Discovering Europe's historical roots in Schengen
By Bernd F. Meier Jun 1, 2010, 23:30 GMT
Schengen, Luxembourg - The small wine-making village of Schengen in south-eastern Luxembourg is situated near the point where the borders of Germany, France and Luxembourg meet.
Until 25 years ago, virtually no-one in Europe had heard of the area but it became famous on June 14, 1985, when the Schengen Agreement was signed by Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
The agreement was signed on board the cruise ship Princesse Marie-Astrid and originally created independently of the European Union.
It was supplemented by the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement five years later, providing for the removal of systematic border controls between the participating countries.
The Amsterdam Treaty of 1997 incorporated the Schengen Agreements into the mainstream of European Union law and the Schengen Area currently consists of 25 European countries.
Now for June's 25th anniversary of the original deal, the village of just 540 inhabitants is sprucing itself up with a new promenade along the Moselle river with stunning views of neighbouring Saarland in Germany.
A European museum is set to open in the new information centre on June 13, showing documentation relating to the Schengen Agreement as well as a history of customs and excise in the region.
Another outdoor exhibition runs until September 15 and allows visitors to view 55 large-scale photographs, which have been placed on houses and garden walls throughout the village.
Under the title 'A European wine-village and its inhabitants,' photographer Marc Schoentgen depicts in black and white photographs the daily lives and duties of the village's inhabitants.
The two exhibitions are not the only things in place to celebrate the anniversary.
On July 17 and 18, thousands are expected in the village and the surrounding areas of Remerschen, Perl, Sierck-les-Bains, Kirsch-les-Sierck, Manderen and Apach to enjoy a ramble traversing the three countries before sampling the culinary delights of the region at a food festival in Schengen.
Perl in Saarland is home to Villa Borg which shows how life was in the area 1,800 years ago as the Romans settled along the Moselle and Saar rivers.
Also worth considering is a weekend trip along Luxembourg's upper Moselle region where bikes can be hired at 11 points along a 42-kilometre wine route between Schengen and Wasserbillig.
Wine tasting at some of the co-operatives or at private vineyards, where among others the regional Auxerrois white wine can be sampled, marks the perfect end to a short holiday. The Cremant de Luxembourg sparkling wine is another speciality of the area.
This summer, Perl vineyard owner Thomas Schmitt is offering a culinary three-country walking tour through Germany, France and Luxembourg on June 12 and 13. The tour starts in Perl before crossing over to the French village of Belmach and on to Contz before ending in Schengen.
On the way, walks can enjoy goat's cheese, Schinkentorte (ham tart) and fish from the Moselle, naturally washed down with some of the fine local wine.
Small museums also dot the area such as the folklore and toy collection at A Possen in the village of Bech-Kleinmacher. The Malbrouck Castle in nearby Lorraine is showing works by the artist Niki de Saint Phalle until August 29.