Sights in Strasbourg
Strasbourg is located about 300 miles east of Paris (4 hours by train) and 140 miles south of Frankfurt, Germany. Not only is Strasbourg the capital of the Alsace region, but it is also home to the European Union Parliament. The Ill River, which flows through Strasbourg, ends in the Rhine River only 2 miles from the city center, making this inland city one of the major ports in France. The city retains a youthful edge with its University whose alumni include Goethe and Napoleon. If you are visiting the Alsace region you should also consider a stop in Colmar and the many small towns along the wine route.
Strasbourg by area
The city center of Strasbourg has been car free since 1992, making it the perfect place to enjoy on foot. It is crossed by a tram system which links it to the rest of the city. Place Kléber, named for one of Napoleon's greatest generals, is the main transportation hub. Dating from the 15th Century the square's centerpiece is the statue of J.B. Kléber rising over his tomb. During WWII the statue was removed by the Nazis to signify that French military history was insignificant.
Place Gutenberg is the oldest square in Strasbourg and was once the towns' herb market. Named for Johannes Gutenberg (born in Mainz, Germany) who perfected the printing press in Strasbourg in 1436 thus enabling mass printing with mobile letters. You find the former town hall dating from 1582 on the square. Today it is the Hôtel du Commerce, and is considered one of the best Renaissance style buildings in the region.
La Petite France is the most popular area in Strasbourg. The area is lined with 16th Century homes on the Ill River. These homes are in typical Alsatian style including cross beamed facades and gray tiled roofs. The winding streets include turreted bridges crossing the river. Rue du Bain-aux-Plantes is a small island in the river.
Top Sights in Strasbourg
Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg- This Gothic Cathedral dates from 1176 and is renowned for a single pyramidal tower that rises 469 feet above the city - the tallest medieval tower still standing in the world. The church is constructed of rose colored stone and the facade is richly decorated. Take note of the rose window whose stone structure resembles lace. Another highlight of the cathedral is the astronomical clock built between 1547 and 1574. Crowds gather around the facade at 12:30 to watch its figures in motion. A limited number of tickets are available each day to see the inner workings close up.
Musée de l'Oeuvre Notre Dame- This museum contains Alsatian art from the Middle Ages and Renaissance including many pieces that were originally in the Cathedral. Most notable among them are an 11th Century stained glass of Christ's head, a collection of 13th Century sculptures, and the works from local goldsmiths of the 16th-17th Centuries. Closed on Mondays.
Palais de Rohan- This 18th Century elegant palace is known for its exceptional rococo interior. The palace houses 3 museums: The Fine Arts museum containing works by Rembrandt, Renoir and Monet, The Decorative Arts museum containing some of the best ceramics in France, and finally, The Archeology museum containing artifacts from the area dating back to Roman times. Closed on Tuesdays.
Musée Alsatian- This museum is made up of 3 different 16th and 17th Century mansions. The emphasis here is on folklore, customs, arts, crafts and tools from the region. Closed Tuesdays.
Ill River Cruises- There are river cruises lasting an hour and 15 minutes that tell Strasbourg's history by commentary in French and English. These cruises depart near the Palais de Rohan every 30 minutes during daylight hours (less regular in winter).
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