by Eileen Schuelbe
When you think of France, you think of Paris, the Mediterranean Sea or red wine. But usually you don’t consider the Alsace region and its beautiful but underestimated capital Strasbourg.
Located in East France with an historic city center on an island in the river Île, it’s not only home to many famous and worth seeing buildings and museums, but it’s also seat of many European institutions, such as the European Parliament, making it the capital of Europe.
To do justice to this beautiful and diverse city, there is more than one way to discover it: culture, history and arts.
Strasbourg is a very old town with its history reaching far back into the past. The Historical Museum shows impressive and authentic exhibits. The Beaux-Arts Museum in Palais Rohan displays items of grand artists such as Goya, Rubens and Van Dyck. Want more arts? Then visit the Musée de l’Œvre Notre-Dame where you can marvel at masterpieces from the Gothic period and Renaissance. The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art focuses its collection on works of Gustave Doré, Jean Arp, Victor Brauner and Cesar Domela. Over there, do not miss The Hortus conclusus, a 4 meters high horse sculpture by the Italian artist Mimmo Paladino on the museum’s roof.
If you’re not that much into museums, go to the city center, also called Petite France (Little France). The historic city center located on Main Island was declared world heritage in 1988. Here you can gaze at one of the most beautiful city squares of Europe, the Place du Marché, with the impressive sandstone Gothic Cathedral. Just keep on walking and you can enjoy what used to be the tanners’ district with its many half-timbered houses and the Palais Rohan, which once served as a bishop
residence in 18th century. Now it houses the Beaux-Arts Museum and the Museum of Decorative Art, which also allows you to visit the historic rooms of Palais Rohan.
When you get tired from walking and watching, savor the manifoldness of the city’s cuisine or just sit in one of those comfy little cafés that will serve tasty cakes and biscuits with café or hot chocolate.
If you’re interested in European history, you can find remaining and memories from the World War II as Strasbourg was tugged between Germany and France over centuries. Because it suffered a lot, the city is home of numerous European institutions such as the Council of Europe, the European Parliament or the European Court of Human Rights.
You want more than just sightseeing? Then come in winter and enjoy the beautiful Christmas market, or visit in summer on June 21st, where the Music Festival takes place all for free.
Shopping in Strasbourg worth it for tourists. The city offers good sopping opportunities, from designer shops (le Carré D’or) to numerous local shops in Main Island and les Galeries Lafayette (tax-free for non-EU).