Strasbourg Tourist Attractions
Strasbourg lies at the intersection of important traffic routes on the left bank of the Rhine, which at this point is joined by the river Ill, the Rhine-Marne Canal and the Rhine-Rhône Canal.
With its soaring cathedral and many burghers' houses of the 16th and 17th centuries, Strasbourg still retains something of the character of an old free city of the Holy Roman Empire, but is also typically French with its elegant buildings in Louis XV style, dating from the time of the French Cardinal-Bishops of the 18th century, and its numerous mansard roofs. The city's principal industries are metal-working, the manufacture of building materials and the production of foodstuffs (paté de foie gras), followed by papermaking, textiles and tanning. The port of Strasbourg is the largest on the Upper Rhine, and is particularly active in the export trade. Tourism has now also become an important element in the economy of the city, which attracts increasing numbers of visitors as the principal tourist center of Alsace and the venue of numerous congresses and conferences.
About A.D. 16 the Romans established a fortified post which they called Argentoratum beside an earlier Celtic settlement situated on important trade routes. In the fourth century the Alemanni built a new settlement on its ruins, and this appears in the records in the sixth century under the name of Strataburgum ("the fortified town on the roads"). In 842 Louis (Ludwig) the German and Charles the Bald confirmed their alliance against Lothair I in the "Serments de Strasbourg" ("Strasbourg Oaths"), one of the earliest specimens of Old French. Strasbourg became the see of a bishop in 1003 and rose to considerable prosperity through its shipping and its trade. In 1262, after a conflict with the bishop and the nobility, it achieved independence as a free imperial city, which for a time was the wealthiest and most brilliant in the Holy Roman Empire, a city in which art and learning flourished. In the 14th century the Dominican preachers and mystics Meister Eckhart and Johannes Tauler lived in Strasbourg, and between 1434 and 1444 Gutenberg developed the art of printing here. After the coming of the Reformation in 1520 Strasbourg numbered among its citizens the Protestant writer and satirist Johannes Fischart (1546-1590) and the educationalist Johannes Sturm (1507- 1589), rector of the Protestant grammar school and founder of a theological academy which was the forerunner of the University.
In 1681, taking advantage of the weakness of the Holy Roman Empire, Louis XIV occupied Strasbourg and soon afterwards had it fortified by Vauban. Until 1793, however, the town retained a degree of autonomy, and French cultural influence did not assert itself until the time of Napoleon. After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 Strasbourg, along with the rest of Alsace (apart from Belfort) and part of Lorraine, returned to German sovereignty, and remained German until the end of World War I.
The establishment of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in 1949, followed by a number of other European institutions, and the city's history and geographical situation seemed to make it a predestined future capital of Europe. In 1988 Strasbourg celebrated the 2,000th anniversary of its foundation.