A region for all

The planets trail in Schifflange: head in the stars, feet on the ground!

By Frédérique Bruck

We find the De Saturn footpath near Jean Jacoby stadium, via a forest path belonging to Lalléngerbierg nature reserve, an exceptional site protected under the European “Habitats” directive. This astronomical trail has been carefully designed to make scientific knowledge accessible. The whole family are invited to enjoy a fun and instructive cultural experience.

© Emile Hengen

There are ten information panels spaced along the walk (also written in Braille), providing images and additional information on celestial bodies, enabling visitors to discover our solar system in a completely original way. The earth, sun and eight planets making up our planetary system, as well as meteors and comets, are each represented by a bronze plaque containing a wealth of information, some of which relates to mythology. These educational signs introduce the particularities of each planet and allow us to visualize its size and distance from the sun. As we follow the panels, we’re taken on a walking tour of the solar system, with our head in the stars, finding out more about meteorites, cosmic dust and dwarf planets. A word of warning, however: seeking out these panels does require some physical effort. Though easy and perfectly accessible, the trail is nevertheless a decent walk.

© Emile Hengen

An interstellar trail in a protected area of the Mining Basin
The 3.9 km long trail is perfectly signposted and landscaped, taking visitors on a walking tour of the solar system. The distances between the stars are reproduced to scale, igniting children’s imaginations as they gallop from one to the next!

It all begins with the Sun, represented by a gigantic bronze sculpture. The majority of the route then continues on an open-air plateau offering breath-taking views of the Terres Rouges region and the blast furnaces of Esch-Belval. It crosses a former mining site of Arbed (Arcelor Mittal), formed last century following the extraction of iron ore. The plateau is a protected site, home to specific flora. Its landscape is outstanding, literally marked with iron: the earth is an intense red-orange, in stark contrast to the very particular vegetation in the nature reserve. This extends over 267 hectares, straddling the municipalities of Esch-sur-Alzette, Kayl and Schifflange, and is a great place for walking, cycling or mountain biking. When it ceased to be an open-air mine, the area once resembled a lunar landscape: a dry, barren expanse of bright red ground devoid of vegetation. Little by little, nature reclaimed the space. Dry grassland has come to cover the rocky ground and bats have settled here. Visitors can now admire more than 500 species of butterfly seeking nectar from the wild orchids.

© Emile Hengen

A cosmic stroll

Cut through with cyclocross paths, the planets walk leads visitors through lush vegetation topped with red sandstone cliffs, the most impressive stretching to a height of five metres. This is a nature trail by design, bordered by young oaks, mushrooms and wild strawberries, offering truly splendid views of Minette’s typical landscapes. An exciting, educational journey for young and old alike, delighting all those who love a calm, unspoilt natural setting.