Second only to Paris’ famous cathedral of the same name, the Strasbourg Cathedral de Notre-Dame (also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg, or simply, Strasbourg Cathedral) is the second-most-visited cathedral in France, drawing up to 4 million annual visitors. With its 465-foot (142-meter) spire (the second-highest in France) and dramatic red façade sculpted from Vosges sandstone, the cathedral is Strasbourg’s most unmistakable landmark and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988.
While the cathedral’s history dates back to 1015, the majority of the present-day structure dates from between the 12th and 15th centuries, blending a cornucopia of architectural styles from Romanesque to Late Gothic. Highlights include a series of 12th-century stained glass windows, a magnificent 18-meter-tall astronomical clock and the 66-meter high viewing platform, reached by a grand 300-step spiral staircase and offering unbeatable views over the city.
Built between 1732 and 1742 for the then-Bishop оf Strasbourg, Cardinal Armand Gaston Maximilien de Rohan, the Palais Rohan has played host to a series of impressive guests throughout its history—Louis XV, Marie Antoinette, Napoléon Bonaparte and Charles X have all spent time at the palace. Today, the remarkably preserved building is one of the city’s most celebrated works of Baroque architecture, designed by Joseph Massol and looking out onto the Ill riverfront.
Since 1870, the Palais Rohan has been home to three of Strasbourg’s most important museums, as well as the Robert Heitz Gallery. On the first floor, the Museum of Fine Art includes works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Renoir and Monet, among many others. The ground-floor Museum of Decorative Arts displays an array of 17th- to 19th-century furnishings, sculptures, jewelry and ceramics within the former Cardinal apartments.
Named after one-time Strasbourg resident Johannes Gutenberg, who famously invented the movable-type printing press in 1439, Gutenberg Square remains an important commercial and navigational center of Strasbourg’s Old Town, strategically located close to the landmark Cathedral of Notre Dame. Today the square is best known as a meeting place, lined with cafes and restaurants, but a statue of the square’s namesake still takes prize place at its heart—designed by David d'Angers in 1840.
With many of its half-timbered buildings dating back to medieval times, Gutenberg Square is also celebrated for its striking architecture, most notably the Renaissance-style Chambre de Commerce (Chamber of Commerce) and the 16th-century Hotel de Commerce, from where writer Arthur Young watched the destruction of the magistrates' records during the Revolution.
The self-proclaimed capital of the Alsace wine region, Colmar is an undeniable highlight of the famous Alsace Wine Route and renowned for its beautifully preserved medieval center. Colmar is postcard-worthy from all angles, with its half-timbered buildings painted in a rainbow of colors, fishing boats bobbing along the flower-lined canal ways and maze of cobblestone lanes dotted with small cafés and artisan shops.
Colmar’s compact center makes it feel more like a village than a town, and the main sights can be easily explored on foot, including architectural gems like the dramatic Maison des Tetes (House of the Heads), the 16th-century wooden Maison Pfister (Pfister House) and the pink sandstone St Martin Church. Additional highlights of Colmar include Mathias Grünewald’s 16th-century Issenheim Altarpiece, on show at the Unterlinden Museum; the Bartholdi museum, dedicated to the Colmar-born architect and the aptly-named La Petite Venis.
One of Strasbourg’s oldest and most famous buildings, the Maison Kammerzell (Kammerzell House) is a remarkably preserved example of medieval architecture, and its traditional timber framing and ornate carvings make it a popular subject of tourist photographs. Although originally built in 1427, the house owes much of its modern-day appearance to renovations undertaken in the 16th. It also takes its name from its 19th-century owner, grocer Philippe Kammerzell.
Today, the Kammerzell House is home to a period-style hotel and restaurant, and makes an atmospheric dining venue, with its authentic décor including vaulted ceilings, arched stained-glass windows and a series of elaborate frescos by early 20th-century painter Leo Schnug.
Built in 1690 by its namesake—legendary military engineer Sebastien Vauban—the Vauban Dam (Barrage Vauban) was designed not only as the city’s principal lock, but as an integral part of Strasbourg’s fortifications. Guarding the southwestern entrance to the Grande Île, the dam spans the width of the River Ill and has the capacity to flood the entire southern end of the town in case of attack.
Today the grand lock, with its 13 arches, magnificent sculptures and grass-topped terrace, is among the city’s most recognizable landmarks and makes a popular lookout point, offering panoramic views over the nearby Covered Bridges (Ponts Couverts), the Old Town canals and the distant Cathedral of Notre Dame.
