Echternach is one of the cantons of the tiny Duchy of Luxembourg in Western Europe. Echternach is also the name of the town that is the capital of the canton. It is a border town, just across the River Sauer from Germany. The town of Echternach dates back to the 7th century when an abbey was founded here by St. Willibrord, and is the oldest community in Luxembourg. The principal attraction in Echternach is the great Benedictine monastery. It was of considerable cultural influence in the Middle Ages because of its large scriptorium. The basilica and other abbey buildings form an impressive architectural ensemble. The Basilica of St. Willibrord has a Carolingian crypt. Inside is a stone sarcophagus with relics of St. Willibrord. In the chancel, traces are still visible of frescoes depicting the life of the Virgin Mary. Much of the church was destroyed in World War II, but it has been beautifully restored. The Abbey Museum tells the story of Echternach’s past. Visitors also learn how the beautiful manuscripts of the Middle Ages were created. On the edge of town you can see the remains of a 1st century Roman villa.
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