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Die malerische Altstadt von Straßburg im Elsass, Bild: Prasit Rodphan / shutterstock

Strasbourg – Experience diversity in the European capital

The city of Strasbourg is located in Alsace, in the east of France. It is located on the Ill. Numerous institutions such as the European Parliament or the European Court of Human Rights are located in Strasbourg. For this reason, it also sees itself as “Europe’s capital”. The special thing about Strasbourg is also the well-preserved old town from the Middle Ages. It is located on the “Grande Île” and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. To the east, Strasbourg borders on the Rhine. The “Europe Bridge”, which connects Strasbourg and the German city of Kehl, runs over it.

Interesting facts about the city in Alsace

Strasbourg looks back on an eventful history. This began around 1300 BC, when the first settlers settled here permanently. In Roman times, the settlement was given the name “Argentoratum”. In the Middle Ages, the bishop’s seat developed into a respectable economic centre with free guilds of craftsmen. One of the most important guilds was that of book printing. At the end of the 17th century, the Alsace – and thus also Strasbourg – was taken by France. In 1871, the city gained in importance again. As the capital of Alsace-Lorraine, it now belonged to the German Empire. In 1919 it was returned to France.

Strasbourg is an important transport hub on the border between France and Germany. There are rail connections to Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, Frankfurt am Main, Mannheim and Baden-Baden. The TGV also serves Luxembourg , Basel and Zurich in Switzerland. A tram line also runs over the Europabrücke to Kehl. The well-developed expressway network takes travellers to Metz, Nancy and Paris. Strasbourg is also home to the second largest inland port in France. Various cruise ships reach the port of the Alsatian city via Rhine canals . Another important transport hub is the international airport, where airlines such as Ryanair, Germania or Air France operate.

Places of interest Strasbourg

Strasbourg is popular with visitors above all because of its well-preserved medieval buildings. Small alleys with picturesque half-timbered houses characterize the historic “Tanners’ Quarter”. But castles, palaces and other monumental buildings can also be found in Strasbourg.

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Middle Ages up close

The historic old town on the “Grande Île” is a magnet for visitors. Numerous half-timbered houses have been preserved in their original form and spread their romantic flair. One of the oldest houses is the “Haus Kammerzell”. In Alsatian, it is called “Kammerzellhüs”. The foundation stone of the house was laid in 1427. Over the centuries, it has been rebuilt several times. It is characterized by detailed carvings on the façade. Today it houses a hotel and a restaurant.

The Cathedral of Our Lady in Strasbourg

Strasbourg, Cathedral
Strasbourg Cathedral – The Cathedral of Strasbourg, Image: LaMiaFotografia / shutterstock

One of the world’s largest buildings made of sandstone is the “Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg”. It was built between 1176 and 1439 in the Romanesque and Gothic styles. Pink sandstone from the Vosges was used as a building material. Until 1874, the north tower of the cathedral was the tallest building in the world at 142 meters. An ornate pulpit, tapestries, the astronomical clock and the Gothic organ are among the interior furnishings worth seeing.

The magnificent Imperial Palace

The Palais du Rhin was built between 1884 and 1889 on the occasion of the 87th birthday of Emperor Wilhelm I. The building was intended to bear witness to the affiliation to the German Reich. Therefore, the dome of the building, which is built in the Neo-Renaissance style, also resembles a spiked helmet. Due to its size, it is one of the most striking buildings in Strasbourg. The main façade of the palace closes off the former “Kaiserplatz”.

The Palais Rohan

An imposing baroque building is the Palais Rohan. It was built from 1731 to 1742 on the Ill. The building is almost square in design. Its inner courtyard is divided into three parts by a gallery. While the palace once served as the residence of bishops and cardinals, it now houses three museums: the Museum of Decorative Arts, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Archaeological Museum. The former chambers, the dining room and the library can also be visited.

Cultural offer in Strasbourg

In addition to the architectural highlights, Strasbourg is also home to numerous museums. The offer ranges from archaeology and modern art to folk and handicrafts to science and technology. The city’s cultural landscape also includes several theatres and annual events.

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The Alsatian Museum

The museum is located in the old town. The aim of its creation in 1902 was to preserve the Alsatian cultural heritage. Above all, it makes clear the mutual influences from the German and French sides. The exhibition mainly shows everyday objects such as household appliances, clothing and traditional costumes. Pieces of regional handicrafts can also be admired.

An Eldorado for art lovers

Strasbourg, Musée d'Art moderne
The Musée d’Art moderne et contemporain, Image: Pierre-Olivier / shutterstock

The Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts) is housed in the Palais Rohan. It presents numerous paintings by the Old Masters. In addition to the works of Italian artists such as Tintoretto or Canaletto, Dutch (Rubens, Van Dyck), Spanish (El Greco) and French artists (Watteau, Rousseau) are also on display.

Science is fun!

Opened in 2004, the “Big Ship” (Le Vaisseau) is designed for children from 3 to 15 years old. The scientific institution wants to help children better understand their environment. The exhibition is trilingual (German, English, French). It is designed to be interactive and is dedicated to the topics of “being human”, “animals”, “water” and “do-it-yourself”, among other things. 3D films and varied workshops complement the exhibition programme.

In the footsteps of history

The Historical Museum (Musée historique) is entirely dedicated to the history of Strasbourg, which is documented by numerous finds. The Zoological Museum (Musée zoologique), which is part of the University of Strasbourg, also has an extensive collection. Many of the holdings date back to the 18th century. The exhibits include thousands of birds, fish, reptiles, insects and mammals.

The Theatre Landscape

Strasbourg is home to the “Opéra national du Rhin”. Her ensemble includes soloists and the opera choir as well as the ballet and the Philharmonic Orchestra. Plays such as “Don Giovanni”, “Der Freischütz” or “Swan Lake” will be performed. On the other hand, the “Théâtre national de Strasbourg” is part of the city’s theatre landscape. The focus of the stage repertoire is on modern staged plays. In addition, the cabaret stage of the “Théâtre de la Choucrouterie” offers a varied program. The main focus of the theater, which opened in 1984, is comedy.

Events in Strasbourg

In addition to cinemas and theatres, Strasbourg also has a number of events to offer. For example, the “Fête de la Musique” takes place every year on 21 June. Amateur and professional musicians can experience live performances throughout the city centre from 6 p.m. onwards. The “Festival Musica”, which takes place in autumn, takes place for several days in autumn. Concerts of contemporary music are presented at various locations. In addition, the “Christkindelmärik” attracts many visitors during the Advent season.