Monday, October 7, 2013

Strasbourg - France

It has been the end of an excellent three day stay in Strasbourg.

A small history and geography lesson for you. Strasbourg is now in France. It is the capital of the Alsace region. Strasbourg has alternated between being part of Germany and France. The result of being part of both countries has had a profound effect on Strasbourg culture. This was an old rich city, and being on the Rhine, it was an important port. Today the city is very well connected by road and rail and though there is an airport, you are better advised to fly to Basel and take a short 70 minute train ride into Strasbourg.

Today Strasbourg is an important city. It is the seat of several important European institutions such as the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the International Institute of Human Rights and many more. Historically, Strasbourg was important too. Joanes Gutenberg the man who invented the printing press either lived here or invented the press here. There is some confusion on this topic

The most beautiful part of Strasbourg, the city centre, is an island called Ill Grande. This island has some 27 bridges connecting to the rest of the land. The whole island was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO some years ago. So, it is well worth visiting.

So what is Strasbourg like? It is in some ways like Ghent and Bruges in as much as it has a lot of waterways and like them, this too was an old rich city. Strasbourg is full of extremely beautiful well preserved buildings. The Petit France quarter is gorgeous. The wooden pillared buildings with white walls and pretty flowers are captivating. Tourists like us cannot but take photographs. This was a really beautiful area.

The Cathedral, which for many years was the world’s tallest building, is magnificent. To a large extent, you cannot appreciate the scale of the Cathedral as the area around it is `developed’. What I mean is that unlike most structures of this size the Cathedral is no open space around it. So you literally stand right in front of it. Taking photographs is difficult as the camera cannot capture the sheer size of the structure when you are so close.   

You do have to take a boat ride around the city. You pass a series of locks. In some the boat goes up and in others the boat goes down. Quite fascinating. It is quite nice and the boat takes you to the area where the European Parliament is located. The architecture here is totally modern. I do not have a problem with this. One part of the city has modern architecture while the rest is classic. The two styles are not mixed.

Strasbourg is extremely pretty. I mean really pretty. With Bruges, Ghent, Heidelberg it ranks as a really pretty place. Bologna and Toulouse were nice too, but they cannot compete on beauty and prettiness with Strasbourg.

This is a must visit. All the photographs are like picture postcards. Here are a few. Too much of a good thing is bad.

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