What to see in Alsace?

Alsace is a historical, cultural and administrative region towards the northeast of France and one of the most beautiful regions of the country. It is located near the border of Germany and Switzerland, and was the cause of some conflicts over the territory from the seventeenth century until World War II, between the French and Germans. 

Despite being part of France, there are many places with German names and gastronomy, as well as traditions with a mixture of both countries. As of 2021 it is considered the European Collectivity of Alsace, for being a very special administrative collectivity.

Its villages are famous for their colorful houses and traditional half-timbering, as well as its vineyards. At Christmas time, these villages have Christmas markets, famous all over the world and for the colorful lights, everywhere and in the houses. Below, we will explain some places you can visit if you are going to visit Alsace.

Capital of Alsace, Strasbourg:

Strasbourg, the French city of Alsace and its capital, plays an important role in the infrastructure of the European Union and in legislative matters; it is also one of the largest cities and one of the financial centers of France. 

Its historic center is considered a World Heritage Site by Unesco for its beautiful architecture. Important places to visit in Strasbourg are its imposing Cathedral, the Kléber square, the Petite France neighborhood, among others.

Important sites in Strasbourg:

  • The spectacular Cathedral of Strasbourg or Notre-Dame: one of the most impressive in Europe, with Gothic style and a bell tower that measures 142 meters high; being for its time the tallest construction, which was completed in 1439. In the 17th century it was consecrated to the cult of the Virgin Mary, which had previously been Protestant. It was also declared a World Heritage Site in 1988. 
  • The Astronomical Clock, a work dating from 1842. It stands out because it not only shows the time but also the calendar, with day, month and year, the position of the planets, the phases of the moon and the procession of the figures. This means that at 12 noon every day the figures of the Apostles parade before Christ, so that he blesses them just at the moment when the rooster moves his wings.
  • Kléber Square: this square is located very close to the Cathedral, that is, in the historic center of Strasbourg. At Christmas time, the famous tree is installed in this place, measuring about 30 meters high, which is decorated with 1000 lights, becoming the most important symbol during this period. In addition, in this square begins the lighting of the city and the opening of the markets is declared.
  • The Petite France district in Strasbourg: in ancient times, fishermen, leather tanners and millers lived and worked in this district, which was built on the banks of the canals of the tributaries of the Rhine River. You can observe the construction of its beautiful houses of the XVI and XVII centuries, with their wooden lattices, painted in colors and others in black and white. Currently converted into hotels.

Some of the beautiful villages in Alsace: 

  • The village of Kaysersberg: this village is a favorite of the French and is surrounded by vineyards, as it is located on a hill. It has an area of about 25 square kilometers and a population of 2700 inhabitants. The village is separated into 2 parts because it is crossed by the river Weiss, but it is kept together by a fortified bridge. 

Its houses stand out for their colors and the flowers that fill their balconies. We can also enjoy its historic center, visit the square located between the Fountain of Constantine and the church Ste Croix, visit the castle of Kaysersberg dating from the thirteenth century, to better observe the entire region and its vineyards, stroll along the fortified bridge or simply taste its pastry. 

  • The town of Colmar: it is said to be the second most popular city in Alsace. It has the atmosphere of a village, but has the comfort of a city, such as trains, buses, restaurants, accommodations, gastronomy, among others. In Colmar there is a lot to know, such as the Petite Venice or little Venice, with its typical houses and canals of the Launch River.

You can also stroll along the Rue des Marchands, which is a street where the Schongauer House, the Pfister House, the Weinhof House and the Bartholdi Museum are located. In addition, the Place de l’ Ancienne Douane, has a sculpture of the author of the Statue of Liberty in New York, Auguste Bartholdi. 

Also, in the Place de la Cathedrale, you can visit the 12th century church, called the Collegiate Church of St. Martin. In the Place des Dominicains, the Church of the Dominicans dating from 1289 to 1364, the 13th century convent of the Dominican nuns, converted into the Unterlinden Museum, among others.

  • The famous village of Eguisheim: we are talking about a small circular village, with narrow streets and usually traveled on foot, since cars are left in the parking lot, as it is surrounded by an ancient wall. Therefore, its streets always end at a central point; as if it were a labyrinth, composed of colorful houses and half-timbered houses.

In the center of the village and on a hill is a castle, which is supposed to have served as inspiration for the creation of the film Beauty and the Beast. The town of Eguisheim also offers alternatives to visit, such as the Rue du Rempart, which is the most important street and the Place du Chateau Saint Leon, the largest square in town, which is located in its center.

You can also visit the 8th century Bas d’Eguisheim Castle, where Pope St. Leo IX was born in 1002, or the 3 square towers called Weckmund, Wahlenbourg and Dagsbourg, which belonged to the Eguisheim family, who were burned at the stake for conflicts in the War of the Six Onions. Later these towers passed into the hands of the bishops of Strasbourg in 1230.

Posted in Europe, France.