Situated close to the border with Germany, pretty Echternach has the distinction of being Luxembourg's oldest town. Its origins can be traced back to 698AD, when St Willibrord, a monk from Ripon in Yorkshire, founded the Abbey of Echternach. The town soon grew around the abbey's walls as Willibrord continued in his mission to introduce Christianity to the local tribes. Supported by the Frankish kingdom, both the abbey and the town grew and flourished.
Some of the abbey was rebuilt in a baroque style in the 1730s, though very little else in the abbey or the town's centre has changed much since the medieval period. From the beginning of the 19th century, the town saw a decline in the wake of the French Revolution. Yet the advent of the railways gave the town a renewed popularity, as well as an influx of tourists taken with its tangle of narrow cobbled streets.