The Greater Region (French: Grande Région, German: Großregion, Luxembourgish: Groussregioun) is the area of Saarland, Lorraine, Luxembourg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Wallonia and the rest of the French Community of Belgium, and the German-speaking Community of Belgium.1 It is not identical with the SaarLorLux Euregion, being in the same territory.
It is situated between the Rhine, Moselle, Saar and Meuse rivers, has an overall area of 65,401 km². Its population counts 11.2 million inhabitants, representing 2.5% of the total population of the 27-state European Union, and accounting for the same proportion of the EU GDP.
The Greater Region, is divided between Romance and Germanic languages and also forms the hub for transport in Europe. It has an urban, rural (Ardennes-Eifel-Rheinhessen) and industrial fabric which is the source of rich and ongoing economic and cultural relations.
The size of the Greater Region is more than 400 km from East to West and more than 350 km from North to South.
"11.2 Millions of people live in the Greater Region; this is corresponding to 3% of the total population of the 15 European Union member states. In the same dimension the Greater Region contributes to the gross domestic product of the community. (...) All four member states are faced with economic challenges, being subject to changes in their industrial and mining industries. So they create a certain syndicate to cope with these problems, like the "European Development Pool of the sectors Longwy (France), Rodange (Luxembourg), Athus (Belgium)". 2
In 2007 Luxembourg and the Greater Region, together with city of Sibiu, Romania, were designated by the European Union for a period of one year to be the European Capital of Culture, during which they were given a chance to showcase their cultural life and cultural development. 3
In the Greater Region more than 1,200 museums and other institutions present and conserve the heritage of this core European region. 4
The history of the Greater Region and its subdivisions is a mirror of the History of Europe starting from the prehistory up to the current European history. Outstanding testimonials of all European eras can be retrieved in the area of the Greater Region. Due to the Romanization during ancient Roman times and the invasion of the Germanic people during the Late Antiquity, the Greater Region became a threshold region up today. Hence the cultural, historical, political, economical and social inhomogeneities shape the region and its inhabitants until today. Several wars, like the Four Lords' War, and foremost World War I with the Battle of Verdun and World War II with the Battle of the Bulge, the Maginot Line and the Siegfried Line devastated the region. Today, peaceful forms of coexistence, like the numerous cross-border commuters, may be seen. 5
The Greater Region contains many interesting tourist destinations. In general, they can be reached in day trips from any starting point within the Greater Region. The following are the major tourist destinations in the area:
- Sarreguemines (France), with the famous Faïencerie (earthenware factory)
- Saverne (France), with the Saint-Louis-Arzviller inclined plane
- Bitche (France), one of Vauban’s garrison towns with a large citadel; one of the largest underground artillery works of the Maginot Line (Fort Simserhof), can be visited
- Metz (France), capital of the Lorraine region with the high Gothic Metz Cathedral (with windows of Hermann von Münster and Marc Chagall) and the new branch of the Centre Pompidou-Metz
- Nancy (France), Art Nouveau city with Place Stanislas (UNESCO World Heritage Sites)
- Saarbrücken, capital of the German state of Saarland, with the baroque Ludwigskirche, which is the burial location of Elisabeth of Lorraine
- Völklingen (Saarland), the Völklingen Ironworks (UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site)
- Trier (Rhineland-Palatinate), ancient Roman city with many Roman monuments, the most famous of which is Porta Nigra
- Mainz (capital of the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate), founded by the Romans as a military post; has the Mainz Cathedral and Gutenberg Museum
- Luxembourg (capital of Luxembourg), with medieval fortifications and Grand Ducal Palace
- Liège (Belgium) cultural center of the Wallonia with the palace of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège and Baroque Town Hall
The Greater Region is supported by Interreg III, a Community initiative which aims to stimulate interregional cooperation in the EU between 2000-06. It is financed under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
This phase of the Interreg initiative is designed to strengthen economic and social cohesion throughout the EU, by fostering the balanced development of the continent through cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation.5
The current INTERREG IV A Greater Region (Grande Région) programme (period 2007 - 2013) has been elaborated to enforce the cooperation between the project partners from the different parts of the Greater Region.
- Download of the charter 9 October 1998
- Description of the Greater Region on the official web page by Evelyne Arnould, university lecturer for Geographie at the Université de Nancy
- Luxemburg and Greater Region European Capital of Culture 2007
- REMUS, the museum portal of the greater region
- History of the Greater Region (de)