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Strasbourg Visitor information

Strasbourg/

Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. Strasbourg's historic city centre, the Grande Île (Grand Island), was classified a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1988, the first time such an honour was placed on an entire city centre.

Architecture

The city is chiefly known for its sandstone Gothic Cathedral with its famous astronomical clock, and for its medieval cityscape of Rhineland black and white timber-framed buildings, particularly in the Petite-France district or Gerberviertel ("tanners' district") in the streets and squares surrounding the cathedral, where the renowned Maison Kammerzell stands out.

As for modern and contemporary architecture, Strasbourg possesses some fine Art Nouveau buildings. The huge Palais des Fêtes, some houses and villas on Avenue de la Robertsau and Rue Sleidan are all good examples of post-World War II functional architecture. Noticeable contemporary buildings are the new Music school Cité de la Musique et de la Danse, the Musée d'Art moderne et contemporain and the Hôtel du Département facing it, as well as, in the outskirts, the tramway-station Hoenheim-Nord designed by Zaha Hadid.

The largest square at the centre of the city of Strasbourg is the Place Kléber. Located in the heart of the city's commercial area, it was named after general Jean-Baptiste Kléber, born in Strasbourg in 1753 and assassinated in 1800 in Cairo. In the square is a statue of Kléber, under which is a vault containing his remains. On the north side of the square is the Aubette (Orderly Room), built by Jacques François Blondel, architect of the king, in 1765–1772.

Parks

Strasbourg features a number of prominent parks, of which several are of cultural and historical interest.

The Parc de l'Orangerie was laid out as a French garden by André le Nôtre and remodeled as an English garden on behalf of Joséphine de Beauharnais. It now displays noteworthy French gardens, a neo-classical castle and a small zoo. The Parc de la Citadelle was built around impressive remains of the 17th-century fortress erected close to the Rhine by Vauban. The Parc de Pourtalès was laid out in English style around a baroque castle (heavily restored in the 19th century) that now houses a small three star hotel and features an open-air museum of international contemporary sculpture. The Jardin botanique de l'Université de Strasbourg (botanical garden) was created under the German administration next to the Observatory of Strasbourg, built in 1881, and still owns some greenhouses of those times. The Parc des Contades, although the oldest park of the city, was completely remodelled after World War II. The futuristic Parc des Poteries is an example of European park-conception in the late 1990s. The Jardin des deux Rives, spread over Strasbourg and Kehl on both sides of the Rhine, is the most recent (2004) and most extended (60 hectare) park of the agglomeration.

Museums

For a city of comparatively small size, Strasbourg displays a large quantity and variety of museums. Unlike most other cities, Strasbourg's collections of European art are divided into several museums according not only to type and area, but also to epoch. Old master paintings from the Germanic Rhenish territories and until 1681 are displayed in the Musée de l'Œuvre Notre-Dame, old master paintings from all the rest of Europe (including the Dutch Rhenish territories) and until 1871 as well as old master paintings from the Germanic Rhenish territories between 1681 and 1871 are displayed in the Musée des Beaux-Arts. Old master graphic arts until 1871 are displayed in the Cabinet des Estampes et Dessins. Decorative arts until 1681 ("German period") are displayed in the Musée de l'Œuvre Notre-Dame, decorative arts from 1681 to 1871 ("French period") are displayed in the Musée des Arts décoratifs. International art (painting, sculpture, graphic arts) and decorative art since 1871 is displayed in the Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain. The latter museum also displays the city's photographic library.

Transport

Strasbourg has its own airport which serves major domestic destinations, as well as international destinations in Europe and northern Africa.

Train services operate from Gare de Strasbourg eastward to Offenburg and Karlsruhe in Germany, westward to Metz and Paris, and southward to Basel. Strasbourg's links with the rest of France have improved due to its recent connection to the TGV network, with the first phase of the TGV Est (Paris–Strasbourg) in 2007.

City transportation in Strasbourg is served by a futurist-looking tram system that has been operated since 1994 by the regional transit company Compagnie des Transports Strasbourgeois and as of 2010 consists of 6 lines (A, B, C, D, E and F) adding up to a total of 55.8 km (34.7 mi). A former tram system, partly following different routes, had been operating since 1878 but was ultimately dismantled in 1960.

With more than 500 km (311 mi) of bicycle paths, biking in the city is convenient. Compagnie des Transports Strasbourgeois operates a cheap bike-sharing scheme named Vélhop'.

History 

Strasbourg History

Strasbourg/

The first traces of human occupation in the environs of Strasbourg go back 600,000 years. Neolithic, bronze age and iron age artifacts have been uncovered by archeological excavations. It was permanently settled by proto-Celts around 1300 BC. Towards the end of the third century BC, it developed into a Celtish township with a market called "Argentorate". Drainage works converted the stilthouses to houses built on dry land.

The Romans under Nero Claudius Drusus established a military outpost belonging to the Germania Superior Roman province at Strasbourg's current location, and named it Argentoratum. The name "Argentoratum" was first mentioned in 12 BC and the city celebrated its 2,000th birthday in 1988. "Argentorate" as the toponym of the Gaulish settlement preceding it before being Latinized, but it is not known by how long. The Roman camp was destroyed by fire and rebuilt six times between the first and the fifth centuries AD: in 70, 97, 235, 355, in the last quarter of the fourth century, and in the early years of the fifth century. It was under Trajan and after the fire of 97 that Argentoratum received it’s most extended and fortified shape. From the year 90 on, the Legio VIII Augusta was permanently stationed in the Roman camp of Argentoratum.

In the 1520s during the Protestant Reformation, the city, under the political guidance of Jacob Sturm von Sturmeck and the spiritual guidance of Martin Bucer embraced the religious teachings of Martin Luther. Their adherents established a Gymnasium, headed by Johannes Sturm, made into a University in the following century. The city first followed the Tetrapolitan Confession, and then the Augsburg Confession. Protestant iconoclasm caused much destruction to churches and cloisters, notwithstanding that Luther himself opposed such a practice. Strasbourg was a centre of humanist scholarship and early book-printing in the Holy Roman Empire, and its intellectual and political influence contributed much to the establishment of Protestantism as an accepted denomination in the southwest of Germany. The Strasbourg Councillor Sturm and guildmaster Matthias represented the city at the Imperial Diet of Speyer (1529), where their protest led to the schism of the Catholic Church and the evolution of Protestantism. Together with four other free cities, Strasbourg presented the confessio tetrapolitana as its Protestant book of faith at the Imperial Diet of Augsburg in 1530, where the slightly different Augsburg Confession was also handed over to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.

After World War I and the abdication of the German Emperor, some revolutionary insurgents declared Alsace-Lorraine as an independent Republic, without preliminary referendum or vote. On 11 November 1918 (Armistice Day), communist insurgents proclaimed a "soviet government" in Strasbourg, following the example of Kurt Eisner in Munich as well as other German towns. The insurgency was brutally repressed on 22 November by troops commanded by French general Henri Gouraud; a major street of the city now bears the name of that date (Rue du 22 Novembre).

In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles reattributed the city to France. In accordance with U.S. President Woodrow Wilson's "Fourteen Points", the return of the city to France was carried out without a referendum. The date of the assignment was retroactively established on Armistice Day. It is doubtful whether a referendum among the citizens of Strasbourg would have been in France's favor, because the political parties that strove for an autonomy of Alsace, or a connection to France, had achieved only small numbers of votes in the last Reichstag elections before the War.

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