Visit Strasbourg by Mouse
is south of both Metz and Nancy in the Alsace region
in northeastern France very near the German border. By its history
it is at least as much German as French. It became part of Germany in the late 19th century, reverted to France after WW I, annexed
to Germany again during WW II and by France again after the war. For much of its history it was a free city, unallied to any state.
In the early 1300's the citizens and guilds of the city successfully fought a revolution against the Roman Catholic Bishop, setting
up a relatively democratic government in which the guilds had a prominent role. As a free city it could and did mint its own coinage,
and hold fairs and markets. Today it is the ninth largest city in France and is the official home to the European Parliament, even
though most of the EU's business is done in Brussels and Luxembourg.
The city has many attractions. There is an old town center which is easy to walk. There are two very nice plazas, the Kleber and the
Gutenberg, but neither one are in the same league as the Stanislav or the Place de la Carriere in Nancy
was a war hero and Gutenberg
was, of course, the inventer of the moveable type printing press and had lived in Strasbourg for a decade. Indeed, the first
commercial application of printing took place there shortly after the invention. This resulted in a pretty rapid technological development
of the press into a dependable and fast producer of print media.
The Strasbourg Cathedral
, which dates from the early 1200's, towers over the town center. It's bell tower is taller than the tallest
Egyption pyramid. Its west front of dark brown sandstone is very gothic, with pointed arches and statues seemingly everywhere. The
Cathedral also has some romanesque rounded arches elsewhere. One of the features in the Cathedral is a very large astronomical clock
dating from the mid 1500's. (See photos
The city is built on an island in the Rhine river, and there is an area of the city,
called Petite France, in which tanners, fishermen and other workers lived and worked. It has has canals, canal locks,
bridges and many very pretty half-timbered buildings. Whereever there are waterways within cities in Europe you can expect there
to be sightseeing boats, and Strasbourg is no exception. The boats were full of tourists when we walked there.
many museums, but we had time only for one, and chose the History museum--which turned out to be a very good choice. It covered
the history of the city through an audio guide system which was unique in our experience. Instead of entering a number on a
keyboard that matched the number on the display, as in other museums we have visited, in this one all you had to do was stand near
the exhibit and and the audioguide would start to describe it and its role. If you reach a point in the presentation where you
decide that you need not hear any more, all you do is walk away and stand near any other exhibit that interests you. One of
the many things we learned about Strasbourg's history is that the city had been extremely antisemitic. In 1349 there was a pogrom
that resulted in the burning to death of several hundred Jews. We learned nothing about how things are today, or, for that matter,
what was the fate of the Jews living in Strasbourg before and during WW II when the Nazis took it over.