Historical background of the Grünewald


It was only at the age of the Franks when the sov­er­eigns did start to ban­ish the unowned forests and trails and declare them as roy­al prop­er­ty (regalia). Those forests, which had often been trans­ferred to vas­sals as a domain, had been changed into “crown forests” (belong­ing to the crowned). Lat­er these woods became “doma­nial forests” (forests belong­ing to the sov­er­eigns before the French Rev­o­lu­tion). The Grünewald is the largest old crown for­est in Luxembourg.

The Grünewald as a ban forest

The trans­mis­sion of the util­i­sa­tion rights over the “Anven” for­est had already been men­tioned on a doc­u­ment dat­ed 1083. Lat­er the Grünewald had been cit­ed in the Char­ta of Free­dom, giv­en by the count­ess Ermesinde II (1186–1247) to the Town of Lux­em­bourg in 1244. It was men­tioned in rela­tion with the dis­po­si­tions con­cern­ing the right of tim­ber and pas­ture for the cit­i­zens and the shoot­ing right for the count­ess, who ban­ished some parts of the Grünewald.

Dur­ing the event­ful past of the Grand-Duchy, the Grünewald had been under the influ­ence of many dif­fer­ent rulers (Hab­s­burg House, Dutch Hab­s­burg, Span­ish Dutch, France, Aus­tri­an Dutch). At these times sev­er­al “for­est reg­u­la­tions” were issued which did not only con­cern the for­est super­vi­sion or for­est out­rage but also its farm­ing. With ref­er­ence to the near­ly dev­as­tat­ed sit­u­a­tion of the Grünewald, it was ordered in 1535 to set up a geo­graph­i­cal map and divide the for­est into dif­fer­ent sections.

William I (1815–1840) of the Orange-Nas­sau House sold by auc­tion major parts of the Grünewald. His suc­ces­sor William II (1840–1849) bought back big parts of the Grünewald.

The iron fac­to­ry of Dom­mel­dan­ge around 1930: in the back­ground you can see the Grünewald. Dur­ing cen­turies an impor­tant quan­ti­ty of tim­ber had been used for indus­tri­al pur­pose and the for­est had been striped of wood.

Domanial Forest

Tim­ber sup­ply of a medieval town

With the annex­a­tion of the coun­try by the French Rev­o­lu­tion troops (1794/95), Lux­em­bourg had become a part of France for a peri­od of 20 years and was called: For­est Depart­ment. The major pur­pose of the Grünewald had been to sup­ply the Lux­em­bourg fortress with firewood.

At the Vien­na Con­gress in 1815, when the Euro­pean ter­ri­to­ry had been rearranged, the Grünewald was declared a “doma­nial Forest”.

In order to get funds to pay the war debts, they did not hes­i­tate to sell by auc­tion those domains belong­ing to the State. So the Grünewald had been grad­u­al­ly sold, under the reign of the first Grand-Duke William I, head of the new Lux­em­bourg State.

In total the Grünewald rep­re­sent­ed until then a sur­face of 2554 ha and the last unsold part (679.1) should also have been sold by auc­tion, as the ordi­nary nation­al income was insuf­fi­cient to devel­op a strong and up-to-date road and train net. How­ev­er the bid was not high enough and on the 12th of Feb­ru­ary 1848 William I decid­ed to buy him the remain­ing for­est. In the frame of the new for­est man­age­ment pol­i­cy the State began, at the begin­ning of the 20th cen­tu­ry to buy back grad­u­al­ly those parts of the Grünewald that belonged until then to the sov­er­eign. Of the today 4500 ha total sur­face, 3500 ha belong to the Lux­em­bourg State and only 1000 ha to the Grand-duke.

The Grünewald nowadays

The Grünewald, nowa­days: it can be seen as the green “lung” of Lux­em­bourg City, a site of leisure and an impor­tant biotope.

The Grünewald rep­re­sents today the largest coher­ent nation­al for­est and besides its for­est, eco­log­i­cal (biotope), agri­cul­tur­al and pic­turesque qual­i­ty it rep­re­sents a very pre­cious nation­al piece of cul­ture and his­to­ry. With ref­er­ence to this truth the major parts of the Grünewald were declared nation­al mon­u­ment by a min­is­te­r­i­al deci­sion on 29 of April 1966.

Historical maps of the Grünewald

Luxem­burg 1581 Lux­em­bourg 1616 at the time of the
first Span­ish domination
Lux­em­bourg 1616 at the time of the
sec­ond Span­ish domination
Luxem­burg in 1717 at the time of the
Aus­tri­an domination
Detailed map of the Grünewald
in the year 1721
The Grünewald on the Fer­raris map
from half of the 18th century