Cosmopolitan, vibrant and steeped in history: the four QuattroPole cities
Four major cities in three countries: Luxembourg, Metz, Saarbrücken and Trier are situated in the cross-border metropolitan region between Germany, Luxembourg and France. Spread just an hour apart, they are all easily reachable, even on a short break. Each city has its own unique charm, yet visitors will recognise plenty of similarities as they hop from one to the other.
Luxembourg – the city of contrasts
“D’Stad”, as the just under 120,000 locals lovingly call their city, is the beating heart of Luxembourg. As an international banking centre and home to major European institutions, the metropolis has built up a reputation for being a forward-looking cosmopolitan city. Picturesque squares, cute alleyways in the Old Town, magnificent boulevards and huge parks offer the perfect places for a stroll, while countless traces of historic fortresses dotted between modern new builds put a local stamp on European flair.
Luxembourg’s cuisine is just as varied as the city itself, so regional specialities will be found alongside French haute cuisine-inspired dishes on menus in the city’s many restaurants. The people of Luxembourg are proud of their wines, especially the Riesling and the Crémant de Luxembourg – the Grand Duchy’s answer to champagne.
Metz – the city of lights
With its round 125,000 residents, Metz is a hub for major roads from northern Europe to the Mediterranean and from the Atlantic to Eastern Europe. Visitors exploring Metz for the first time are surprised by the variety of natural, architectural and cultural heritage. A walk through the city is like a journey back through the centuries: Architectural ruins from the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Classicist and Art Nouveau periods right through to the Postmodern era are a testament to the city’s multifaceted history.
In the Nouvelle Ville district, a mythical medieval style has taken shape in the 300 metre long train station building, with its halls and walls adorned with ornaments, knights and other figures. The building was constructed from 1905 to 1908 based on designs by Berlin-based architect Jürgen Kröger.
In keeping with the modern era, the city on the Moselle has also opened up to contemporary architecture. Tourists can see the work of world-renowned architects and designers in the Amphitheatre Quarter. Alongside Jean-Michel Wilmotte, who designed the Centre Metz Congrès Robert Schuman conference venue, the Amphitheatre Quarter also bears the hallmarks of Shigeru Ban, Christian de Portzamparc, Jean-Paul Viguier, Nicolas Michelin and Paul Chemetov. The Maison Heler hotel conceptualised by Philippe Starck, one of the most famous names in “New Design”, will open in Metz in the first six months of 2020. Another picture postcard landmark is the Postmodern Arsenal, designed by Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill.
Metz has always understood how to enhance the architectural value of its cultural heritage through subtle lighting, earning it the nickname “Ville-Lumière: the City of Lights”. As part of the Constellations digital arts festival held every summer, digital lighting installations illuminate the city’s architectural and cultural heritage in a spectacular way. The festival is all about digital art, which is celebrated in many ways, including dramatic light shows. The festival also organises a range of free events, including concerts, open-air shows and exhibitions.
Saarbrücken – the city of savoir-vivre on the Saar
Saarbrücken has many faces: state capital, university city, economic hub and city of cultural diversity. Alongside its 180,000 residents, half a million people live and work in the heart of Europe in the wider metropolitan region on the Saar. The city itself is relaxed, cosmopolitan with plenty of French flair. Being one of the smaller major German cities, the cost of living is more than reasonable. The St. Johanner Markt square with its boutiques, bistros, restaurants and picturesque alleyways is a popular meeting place for the people of Saarbrücken and the perfect place to relax, take a stroll and while away the time.
Saarbrücken is a green city, with locals tending to spend as much time as they can out in the fresh air. Whether you are at the tranquil gardens of Saarbrücken Castle, the 50 hectare Franco-German Garden, the Bürgerpark in the former river port area or Staden Park on the banks of the Saar, you will spot walkers, joggers and sun-worshippers all over the city.
The state capital is known for its hospitality and love of good food and drink. There is a pinch of grande cuisine to the cross-border influences of Saarland’s culinary delights, with the traditional hearty fare of Saarland’s miners and farmers also leaving its mark. Schwenkbraten (pork steaks) are a typical example of the local cuisine, while Dibbelabbes (potato hash) and Hoorische and Gefillde (potato dumplings) are some of the locals’ favourite dishes.
Trier – the city of Romans and wine
Experts describe the city on the Moselle river is the oldest in Germany. So it’s no wonder that tourists come to marvel at many ancient ruins in Trier, especially in its Old Town. Although only 115,000 residents live in Trier, it boasts an international and cosmopolitan atmosphere with its major university and crowds of tourists. The medieval Hauptmarkt square at the heart of the pedestrian zone with its historic market cross and fountain is a melting pot of the momentous past and vibrant present.
The exciting interactive tours through ancient sites are truly one of a kind. Professional actors take tourists on a journey into the past and bring gladiator fights, scheming plots and fate to life in the Roman buildings. Wines from the Moselle, Saar and Ruwer wine regions play a key role in Trier as the region’s winemakers proudly showcase their produce at many city and wine festivals. One of the city’s most notable wine festivals is the Weinforum Trier, held every January in the Thermen am Viehmarkt baths with more than 100 exhibitors from the wineries of the Moselle region.