Things to do in Strasbourg, the Alsace Capital
On our last road trip through France, we visited the beautiful city of Strasbourg. Capital of the Alsace, university city, headquarters of the European Parliament and World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Undoubtedly, an essential visit on your trip through the Alsace.
Strasbourg is a city that surprised us very much. Honestly, we hadn’t sought much information about the city and spent less time than it deserved.
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We arrived a little late for lunchtime, in France. Well… Almost anywhere you eat earlier than in Spain… We found a place with the kitchen open and there we went. Also, it was raining so we took the opportunity to get some rest.
We took a tour of the area of the Strasbourg Cathedral, and realized that we had saved very little time for this city.
At 18.00 we had to be in Colmar to receive the keys to our accommodation. It’s an hour’s by car, so at 5 pm we went to Colmar, but as Strasbourg we were loving it so much, after collecting the keys in Colmar we came back.
A bit of Strasbourg history
The city of Strasbourg has its origins in a Roman square called Argentorata, destroyed by the barbarians and rebuilt in the 7th century under the name of Stratzeburg, which means “city of roads”. For almost a millennium it belonged to the Germanic Empire, being one of the most prestigious towns. Strasbourg achieved a high standard of living due to navigation and trade.
In 1262 after several struggles between the bishop and the nobility, the city gained independence and became an imperial free city. The arts and sciences grew, Protestantism developed. In 1681 the city was occupied by the French and fortified by Vauban. Between 1870 and 1918 and between 1940 and 1944, the city returned to German hands.
What to see and visit in Strasbourg?
Our trip to Strasbourg and the Alsace was at Easter,so the weather did not accompany us much. And after our round trip from Colmar, we arrived in Strasbourg at about 7pm.
I tell you in this post our visit to Strasbourg and all that this beautiful city has to offer. Most of the photos are nocturnal, we were here until midnight. I recommend you also do the free tour, it is very good and serves to know that you want to know a little more in depth and that you do not.
The cathedral square is the heart of the old part of Strasbourg. It is surrounded by old houses and dominated by its impressive Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Notre-Dame Cathedral is one of the most impressive cathedrals I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if it’s because of its surroundings or its architecture, but it has a breath-taking facade.
The Strasbourg Cathedral is Gothic style. It began to be built on an earlier Romanesque building, in 1176. Between 1240 and 1275 the different parts were built, and between 1284 and 1300 Erwin von Steinbach built the facade.
From here, the works progressed very slowly and were not completed until 1778.
The first stone of the facade was laid in 1277. And its decoration is amazing. On the porch on the right we can see the Sane Virgins and the Mad Virgins. In the center are the prophets and other sculptures. Its bell tower, 142 meters high, was the highest of all Christianity until the nineteenth century.
Inside the Strasbourg Cathedral stand out its colorful stained glass windows of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the organ in the form of a swallow’s nest, the pulpit, although undoubtedly what most caught our attention is the Astronomical Clock. If you arrive before 12.30 hours you will be able to see the twelve apostles parade in front of Christ.
The Kammerzell House
One of the most beautiful houses in Strasbourg is the Kammerzell House. It was the home of rich merchants for generations and is located at number 16 of the Cathedral Square.
The house was built in the sixteenth century by a cheese merchant. The ground floor is from the fifteenth century, is in stone and has arcades, under which were the shops.
Take a look at the first floor, you will see the date of its construction in 1589. The house owes its name to Philippe Kammerzell, who owned it in the mid-19th century. It currently houses a famous restaurant.
Next door is the tourist office, in case you need to expand the information.
You leave behind the cathedral square and go to the Place du Chateau where the Rohan Palace is located.
It was built in the Parisian style between 1732 and 1742. At the beginning of the nineteenth century it was the residence of Napoleon, which was highly esteemed by the Alsatians.
If you arrive at a more decent hour than us, you can visit one of the museums. As the Museum of Decorative Arts, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Archaeological Museum.
