Located in the northeast corner of France is the delightful town of Strasbourg. This 2000-year-old city shares a border with Germany and has a fascinating history of yo-yoing from French to German territory. The food, language and culture are neither French or German, they are truly Alsatian, a culture of its own.
Exciting and beautiful, Strasbourg has been the subject of a centuries long tug of war between France and Germany. This border city derives from both French and German cultures. In 1681 Strasbourg became a French city, in 1871 it became German again until the end of World War I in 1918 when it reverted to France. After the defeat of France in World War II in 1940 Strasbourg came under German control again and since the end of 1944 a French city.
First-time visitors will notice that Strasbourg is simply beautiful. The old town is a maze of narrow alleys and cobbled streets. The buildings in the historic centre show a mix of French and German influences with designs dating from the medieval ages and throughout European history. The reflections of the houses are seen in the many waterways surrounding and running through the city.
The exquisite Cathedral Notre-Dame of Strasbourg is simply stunning, both the interior and exterior are extraordinary. The gothic stained-glass cathedral is located in Cathedral Square and features many ancient murals – the oldest stained-glass windows date back to the 13th century.
A fascinating astronomical clock, originally built in 1547 is located inside the cathedral and is a technological marvel. Every day at exactly 12.30pm an angel sounds a chime and the clock goes into action and the automatons starts. A procession of carved apostles march around in front of Jesus and just below that, figures representing the four stages of life pass before death, represented as a skeleton holding a scythe. It is absolutely fascinating to see the figures in action and to marvel that they have been doing this for hundreds of years.
Strasbourg is known for many things; the capital of the historic wine-growing region of Alsace, as a university city, as the seat of the European Parliament and as the capital of Christmas!
Strasbourg has been holding Christkindelsmartk around the cathedral since 1570, making it one of the oldest Christmas Markets in Europe. Known as the birthplace of Christmas celebrations, Strasbourg welcomes about two million visitors each year. The twinkling fairy lights, delicious aromas and colourful market stalls decoratively set up in the city’s historic centre make a visit in the festive season a true sensory experience.
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