In my last post I talked a little about our recent stay in Luxembourg. While we were staying at our hotel we ventured out for dinner to a little town called Diekirch. I had read a tiny bit about Diekirch when researching things to do on our trip, but apart from a military museum (which had some cool old tanks out the front) didn’t know much about the place. I was pleasantly surprised to find another picturesque little town with some lovely churches, charming alleys, cute buildings and a big mystery!
The little donkey on the church steeple to the left (in the picture below) caught my eye; usually you see roosters. I thought it was cute but didn’t think much else about it at first…
As we wandered along some little side-streets deciding where to eat we came into a busy square lined with restaurants, bars and cafes, with lots of people sitting and socialising at tables throughout the square and surrounding a little fountain. The statue on the fountain definitely caught my eye!
As you can see, the donkey statue seems to pooping coins that the boy is catching in his hat! I thought it was very weird, and wondered what the fountain signified. The only sign on the fountain said something about the “Ducat Donkey” but that was it. Later that evening when I had wifi I googled the Ducat Donkey on my phone to find…nothing. Nada. Zilch. Well, there are other photos, clearly naming it as the Ducat Donkey. But I can’t find any information about WHY it’s there and what the significance of a donkey pooping coins is! The only thing I have been able to find is information about one of the Brothers Grimm fairy-tales, “Table-Be-Set, Gold-Donkey and Cudgel-out-of-the-Sack”. The story has a magic donkey called Bricklebrit in it, which ‘spews forth gold pieces for you from back and front’ if you put it on a cloth and said his name. The wikipedia page for the article even has a photo of this fountain in Diekirch on it, although I’m not convinced that the story lead to the statue on the fountin. The donkey in the story apparently spewed gold from both his butt and mouth, but the donkey on the fountain is clearly only emptying gold from one orifice! So, the mystery remains unsolved, and if anyone knows the true story of the Ducat Donkey fountain then I would be very interested to hear it! You can read the full fairy tale here if you are interested, and decide for yourself if the fountain is meant to be Bricklebrit.
Anyway, after I had taken my photo we finally settled on a French restaurant for dinner, and I immediately loved their decor because it was all black and hot pink just like this blog! I had a delicious medallion with roast vegetables that came with a baked sweet potato with pomegranate on top. The meat and vegetables were lovely but I’m not too sure about pomegranate on sweet potato. It was a very weird combination.
After dinner we wandered around a little more and were even treated to seeing a live band performing in the square! If you look at the surrounding old charming buildings you can once again see the church with the donkey on the steeple, and I was starting to notice a bit of a donkey theme in this town! We ventured closer to the church.
The Old Church of Saint Laurence was originally built on the remains of a Roman villa and, as you can see, is quite pretty. However, I also discovered some controversy surrounding the donkey weather vane on top; apparently they weren’t actually allowed to just put it up there as the church is classified as a national monument. In this article the Luxembourg Minister for Culture says that putting the donkey up there was against the rules. I also found a later article that says the donkey was eventually allowed to stay – mostly because the new Minister for Culture didn’t care! I thought it was funny, and it also helped me find out that the donkey is apparently the mascot of the town of Diekirch (which I had been starting to suspect).
Another donkey monument we spotted below, with what looks like Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas).
When trying to find out about the Ducat Donkey fountain I had read about a landmark donkey fountain in the town, and the next day I also found that one when we stopped to use an ATM. What is it with this town and donkeys?! The only information I could find about why the donkey is the mascot of Diekirch was on the Syndicat d’Initative de la Ville de Diekirck website, which said the following:
This is said to have happened in two ways. Diekirch was the projected centre of the Luxembourg-Troisvierges railway, but the bourgeois of the period, avant-garde ecologists that they were, apparently objected because the smoke from the locomotives and the noise of the trains would have polluted the atmosphere and disturbed their peace and quit (sic) and, as the story goes, the authorities in the capital said that those donkeys in Diekirch did not recognize a sign of the times. This story may well be apocryphal, but the following one is more plausible. Once upon a time, the peasants of Diekirch were forced to use donkeys to till, sow and work the fields and vineyards on the slopes of the Herrenberg, as this was the only animal that could cope with the terrain. Donkeys no longer work on the Herrenberg, but the Diekirch donkey, thank goodness, is still braying today.
This donkey fountain was also quite cute, I especially liked the details of the little donkey heads where the water came out of the barrel. I think you can also pose the donkeys around the side!
It’s funny the weird little things you can discover when travelling, and the mysteries surrounding a place that can draw you in. Have you ever had a weird experience like this? Or better yet, can anyone give me a definitive answer about the Ducat Donkey fountain?! Let me know in the comments and stay tuned for more snippets of Luxembourg coming soon!