Notre Dame Museum of the Work
Right next to Rohan Palace you’ll find the museum of the construction work of the cathedral. It is a very picturesque building, housing inside several original statues of the cathedral portals that were managed to be saved from the French Revolution, as well as stained glass, paintings and furniture from between the 11th and 17th centuries.
Ribera del Ill in Strasbourg
Continue your visit by strolling along the banks of the Ill until you reach the Petite France. We made a small stretch of this road and then went to get the car. You can see in the pictures that we were quite late.
If you make this section walking you will see very picturesque places, but also historical places such as the Historical Museum of the City of Strasbourg, the Alsatian Museum and the church of St. Thomas.
The Historic Museum is housed in a butcher’s shop in the city of 1587. In it you can know the passage of time through the urban, political, economic, social and cultural history of Strasbourg.
The Alsatian Museum
It is a museum of popular arts and traditions, reminiscent of what life was like in rural Alsace, through objects of daily life. It is located in three beautiful Renaissance houses.
The Protestant Church of St. Thomas
It is the second largest church in Strasbourg, the largest is the cathedral. It was built between the 12th and 15th centuries and since 1549 it is Lutheran.
St Paul’s Church
Before heading towards the Petite France, we will pick up the car and pass the Gallia Bridge to take a photo of the Church of St. Paul. At night it looks imposing.
It is a Lutheran church in the neo-Gothic style and has been declared a historical monument of France since 1998. It was built in the late nineteenth century, when this area belonged to the Imperial Territory of Alsace and Lorena.
The “Petite France”
It is a very picturesque neighborhood that was once inhabited by fishermen, millers and tanners.
Theses houses have exposed wooden beams and are painted in different colors. The tanners’ houses are almost all built with a loft, the first and sometimes the second floor protrude above the ground floor. The roofs are open with galleries under which they dried the skins after washing them in the canal.
We continue walking and reach the covered bridges. They are a kind of bridge wall, built between 1200 and 1250, guarded by two medieval towers. The stone bridges we see today are from the 19th century.
La Barrage Vauban
The Barrage Vauban closed the wall, built by Vauban in the 17th century, after the union of Strasbourg to France in 1681. In order to reinforce the medieval fortifications that were already obsolete.
Under the thirteen arches of the bridge, the floodgates could be closed and the southern front of the city flooded, to avoid any assault.
In the nineteenth century the dam was made and in the 60s a panoramic terrace was conditioned on it.
Barrio European Institutions
If you have more time you can visit the neighborhood of the European institutions. Where the Palace of Europe is located, the park of L’Orangerie, the European Convention of Human Rights and some fragments of the Berlin Wall.
Where to sleep in Strasbourg
In Strasbourg you have a lot of hotel offer to stay. My recommendation is at least to make a night in this beautiful French city. .
How to get there
To get to Strasbourg you can do it by different means of transport. We arrived by car as we were doing a road trip through France from Madrid.
By Plane. The fastest way to get there is by plane, it takes two and a quarter hours and there are direct flights from Madrid and other locations. Then you can rent a car and tour the Alsace and if you have more days, you have to visit the Black Forest (Germany).
By Car. You can get there by car like we did or you can rent it there. It is, without a doubt, the most comfortable way to get to know this area.
When is the best time to go to Strasbourg?
I think Strasbourg is a city for year-round travel. Although due to its geographical location between the months of October and March the weather is a bit cold, it rains often and the sun is rarely seen.
In April, May and September the temperatures are more pleasant, but you can fall a splash at any time. And for those who like to play it safe, the best temperatures are in summer, in the months of June, July and August.
In Easter this area is very picturesque due to the décor. There’s plenty of tourism, but it’s not overwhelming.
In June there is a festival of Classical Music, in September a fair is held and in December the city becomes the capital of Christmas.
Tell me, do you know Strasbourg? Did you like it? Leave us your recommendations!!!
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