Strasbourg (Strassburg). What to see

Last Updated on 18/11/2022

Strasbourg (Strassburg in German) is a city for a short visit for a couple of days or for christmas market in Advent. It is not very suitable for a base in Alsace: it takes quite a long time to get to any interesting point – either to the north or to the south. True, there are many hotels in the city, and this makes it very likely that this is where you will stay.

A significant part of the old city is on the UNESCO list, including the most famous landmark – Strasbourg Cathedral.

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A little history

The history of settlements on the site of Strasbourg begins around 1300 BC. The most ancient settlements found are Celtic. In 12 BC the Roman general Drusus founded Strasbourg as the military camp of Argentoratum.

The name Strassburg – “fortress on the (military) road” – appeared already in the 6th century. Very early – in the 4th century – there was a bishop in the city. Under Clovis, the city was annexed to the Frankish kingdom, but from the 9th century, after disputes over the legacy of Charlemagne, Strasbourg passed to the Germans.

In the 13th century, the bishop lost his power – the city was given the rights of a Free Imperial City. It was governed by a council of guild representatives. Due to its favorable position for trade, the city actively grew and grew rich.

In the 17th century, the city was occupied by the troops of Ludwig 14. Under French rule, it greatly increased in size. In 1870 there were Germans again – until the First World War, after which Strasbourg returned to France.

Since 1949, Strasbourg has been chosen as the seat of the European Council.

Strasbourg What to see

The main attraction of Strasbourg is its old city Grande Ile (“big island”), the center of which is, of course, the Cathedral and the Cathedral Square.

Strasbourg what to see Strassburg
enlarge Map data ©OpenStreetMap

Strasbourg Cathedral

Strasbourg Cathedral, dedicated to Our Lady (height – 124 m), for a long time, until the 19th century, was the highest. The building was built from 1176 to 1439 on the foundations of an ancient Roman basilica of the 11th century. In the 13th century, thanks to an architect who arrived from Chartres, the building acquired a Gothic look.

Inside the cathedral, original stained-glass windows have been preserved, the oldest of which date back to the end of the 12th-13th centuries.

The famous astronomical clock (end of the 16th century) in the transverse nave is set in motion every day at 12.30.

Views from the roof

On the square opposite the cathedral, do not forget to pay attention to the Kammerzell house (maison Kammerzell, first floor of the 15th century, half-timbered structure of the 16th century) with carved decorations depicting biblical and mythical characters.

Another old building is the former Deer Pharmacy (Pharmacie du Cerf, half-timbered upper floors of the 16th century, in the photo is the side facade in the center).

There are many streets with old buildings in the historical center. The Petite France quarter with canals, the medieval churches of Saint Pierre Le Jeune and Eglise Saint-Thomas, the Covered Bridge, Rue du Maroquin, Rue Merciere deserve special attention.

Petite France

Vauban Dam

View from the Vauban dam to the covered bridges. Covered bridges – part of the city fortifications, built in the 13th century. Roofs, of course, have long been dismantled.

Gothic church of St. Thomas (Église Saint-Thomas).

Museums

The Museum of Decorative Arts, the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts are housed in Palais Rohan. The palace is named after four cardinals from the Rohan family, who were bishops in the 18th century. The first of them, the illegitimate son of Louis 14 Armand Gaston, began the construction of the episcopal palace.

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The Museum of Decorative Arts gives you the opportunity to see the episcopal apartments, collections of porcelain, furniture of the 18th century. and etc.

The Museum of Fine Arts presents Italian, Flemish, Dutch, Spanish and French art from the 14th to 19th centuries. The collection includes works by Giotto, Memling, Botticelli, Raphael, Correggio, Veronese, El Greco, Ribera, Rubens, Van Dyck, Tiepolo, Canaletto, Watteau, Boucher, Goya, Corot, Delacroix and others.

Museum of the construction of the Cathedral of Our Lady (in the photo on the right, on the left – Rohan Palace), located in buildings of the 14th and 16th centuries, presents the architecture, church painting and sculpture of Alsace from the 11th to 13th centuries. This is a very interesting museum, and first of all it is a wonderful Renaissance building with beautiful staircases. The kids and I spent two hours there and the kids were just as interested as I was.

Strasbourg what to see Strassburg

Another museum that you can visit if you are interested in the history of the region and local folk art is the Alsace Museum. The museum reconstructed the interiors of Alsatian houses – workshops, farms, wineries, etc.

Chocolate Museum Schaal
The museum is located on the outskirts of Strasbourg. If you get without car from the center, then you need to get to the end tram stop and walk for another 15 minutes. If you get by train from another city, then you need to walk 2 km from the station or take a bus.

We visited it because the museum is included in the guest card and was free. Without children and for money, I would not have gotten there. The museum turned out to be more interesting than expected. IT is at the factory, but you will not see the factory itself. But there are many videos showing the process, you can smell and try different types of chocolate. There is even a real chocolate train. They demonstrate the production of a cat figure, which you can then buy in a shop at the museum. Of course, the shop is the main goal for the factory.
Dark chocolate, for my taste, is worse than Lindt, Hussel and dark from Rosche, but quite edible. I didn’t try the milk one, because I’m a fan of the dark. White, according to my child, is the best in general.

Thus, with children it is a worthwhile excursion. If you sign up in advance, you can also get to the “Make your own chocolate” course.

The scientific Vaisseau museum used to be interesting because there were not very many such museums. However, due to its size, it is now obsolete. This is all a very small floor. It only makes sense to those who have never been to such science museums.

Let’s name other museums: historical museum, modern art museum, Tommy Ungerer’s illustration museum.

Modern Quarter of the European Parliament

The complex of buildings of the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Court of Human Rights is located in a picturesque place. Here you can find information about visiting the European Parliament: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/visiting/en

You can get there by boat, tram E, buses 6, 72, 30

European Court of Human Rights

European Parliament

A stone’s throw from the Euroquarter Orangerie Park. There are many free-living storks, the symbol of Alsace.

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