There are few places in the world that have such a strong double personality. The unofficial capital of Europe, declared a World Heritage Site, is one of them, as it has been able to preserve the vestiges of German and French cultures almost equally as a treasure.

Like a phoenix, and in the heart of Europe, Strasbourg has always known how to re-emerge unscathed from the wars, occupations and invasions it has suffered over time. First it was the Romans, who called it Argentoratum, and then the Germans renamed it Strassburg, city of roads, a name that has survived to this day. Later it was a free imperial city, then French and then German again from 1870 to 1914, then French again until the Nazi occupation. In 1945 it passed definitively to France and a short time later, along with Brussels, it became the headquarters of the main European institutions.This cultural exchange that Strasbourg has had has meant that the city has kept the best of each culture, a melting pot that has survived to this day throughout the Alsace region, of which Strasbourg is the capital. That is why it is not surprising that practically almost all the Alsatian towns have a German name, and that even in some of them there are still people who express themselves in the Alsatian dialect, more closely related to German than to French.

Music and writers

Strasbourg attracts us like a magnet to iron. A walk through its streets is like a trip back in time thanks to its well-preserved historic quarter, with an impressive Gothic cathedral at its head, some canals and the Ill River, which surrounds the city center and through which you can do a fantastic boat tour. Its cultural offer, which any other French city would most like to have, makes the Alsatian capital a destination worth savoring, like its wines, in peace.

For all these reasons, it is not surprising that many personalities chose this city to live, and that they had compliments such as those of Wagner: «I would choose Strasbourg first to premiere all my operas»; or Mozart, who claimed that “Strasbourg cannot, so to speak, live without me”; Goethe said that “I then saw from the platform of the cathedral, the beautiful and extensive region and city where I was to stay for a time.” Even Victor Hugo sang a generous hymn to the Rhine during his stay, and perhaps even Gutenberg germinated his project here that would make him famous.Notre-Dame cathedral.

We, like Goethe, visited the imposing Notre-Dame cathedral, with its pink brick, which is the color of the sandstone of the Vosges, that mountain range that separates the Rhine valley from Lorraine. Erected from 1277 to the middle of the 15th century, it is one of the masterpieces of European Gothic art, thanks to a beautiful façade, which looks like filigree work, with an impressive rose window that is said to be the largest in Europe. and, above all, the bell tower, 142 meters high, from which you get a splendid view of the entire city and the Rhine Valley. The interior is unmissable with its Romanesque choir, fully carved pulpit and a organ in the form of a swallow’s nest.

On the cathedral square, the Renaissance Kammerzell house has become one of the city’s icons thanks to its 75 wooden windows that give it an air of a fairytale house. The rue Merciére, just in front of the cathedral’s façade, is the place where tourists take the opportunity to take the typical souvenir photo. At the end of this street is the Plaza de Gutenberg, which together with Plaza de Kléber make up the two main arenas in the city and where all kinds of parties, parades, dances, etc. are held. Plaza de Gutenberg.

From another perspective

Since this beautiful palace is next to the Ill river, we took the opportunity to take a walk along the river and enjoy the city from another perspective. Depending on the moment in which the city is visited, on the outskirts of the river we can see storks. This bird has become the true symbol of the region, to the point that it is the most requested souvenir.

At one point the ship has to make a stop at a lock just before passing through the most famous district of the city, “Petite France”, a picturesque district that used to be home to fishermen, millers and tanners and which retains its typical half-timbered houses, which reminds us that we are in the capital of Alsace, a region where all its villages stand out for this type of construction. In this “little France” the traveler has to wander aimlessly, discovering on all sides suggestive corners very well preserved, which will surely lead him to three joined bridges, on which stand out at the same time three identical towers that were part of the defenses of the city.Vauban Dam.

To get a fantastic view of this whole complex, you can go to the Vauban Dam, also built as a defensive system and to control the waters of the river by the great military architect Vauban. These buildings called “Ponts Couverts” are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continuing the boat ride along the river, we pass by the Plaza de la República, a neighborhood built by the Germans during their possession of the city from 1870, thanks to Kaiser Wilhelm I. The German neighborhood is full of imposing palaces, ministries , libraries, etc Finally, the ship approaches another new neighborhood, the so-called European, where the European institutions such as the Palace of Human Rights, the Council of Europe or the European Parliament are located.

Continuing the boat ride along the river, we pass by the Plaza de la República, a neighborhood built by the Germans during their possession of the city from 1870, thanks to Kaiser Wilhelm I. 

It cannot be denied that Strasbourg is a city for all tastes.

Previous articleThe 10 best coves and beaches in Menorca
Next articleNew slopes and hot springs in the ski resorts of Andorra and the French Pyrenees