ECHTERNACH - Where Thousands Dance for the Glory of God
(a description of Echternach (1913-1921) by an american visitor - source)
WHERE the grand-ducal Ardennes tumble in rocky rebellion out of the Little Switzerland and dip down to the Sure, is Echternach, gray little town of haunting memories.
No bleaching bones of chateau fortresses attract one to Echternach. Its architectural marvels are few and its peaceful scenic setting a bit disappointing after the tumultuous grandeur of the heaving highlands to the west. But Echternach is an enchanted city, medieval still, despite the encroachments of railroads and electric lights, a place of cherished tradition and splendid history.
Here the sainted Willibrord, apostle to the Ardennes, planted his cross and founded a dynasty of religious whose work in the humanization and education of the Rhineland continued for eleven hundred years. The torch which he set ablaze was a beacon light of learning in the valley of the Moselle and the gorges of Luxemburg, while seventy-one abbots succeeded one another ''spreading the gospel and teaching agriculture and good manners," as Bertholet put it, and bringing to the Ardennes glories of peaceful accomplishment no less than those that followed the brave banners of the knights back from the crusades.
The light was extinguished by the sansculottes, who took the dust from Willibrord's tomb and scattered it to the four winds. Since that time Echternach has ceased to figure as an outpost of the church. Its abbey has lost the power that accrued to it in the days of its grandeur. Its sacred buildings have been put to utilitarian uses. Its once-famous hospice has dwindled in size and usefulness. All that remains to it is tradition. But what tradition ... read more about the History of Echternach.
The chief charm of Echtemach is that it stands unchanged despite the flight of years. In mode of thought and in appearance it remains as it was hundreds of years ago, an interesting picture of life in the middleages. Automobiles have come, hundreds of them since gasolene and good roads discovered the hidden charms of the Ardennes, but Echternach's streets are still paved with ancient cobble and rough as the seaways of Finisterre.
Electric lights produced by the chuming waters in the canions of Little Switzerland have found favor in one or two interloping tourist hotels. But the tallow candle still illuminates the simple kitchen living-room of the little stone cottage. A few sequestered mansions on the outskirts of the town, property of wealthy ironmongers and cloth-makers who realize the charm of its peace, are modern enough. But Echternach the ancient disowns them. Old age frowns upon the foibles of youth.
The Sure curves about two sides of the town. Steep cliffs shelter it in a mantle of greenery. On the slopes across the river, in Prussia, hang immense tapestries of orchard and vine and wonderful mosaics of plowed field and dark forest. (continue reading - part 2/3)