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Strasbourg History

Strasbourg, or ‘the town at the crossroads’, has always occupied a strategic position in >Europe.

Originally a Roman camp called Argentoratum, it served as a defensive fort. The streets of this small, fortified area built on a marshy island on the Ill river would later become the city of Strasbourg.

In 1262, Strasbourg became a free city of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire and, behind its fortified walls, power gravitated around the emblematic Pfalz, or town hall.

Strasbourg was annexed to France in 1681 as Louis XV realised its strategic importance.

The 18th century witnessed the start of a burgeoning court of nobles and wealthy bourgeois, who built numerous mansions such as those in rue Brûlée and rue de la Nuée Bleue.

The French Revolution in 1792 left the city in a terrible state; many churches and cloisters were destroyed or damaged.

However, after 1830, Strasbourg consolidated its position as a major European crossroads and began to modernise.

With the growth of industry, the city’s population tripled in the 19th century. The sewage system was built, streets were paved, and the Rhone-Rhine Canal and Marais-Vert railway station opened.

In 1871, after the Franco-Prussian war, Strasbourg was annexed to the newly established German Empire. The city was rebuilt and developed on a grand scale (the Neue Stadt or ‘new city’).

Strasbourg returned to France after WWI. The war had not notably damaged the city and between the two wars, Strasbourg continued to prosper.

But after the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, the entire city was evacuated. With the Fall of France in June 1940, Alsace was annexed to Germany.

After liberation in 1944, Alsace was returned to France and Strasbourg became the symbol of reconciliation between France and Germany.

Strasbourg is now the seat of several European institutions including the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights and the European Parliament.

Did you know?
• ‘La Marseillaise’ was composed in Strasbourg in 1792.
• Strasbourg’s historic centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988.
• Strasbourg Cathedral celebrated its 1,000th birthday in 2015.

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Featured Hotels

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Hôtel Maison Rouge

Well suited for small business meetings and located close to the pedestrianised area around place Kléber, this stylish hotel, with its high-ceilinged breakfast room, is full of character. Its rooms and suites are individually decorated, and the dining room and hall display beautiful pieces of furniture and ceramics.

Hôtel Monopole Métropole

Not far from the station, this 19th-century three-star hotel is in a quiet street close to the old quarter. Its elegant rooms feature mainly contemporary furnishings, with a few pleasing traditional touches added. This mix of modern and traditional extends to the dining room, with its soaring wooden ceiling and medieval-style alcoves.

Hôtel de l’Ill

This family-run two-star hotel is in the Krutenau district just a few minutes' walk from the cathedral on the other side of the River Ill. The 27 rooms are simply furnished, but the welcome is very warm. If you want a terrace, book the triple room.

Le Kléber Hôtel

You can't beat the location of this cosy two-star hotel – it's right on Place Kléber and steps away from major tram stops. Rooms have colour themes based on spices and other flavours, some with beamed ceilings and tucked into alcoves. Attic rooms offer great views of the square.

Hôtel Hannong

The Horn brothers, renowned modern art collectors, founded this stylish hotel in the 1920s on the site of an 18th-century Hannong china factory. Its understated rooms have contemporary décor with the odd splash of colour amid the neutral palettes. Have a drink in the classy Black & Wine bar and its intimate garden.

Hôtel Régent Petite France & Spa

This chic hotel a former ice factory consists of three 17th-century buildings overlooking the Ill River in Petite France. Behind a traditional façade the hotel's interior is decorated in sleek contemporary designs and original paintings. Facilities include a gastronomic restaurant a champagne bar and a spa with an outdoor hot tub.