The History of Echternach



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The end of the



in Berdorf


Read more about the historical impact of the abbey

Historic buildings: Abbey, Basilica, Peter & Paul Church, Denzelt, Roman Villa, etc

By an American visitor: A description of Echternach in 1913/21

Watch a film: The destruction of the train Station in 1974

Watch a film: History of Echternach and the Mullerthal region  (in German)

Echternach nevertheless is much older than the abbey. The oldest architectural witnesses in Echternach are the remains of a Roman trading post,castle and huge villa. The Roman settlement was located at the crossroads of two roads,from Reims (Civitas Remorum) or Arlon (Orolaunum) to Bitburg (Vicus Beda) or Trier (Augusta Treverorum). But, even traces from the celts and from the stone age can be found in the region.

Unfortunately Echternach suffered enormously at the end of the Second World War, especially during the Battle of the Bulge. It was successfully restored after the war, and has since regained its place as one of the main cultural and architectural centres of the country. Having built a lake for leisure activities helped develop tourism.
Echternach, the oldest town in Luxembourg, developed around the monastery which Willibrord, an Anglo-Saxon, Benedictine monk, founded in 698 AD. Originally from Ireland, he became the first bishop of Utrecht and worked to Christianize the inhabitants this region in the center of Europe. Willibrord was Echternach monastery's abbot until his death in 739. It is in his honor that the dancing procession came into existance. The "Sprangprozessioun" attracts thousands of pilgrims from the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg every year.

Both the monastery and the town prospered over the next centuries, but especially in the 8th and 11th centuries. Then the monastery was renowned for the outstanding quality of its Scriptorium, which produced priceless books such as the Codex Aureus Epternacensis and the Codex Aureus Escorealensis and many others. Today these works are spread all over Europe. , until the monastery was dissolved in 1797, during the French revolution. The town knew a dramatic economic decline which came to an end when the tourists discovered the beauty and charm of Luxembourg's Little Switzerland (Müllerthal).

old postcard of the abbey in Echternach