Discover Strasbourg history
Strasbourg is situated near the Rhine, and it was formerly one of the most important strongholds of France, not only for the fortifications surrounding the city, but also for the “Citadel” that Louis XIV had built in the late seventeenth century by Vauban (1633-1707). Placed in one of the few points of docking accessible to the Rhine, Strasbourg is a natural point of transition defined by its position but the city was actually born about three kilometres from the river and communicates with the Rhine through two channels.
In ancient times it began as a Celtic village, then later it became a Roman castrum called Argentoratus. The name, etymologically, means 'Passing on the Water' or, rather, 'a place where one passes water. Julius Caesar made it a deeply romanicized city, as demonstrated by many archaeological finds.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, in 496 A.D it became the domain of the Franks under Clovis. In the sixth century the town was renamed and it became Strateburg, the 'city of roads' or 'meeting point of many roads', and then 'Strasbur'. Between the sixth and seventh centuries it became the Duke's of Alsace domain and Episcopal seat, who in practice dominated the city until its transformation in a Municipality.
Over the centuries, Strasbourg became an important place of waterway passage for navigation on the Rhine and a key point for river trade within a radius of ten miles; in fact, Charlemagne, in 775, authorized the city to trade throughout the Empire.
The city was dominated by the Bishop’s power until 1262, when Bishop Walter de Geroldseck was defeated by the bourgeoisie in the battle of Hausbergen. Strasbourg in 1332 became “Imperial City”, with great autonomy and privileges which were confirmed between 1356 and 1368 by the German Emperor Charles IV (1316-1378), and which were successfully defended in 1429 against a new attempt by Bishop Guillom de Diest to dominate the city.
The first half of the fifteenth century was very important for Strasbourg; called in that period “Strassburg”, because it was at that time that the cathedral was built (1439), by Jean Hültz, and because the printing press was invented here (1440) by Jean Gutenberg.
Furthermore, between the thirteenth and sixteenth century, the city became one of the most powerful fortifications first of the German Empire and then of France. It was reinforced during the Middle Ages, becoming a place surrounded by walls and towers and the city was accessible only through the doors: the “Porte de Saverne” (1349), “Porte de Pierres” (1347), “Porte des Juifs” (1399), “Porte de Bouchers” (1400), “Porte des pêcheurs” (1541) and “Porte Blanche”, also of the sixteenth century.
As already mentioned, Louis XIV had the city strengthened by Vauban, who built the Citadel, pentagonal in shape and armed with five bastions - it was begun in 1682 and completed in 1685; this system of fortifications remain intact until 1866, when it had some modifications to adapt it to the attacks of modern artillery.
Until 1870, its military arsenal was one of the largest in France. The city had in eight barracks with possibly 12000 men and 1800 horses; in addition its reserves of food and ammunitions could be used to supply approximately 180,000 men.
Strasbourg is a city famous and powerful in terms of artistic, commercial and industrial. Strasbourg today has become once again a central place of politics, the seat of the European Parliament and then the engine of the New Europe.
Photos taken within 10 km
Address: Strasbourg, Strasbourg-Ville, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, 67000 || GPS: latitude 48.5844, longitude 7.74861
Map of the region
Highlights close by
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Strasbourg history, France
- Strasbourg - town of art and history
- Strasbourg Grand Ile - heritage site
- Jardin botanique de l'université de Strasbourg - remarkable garden
- Bischheim - ville fleurie 4* (3km)
- Jardin du chateau de Kolbsheim - remarkable garden (12km)
- Le jardin de Marguerite - remarkable garden (13km)
- Jardin de l'Escalier - remarkable garden (17km)
- Obernai - recommended detour (24km)
- Drusenheim - ville fleurie 4* (25km)
- Domaine du Windeck - remarkable garden (28km)
Market days in Strasbourg history: Regular market(s) are held in Strasbourg history each Wednesday all day & Tuesday & Thursday & Sunday & Saturday & Monday all day & Friday all day. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)