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Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg

Esch-sur-Alzette is a commune with city status in south-western Luxembourg. It is the country’s second city and its second-most populous commune, with a population just under 30,000 people.

The town of Esch-sur-Alzette lies in the centre of the commune on the border with France. It is usually referred to simply as Esch, but there is also a village and commune further north named Esch-sur-Sûre from which to distinguish it. Esch lies in the valley of the Alzette, which flows through the town. The capital, Luxembourg City, is roughly 15 km (9 miles) to the north-east.

Esch-sur-Alzette is home to the National Museum of the Resistance, which contains material related to the resistance of German occupation during the Second World War. Lucien Wercollier’s striking sculpture ‘The Political Prisoner’ is positioned in its entrance hall. The story of the resistance is detailed and tells how Luxembourg’s men and women used sabotage and other means to disrupt Nazi operations. It also tells of numerous Luxembourgeois who escaped and joined the Allies, who would later recapture Luxembourg in 1944.

Other tourist attractions include the large park and the Berwart Tower, which was built in 1621.

The city is the hub of the country’s steel manufacture, with one of the largest employers being Arcelor, the world’s largest steel producer.

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Esch is part of the traditional footballing heartland in South Luxembourg and was the first place in the country to embrace the game. The first two football clubs in the country, CS Fola Esch (founded in 1906) and Jeunesse Esch (1907) both come from here. Jeunesse have been the most successful Luxembourg club, winning an unrivalled number of National Division titles and Cups. They play at Stade de la Frontière in the south of the city.

Fola meanwhile were very important in the early history of the sport in Luxembourg, winning five titles up to 1930, but have since declined. They currently play in the second-tier ‘Division of Honour’. Fola’s home stadium is Stade Émile Mayrisch in the south-east of Esch, which it shares with its sister athletics club CA Fola Esch.

Another notable sporting acclaim saw Esch-sur-Alzette host the end of Stage 2 and the start of Stage during the 2006 Tour de France.