Welcome to Strasbourg, the capital of the province of Alsace, the seat of the European Parliament, Council and European Court of Human Rights. The Grande Ile – “Grand Island”, is the first city center of the world placed under the protection of UNESCO. Surrounded by the banks of Ill River this city makes a wonderful place for a relaxing weekend.
Walking towards the main square, you will reach the Place du Marché aux cochons de lait, a picturesque square full of restaurants and terraces from where you can enjoy the view of the nearby gothic cathedral. The Cathedral Notre Dame de Strasbourg was being built for nearly 400 years and it was the tallest church in the world until the end of the 19th century, while today it stands in the fifth place. This “gigantic beautiful miracle”, as Viktor Hugo called it, has another interesting fact, namely that of the two planned towers only one was built. If you want to, you can climb to the top and, if the weather is nice, see Germany. The interior of the church is marked by the rosette, a window in the form of a rose, and the astrological clock, a real technological masterpiece in which, among other things, you can see the playful figures and their “dance of life.”
Near the cathedral, on its left side, is Maison Kammerzell, one of the most beautiful houses in town, which is almost entirely carved from wood and the windows are unique works of art. On the other side of the main square is Palais Rohan, a former bishop’s palace, today a house to several city museums. South of the center is Petite France, part of the city where the most beautiful examples of local architecture are, such as the Maison des Tanneurs, with a distinctive white facade covered with wood. Here you will find old mills, bridges and family hotels – it’s truly unforgettable. At the entrance to the Petite France you’re “welcomed” by the Pont couverts, a system of covered bridges with four defensive towers from the 13th century, and little further away are churches of Saint Thomas and Saint Paul. Three more city squares are highly significant. The first is the Place Gutenberg with the monument to the well-known inventor of printing machines, who spent a part of his life here. The second is the Place Kléber, which is known for the unique Christmas Fair and Christmas cookies, and the third is the Place de la République, with the university library, City Theatre, Palais du Rhin and the Opéra national du Rhin nearby.
This region is known as the main place of European reconciliation after the World War II. Therefore, Strasbourg has its own European quarter, with the centers of the most important pillars of the European Union, and it also has Le Jardin des Deux Rives, a park that connects the two sides of the river Rhine, the French and the German, where you will often encounter storks, the symbol of the city and this entire region. Recently, Alsace was connected to the system of the TGV, the fastest French trains, which enables you to reach Paris in less than two and a half hours.
Photo by: tpsdave