A trio of bridges arching over the canal ways of the River Ill, the Strasbourg Covered Bridges are an iconic symbol of the city, marking the gateway to its central Grande Ile. Somewhat confusingly named, since none of the three bridges remain covered, the bridges once formed an important part of the city’s medieval fortifications and featured wooden canopies from where soldiers could protect the dam below.
Today the bridges are a lasting vestige of medieval Strasbourg, and while their ramparts were destroyed back in the 18th century, the remains of the 14th-century square towers that once linked the bridges together still stand. The historic bridges are best viewed from the grass-topped terrace of the nearby Vauban Dam (Barrage Vauban), which offers panoramic views of the surrounding La Petite France district, or on a boat cruise around the city’s canal ways, passing beneath the arches of the fabled bridges.
De kerstmarkt van Straatsburg, ook bekend als Christkindelsmarik, wordt als sinds 1570 in de oude binnenstad gehouden. Het is de oudste kerstmarkt van Frankrijk en een van de oudste in Europa. Deze markt trekt jaarlijks 2 miljoen bezoekers. Straatsburg staat bekend als een van de meest sfeervolle vakantiebestemmingen in Frankrijk. Het Grande Île wordt versierd met prachtige verlichting, er staat een grote kerstboom op Place Kléber en er wordt een grote openlucht ijsbaan geopend op Place du Château. De historische markt is echter het middelpunt van dit winterse vermaak in de stad.
Elk jaar vanaf eind november staan er meer dan 300 traditionele houten chalets op Place Broglie, waar een keur aan ambachtelijke producten wordt aangeboden. Ook zijn er kerstversieringen en seizoensproducten te krijgen. Geniet van live zang, muziekbands en feestelijke lichtshows terwijl u geniet van een beker Vin chaud (glühwein). Of ga voor de lokale specialiteiten, zoals het ovengerecht baeckeoffe.
The striking Cathedral of Notre-Dame might be Strasbourg’s most famous religious building, but the comparatively modest St Thomas Church still stands out as one of the city’s most unique designs. Combining its 12th-century Romanesque façade with Gothic touches added in the 16th century, the protestant church appears more like a castle than a church and boasts five naves and a single tower.Inside the church, notable highlights include a 10-meter-tall fresco of Saint Michael; an 18th-century Silbermann organ, famously played by Mozart; and an impressive collection of 18th and 19th-century tombs, including the elaborate Marshal of Saxony mausoleum, the work of legendary sculptor J.B. Pigalle.
Towering a half-mile (757 meters) over the Alsace Plain, the striking pink sandstone towers of High Koenigsbourg Castle (Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg) are an unmissable sight, and the fairytale fortress is among the most popular attractions of the famous Alsace Wine Route. Although originally built in the 12th century for the German Hohenzollern family, the majority of the current castle dates back to the 19th century, when it was extensively renovated by Prussian Emperor William II.
As well as admiring the romantic spires and richly decorated façade from up close, the highlight of a visit to High Koenigsbourg Castle is the impressive view from the hilltop, spanning over the surrounding Vosges Mountains, Germany’s Black Forest region and as far as the Swiss Alps on a clear day. Tours of the castle interiors are also available, where visitors can explore the windmill, wine cellars, living quarters and medieval gardens.
At the heart of Strasbourg’s La Petite France district, tucked amid the half-timbered houses and snaking canals of the historic neighborhood, the Tanners House, or Maison des Tanneurs, is one of the area’s most famous landmarks. A lasting vestige of the old tanners district, the former tannery was built in 1572 and is known for its timbered galleries and slanted roofs, where dyed hides were once draped to dry in the sun.
Transformed into a restaurant in 1949, the Tanners House is now home to La Maison de la Choucroute, which serves up traditional Alsatian cuisine in authentic surroundings, with the original 16th-century beams complemented by antique furnishings and window boxes overflowing with geraniums. For the most atmospheric spot, book a table on the open-air terrace, from where the views stretch along the riverfront.
Encircled by the River Ill and the Canal du Faux Rempart, the Grande Île or “Big Island,” is the UNESCO–listed historic center of Strasbourg and home to the majority of the city’s top attractions. For most visitors to the city, the Grande Île serves as the prime focus of sightseeing tours. It also hosts Strasbourg’s world-famous Christmas market during the festive season.
Start your walking tour at the legendary Cathedral of Notre Dame, the city’s most iconic landmark, where you can take in views of the city from the 216-foot-high (66 meters) viewing platform. Next door, the Palais Rohan (Rohan Palace) is home to the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Galerie Robert Heitz, while the ornate Maison Kammerzell is a fine example of a half-timbered medieval townhouse. Additional highlights include the St Thomas Church and the picturesque La Petite France district.