Situated in east Luxembourg and a part of the Grevenmacher district is the commune of Echternach, bordering Germany. Although it is a commune, it received a city status in 1236 and is the oldest town in the country. A British monk of Ripon, St. Willibrord, established the Abbey of Echternach in 698 and around its walls developed the little medieval town of Echternach.
Echternach was not originally a part of Luxembourg; in fact it was a Roman occupation and had been presented to St. Willibrord by the king of the Franks, Dagobert II’s daughter Irmine. The remaining parts of the town were given to the Abbey by the king of the Franks, King Pepin. Today the River Sauer runs through the border separating Luxembourg from Germany.
Although the original buildings founded by St Willibrord were destroyed in a fire in 1017, his tomb still rests in the Romanesque Basilica that we see today. In 1737 work began in the abbey and it was rebuilt in the attractive Baroque style architecture, but once the monks were dispersed and the valuable manuscripts housed in the famous Abbey library were sold off, the city began to decline.
The establishment of a porcelain factory in the abbey made Echternach all the more forgotten. It was not until the building of a railroad that Echternach began to receive tourists to the medieval city. Today two churches stand here, the larger St. Willibrord Basilica and the smaller St Peter and Paul Church. The medieval walls of the town still stand intact, restored to its original state after it was ruined during World War II.
An annual dance procession is held in the city each year honoring the founder of the city, St. Willibrord. Also the city organizes an international music festival during summer in May-June every year, since it was started in 1975. Besides the attractive buildings in the city square, the Roman Villa of Echternach is also a place of great tourist interest with its medieval ruins from the Roman era.
Apart from this, the beautiful city attracts tourists for its picturesque views of the medieval town and the lush green environment surrounding the magnificent city. Getting around in Luxembourg is not a problem, as you can get about from the capital, Luxembourg City, to various parts of the country within hours.