortress ( for example The Casemates).