Hämmelsmarsch Fountain – Luxembourg, Luxembourg - Atlas Obscura

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Hämmelsmarsch Fountain

Some believe that the artist behind this whimsical statue inserted his own likeness as a way to discreetly flip the bird. 


The Hämmelsmarsch is an old Luxembourgish tradition of marching bands parading down the street with a flock of sheep—or hämmel in Luxembourgish—to invite people to the Schueberfouer, an annual fair which can trace its origins back to 1340. The tradition has survived to this day, though the music bands rarely get to march with hämmel these days. Instead, they are accompanied by a tune written by Michel Lentz, the poet mostly remembered for writing Luxembourg’s national anthem.

In the capital of the Grand Duchy, a whimsical fountain pays tribute to this tradition, a sculpture made by local artist Wil Lofy in 1982 and aptly titled Hämmelsmarsch. It stands on the site of Roude Pëtz, a well built around 1740 to supply water to the Fortress of Luxembourg until it was demolished following the 1867 Treaty of London.

The fountain consists of bronze statues of a marching band, sheep, and two children giggling under an umbrella. The facial expressions of the musicians are rather comical, giving the whole sculpture a fun, wholesome impression.

But there’s one crude rumor that has been whispered among the locals since its installation. The accordionist, whose face is clearly modeled after that of the artist himself, seems to be subtly extending his middle finger.

While the reason for this gesture is unknown, there are two popular theories. One is that Lofy had some enmity against the local government, and the other is that the owner of the shop directly facing the accordionist opposed the installation of the fountain, hence the artist’s furtive revenge.

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March 30, 2023

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