Echternach, or Eechternoach, is a town in the eastern part of Luxembourg. With the Abbey of Echternach at its center, this is considered the oldest town in Luxembourg. The town lies along the Sauer River that marks the border with Germany. On the other side of the river is the German town of Echternacherbrück. The commune of Echternach has a population of around 5.900 inhabitants.
Our Visit to Echternach
We visited Echternach during our European Road Trip in 2017. Together with our, at the time, four-month-old daughter we explored countries like Belgium, France, and Germany. While staying a few days in Metz in northern France, we headed out on a day trip to Luxembourg to explore more of this small country. During the day we also made stops in towns such as Vianden and Esch-sur-Sûre.
A Short History
The Abbey of Echternach was founded in the 7th century and was a Benedictine monastery. The abbey replaced a former smaller monastery that had been built at the site. The abbey has had a few golden ages over the centuries and has for some periods gained international influence. With the abbey prospering, the town of Echternach soon began to develop in its vicinity. By 1236 the town gained its town status and the abbey had by now produced famous scripts such as the Golden Gospels of Henry III and the Codex Aureus of Echternach.
Many of the famous scripts were sent to Paris at the end of the 18th century and both the abbey and the town entered a decline in the 19th century. The abbey was for a period used to house a porcelain factory. Another big hit came at the end of the Second World War when the town ended up at the frontline between the Allies and the German Wehrmacht.
Things to Do and See
This is one of many small picturesque towns in Luxembourg. Walking along the small narrow streets, enjoying the small squares, and maybe finding a cozy restaurant for lunch. There is plenty to enjoy and heading toward the waterfront of the Sauer River will take you to the easily accessible green areas of Echternach. Along the waterfront is not only the historical Rokoko pavilion, but you will also be able to walk along the border and see Germany just across the water.
The town’s basilica is actually a former abbey. It gained the status of a basilica in 1939 by Pope Pius XII. It was partly damaged during the Second World War but has since been restored. The basilica has stayed as the most prominent building in the town.
How to Get to Echternach
- Flights: The closest major airport is Luxembourg Airport (LUX), which can be found o the southwest close to the capital.
- Car: Echternach is located along Road E29, right at the border with Germany. The road connects the town with Luxembourg City to the southwest.