Strasbourg is a city in the center of Europe on the right bank of the Rhine river. It combines German preciseness and French charm. The motherland of the first Christmas tree and the first printed book in Europe keeps many legends and tales. Gothic cathedrals and castles, universities and parks, restaurants, and cafes of Strasbourg are crowded with tourists all year round. A unique architectural layout of the central part of the city, Grande Ile, was classified a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The parliament capital of Europe offers interesting places and incredible emotions to every guest. And people keep coming back here because the city fascinates and makes you fall in love with it.
Districts of Strasbourg
If you want to live away from the bustle of the city, choose housing in the eastern part of town. Parks, museums, university buildings, most of the buildings that were erected in the XIX-XX centuries, are also located in the eastern neighborhoods.
Young people will love the areas in the southern part of Strasbourg, where you can spend time in the inexpensive bars and restaurants. Also, this part of town will suit travelers who prefer budget hotels.
You can see the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, and the Court of Human Rights in the northeastern neighborhood called the Orangerie.
Strasbourg is rich in sights. Old palaces, majestic cathedrals, magnificent parks, and fascinating museums — you can't see it all in a short time. Make an itinerary for yourself in advance for the places you want to visit the most.
As early as in the IV century, there was a bishopric in Strasbourg. In the VII century, Saint Arbogast of Strasbourg, who is considered the city's patron saint, lived here. In the IX century, the city was ruled by the Holy Roman Empire of the Germanic Nation.
In the X century, the city began minting coins, and at the beginning of the XIII century, it received its seal with the image of the Mother of God.
In the first half of the XV century, Johannes Gutenberg, the founder of European printing, lived and worked in Strasbourg. The city actively developed science and built cathedrals. The first university in Strasbourg appeared in the early XVII century. The local Protestant gymnasium received this status.
Throughout its subsequent history, the city passed from France to Germany. In 1681, the French troops conquered the city. The first factory for the production of faience was opened in Strasbourg in the early XVIII century.
Strasbourg is the city of La Marseillaise. This anthem of the French republic was first sung on Place Broglie and began its journey across the country from there.
In 1870, the city surrendered to Prussian troops and became part of the German Empire. Then, in 1918, French rule was restored in Strasbourg.
The years 1940 to 1944 were a period of occupation by German troops.
Since 1949, Strasbourg hosts the Council of Europe, and 30 years later, the first session of the European Parliament was held here. Since then, the city holds the unofficial title of the European capital. Thanks to the influence of French and German cultures, Strasbourg has acquired a wonderful charm of antiquity, which attracts fans of European history and culture from all over the world.
The best time to visit Strasbourg
If you want to see a real Catholic Christmas, come to Strasbourg in December. During this time, there are Christmas fairs in all the squares. Try Alsatian hot drinks, original pastries, and choose souvenirs to remember. The city's Christmas market is the oldest not only in France but also in all of Europe. After all, Strasbourg is also called the capital of Christmas.
Fans of music come to Strasbourg in October for the International Festival of Contemporary Classical Music. The city hosts concerts of world-famous performers for two weeks on several sites. The city has a wide variety of festivals and events, so do check before you go whether you are interested in a fountain festival, a street theater festival, or any other event.
The city has good restaurants and cafes with low prices. The average bill in such places will be €12 per person. In respectable restaurants, dinner costs from €60. Strasbourg offers street food, which is quite cheap and tasty. Local markets offer inexpensive quality products — cheeses, pates, terrines (bread loaf with meat and vegetables).
If you plan a rich cultural program, you should buy a special tourist card. It gives the right to free visits to the majority of museums and exhibition halls and discounts in restaurants and stores. You can buy it in tourist offices.
The bus is the most convenient mode of transport in the city. There are also city streetcars. Bear in mind that you need to punch your ticket at the bus stop before you get on the bus. Otherwise, it will be considered invalid. It's very convenient to travel around Strasbourg by bicycle, and there are many rental stations.
Things to do in Strasbourg
The capital of Alsace is a traveler's paradise. Every step you take is an ancient monument or a picturesque place. If you want to feel all the charm of Strasbourg, you should take a walk along the most popular routes:
- Visit the architectural pearl of the city — The Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg. Its construction began in the XI century and is still unfinished. As a result, you can see several styles at once in the architecture of the building — early Romanesque and early and late Gothic. Look inside the cathedral, and you'll see an unusual astronomical clock. Every hour, a puppet comes out of it and puts on a little show.
- Grab a cup of coffee in charming La Petite France, Strasbourg's romantic and sophisticated quarter with its half-timbered buildings, floral balconies, and covered bridges. Choose a table at a café overlooking the river and enjoy a beautiful view of the city's most picturesque quarter. It's especially beautiful in the evening.
- Marvel at a gem of half-timbered architecture in the heart of Strasbourg — the Maison Kammerzell. The facade of this XV century monument has 75 windows. Each window is framed by the signs of the Zodiac, mythical characters, biblical scenes, and images of human feelings. You can even stay here if you like (there's a small hotel on the upper floors) or grab a bite to eat at Strasbourg's most famous restaurant, Maison Kammerzell, which is located in the basement of the building.
- Admire the majestic Palais du Rhin, which was built for Emperor Wilhelm I. A symbol of German power at that time, this Baroque, Renaissance, and Ancient Classicist building is a fine example of XIX-century German architecture.
- Take a stroll by the fountains at Place Kléber. It's Strasbourg's central square, where all official events take place. Beautiful mansions and monuments surround it. They house stores, restaurants, and administrative offices.
- See the XIV-century frescoes in L'église Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune. One of the oldest churches in Europe was built back in the XI century. Until the XIX century, it was used for simultaneous services of Catholics and Protestants. This is reflected in the church's interior: one half is Catholic, the other half is Protestant.
- See the magnificent Palais Rohan, built on the orders of the Bishop of Strasbourg in the XVIII century. Kings of France and their families frequently visited the palace. You can also see rare exhibits in several museums on its grounds.
- Take a ride on the river streetcar, which sails under movable bridges and through locks. From the water, catch a glimpse of life in Europe's capital and take in the sights.
- Have a picnic in Orangerie Park. This park, a favorite of Strasbourg citizens and visitors, was laid out by Napoleon for his wife, Josephine. Relax in the shade of the alleys, watch the flamingos, and feed the animals.
- Take a trip across the Mimram pedestrian bridge (La passerelle Mimram) from France to Germany and back. This bridge over the Rhine River not only connects Strasbourg with the German town of Kehl but also serves as the border between the two countries.
- Get to know the local cuisine. The Alsatians cook both French and German cuisine. Try Foie gras — goose liver pâté; Knack — sausage served with sauerkraut; snail meat boiled in broth and a popular local dish "choucroute" — stewed cabbage with potatoes and various kinds of sausages, with the addition of wine. For dessert, order pastries — salted pretzel, Kugelhopf buns with almonds and raisins, bacon and onion pie.