Sunday under the city: The Aqua Tunnel

We love living in Luxembourg, but we haven’t always made the most of the various opportunities to enjoy the local culture. As part of the 2011 Bakker Betterment Program, we committed to take advantage of the random local cultural events. I’m proud to say in January we wandered out not once, but twice, to enjoy some small slices of our adopted homeland. Will is going to tell you about the first. (If he ever gets his post finished, that is. I knew buying the companion guidebook would only lead to analysis paralysis.) I’m going to tell you about our second adventure: The Aqua Tunnel.

Faithful Tumblr followers might remembering seeing a post that the city was opening the tunnel for just a few hours one Sunday. I’ll be honest – it wasn’t the tunnel that I thought we were going to get to see. I thought it would be the tunnel under the Petrusse River that once connected two sets of casemates. Instead, we saw a tunnel that is under the ENTIRE old city. For those who have been lucky enough to come to (or live in) Luxembourg, we can be more specific: we walked directly under the old city plateau. So it wasn’t “ancient rocky fortress” cool but “we’re really walking right under all that” cool.

Now, if Will were writing this post, you could count on some awesome maps, some historical details and an over-arching theme. Me, I’m going to show you a map I whipped up with powerpoint and a couple stars and prattle on a bit.

[Ed. – It was awful! She sent me this PDF file that I had to re-convert, and I’m concerned about copyright violations — please don’t sue us, Ville de Luxembourg, and thank you for the map — and the stars look flattened because powerpoint is not an appropriate tool to make illustrations.]

At the yellow star (close to the Golden Lady), we entered the tunnel. The dotted line follows our path under the city (or a close approximation). The red star is where we popped out.

I’m not positive, but I think that every third person in Luxembourg came out that day. The critics agree. See the line?

It took less time than you would think before we entered the tunnel. As this is an underground tunnel, the photos aren’t going to be so exciting. But we’ll show you what we can! (Very low light photography is very hard. We’ll just call it “artistic” okay?)

The tunnel is big and easy to move through, as long as people didn’t cluster.

But what’s that, you say? Aren’t there supposed to be exhibits to learn about water and other water-related matters? Well, yes, there are – and they are perfect to cluster around!

The tunnel is over one kilometer long, and for the most part, it was very clean and tidy. At this point, it does not surprise me that the underground tunnels in the Ville are neater than my garage.

We enjoyed looking at some of the displays, but there were so… many… people….

Mainly we enjoyed the walk. Maps hung here and there allowed us to see where we were along the way.

Towards the end, I teased Will, saying, “The only thing this tunnel needs to make it a traditional Luxembourg experience is a band and someone selling sausages and beer.” Not long after that, I heard the music and smelled the meat. Indeed, close to the end of the tunnel was a band playing next to the refreshment stand, where you could get your sausage and drinks.

Overall, it was not the most impressive Luxembourg outing we’ve had. However, I’m glad we did it because (1) it is awesome to walk underneath the area that I work in everyday and (2) we confirmed our suspicion that the only way to get locals to come out is to serve food and drink!

If you’re lucky enough to be in Luxembourg on February 13th, the Aqua Tunnel will be re-opened, by popular demand. Is there a better way to start Valentine’s Day with your loved one? Or to celebrate World Water Day a little early?

If Will is really sweet, he’ll work up a Flickr set tomorrow, and link to it in the comments. Until then, the polyglots can enjoy video, while English-only underachievers are stuck with a few snapshots from a local website.

6 Comments to “Sunday under the city: The Aqua Tunnel”

  1. The Expatresse said...
    2 February 2011

    Sausages and beer. Of course!

  2. Jaime said...
    3 February 2011

    This is SO completely cool that I am squirming in my seat and am desperately sad that I can’t be in Lux next weekend. Le sigh.

    Sincerely, a loyal tumblrist and English-only underachiever

  3. Mike said...
    4 February 2011


    sorry to bring bad news, but there is no (old) underground tunnel under the petrusse, linking the casemates on both sides.

    there was a dam though and at the bottom of the dam was a tunnel linking both sides (and therefore the casemates). the entries to the casemates on both sides are closed by doors today, which you can spot easily (on the south side, it’s up some stairs, on the north side it’s at the bottom of the valley).

    a similar dam+tunnel existed on the alzette as well, and can still be seen.

    the remainders are still accessible for the FFGL, and they’re doing tours there every now and then.

  4. Doug said...
    4 February 2011

    Strangely I am desiring some more factual information on what the tunnel was originally used for and when it was built and how it got there. It might be precedent setting that Will’s brother actually wants some of his usual dithering rather than Anita’s succient summaries.
    Interesting stuff though. Glad you two are enjoying it all!

  5. Dave said...
    4 February 2011

    Why do they call it the Aqua tunnel? It just seems like a tunnel under the city… what does that have to do with Water?

  6. Will said...
    4 February 2011

    Thank you, Mike for the correction. With your information, and the curiosity of Doug and Dave, it sounds like we need a Part Two!

    In the meantime, you can see more photos of our walk under the city on Flickr: