Monday, March 12, 2012



This city on the border with France and Germany was the third stop on my first week of vacation. Known for its iconic Christmas market every winter, Strasbourg marries French and German culture in a very visible way. This region of France (Alsace-Lorraine, in the Northeast corner of the country), has bounced between French and German control for centuries before finally landing permanently in France's hands after World War II. The blend of these two cultures has created a unique little corner in Alsace-Lorraine and Strasbourg has a very unique atmosphere.

pretty franco-germanic houses

Perhaps because of its status on the border of 2 countries/cultures, perhaps because of its already diplomatic history, but in any case, Strasbourg is the seat of several important European organizations, including the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.

Being there for less than 24 hours, I had to prioritize my visit. Unfortunately, most of the things that I had researched and wanted to see were closed on Tuesdays. The day that I was there. Churches were open, of course, so I got to visit plenty of them!

the cathedral

There are also several important religious and historic figures who are either from Strasbourg or who lived there at some point in their lives. Gutenberg, of printing press fame, lived in Strasbourg for a few years. As well, Charles de Foucauld, a French religious who lived in the North African desert as a hermit for years, was born in Strasbourg. I also saw statues of army generals and military figures who I did not know.


blessed charles de foucauld

What is pretty cool about Strasbourg is its history with town artisans. Neighborhoods were divided by trades, and the city has worked to maintain a bit of that cultural influence.

huge barrel in the wine-makers neighborhood

Another interesting sight in Strasbourg is the Covered Bridge. Originally a fortification for the city against invaders by water, the bridge used to be completely covered. Though now only the stone towers remain, the Covered Bridge is still an icon of the city.

In all honesty, I was a bit disappointed with Strasbourg. I can tell it is a beautiful city, but I blame this negative attitude on uncontrollable circumstances: the weather (which can dramatically affect the impression of a city), everything being closed, and a disappointing lack of Christmas. I'm sure if I came back during the Christkindlemarkt, with all the lights, mulled wine, trees, and liveliness, I would like Strasbourg much more. I'll just have to come back!

pax christi.

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