Part beautifully preserved medieval gem, part unofficial capital of Europe and one of the most important modern cities on the continent; Strasbourg – the glorious capital of France’s beautiful Alsace region – is as cosmopolitan and captivating as they come. The city’s cultural centre is particularly appealing, with its eye-catching old and glittering European quarters boasting an array of diverse architectural treasures.
At the very heart of Strasbourg’s cultural centre is Grande Île. This section of the city is the most popular tourist spot here and for good reason too; it was the first city centre to be listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, in recognition of its magnificent medieval architecture and displays of Franco-German culture. No time spent in Strasbourg is complete without exploring Grande Île to the full. Here you can marvel at the mesmerising 15th century gothic cathedral, the world’s fourth largest church; visit the ancient churches of St Thomas, St Pierre-le-Vieux, St Pierre-le-Jeune, and St Étienne; take in the rows of charming half-timbered houses and medieval fortifications within ‘Petite France’; and stop-by Palais Rohan, the former residence of the prince-bishops.
The contrasting sights of the thriving European quarter are well worth a look too. This energetic district, situated in the north section of the city centre, is home to many of the continent’s most important and iconic buildings including the impressive European Court of Human Rights and the European Parliament building.
Elsewhere in the city you’ll discover fine examples of art nouveau architecture, such as Palais des Fêtes; and contemporary architectural delights such as the Musée d'Art moderne et contemporain and Hôtel du Département. Don’t miss the eclecticist designs of the Neustadt (German Quarter) too. Strasbourg is also home to a collection of fantastic museums and galleries, as well as several beautiful parks such as Parc de l'Orangerie, Parc de la Citadelle – built around the remains of a 17th century fortress near the Rhine – and the Jardin botanique de l'Université de Strasbourg.