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Strasbourg Downtown Walking Tour (Self Guided), Strasbourg

Strasbourg is considered the daughter of the Rhine River. It is famous for its history, cathedrals, architecture and gastronomy. In this walking tour you will discover interesting historical sights. All attractions are located in the heart of Strasbourg and are easy to find.
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Strasbourg Downtown Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Strasbourg Downtown Walking Tour
Guide Location: France » Strasbourg (See other walking tours in Strasbourg)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Author: ray
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Petite France
  • Place Gutenberg
  • Place du Corbeau
  • Palais Rohan
  • Cathédrale Notre-Dame
  • Maison Kammerzell
  • Place de la République
Petite France

1) Petite France (must see)

Petite France is an area on the Grand Île, called the Venice of the North because of its narrow streets and canals. It is a delightful area to visit as it takes you back to Medieval Strasbourg.

In the Middle Ages the beautiful half-timbered houses were the homes of fishermen, millers and tanners, and indeed many of the streets bear the names of the crafts carried out: Millers Street, Tanners Ditch and Lace Street, for example. The houses have the traditional tiered sloping roofs and hides were once hung up to dry on the topmost rafters.

In the late 15th century a hospice was built on the island for small-pox victims and later for French soldiers suffering from syphilis – which the German’s called the “French Disease” to stop the local girls from sleeping with the soldiers! Just an aside: at the same epoch the French called it the “Italian Disease”. The area became known as “Little France”, more out of derision than patriotism. The name stuck and today it is one of the most expensive quarters of the city.

Just to the west of Petite France, you can visit the Barrage Vauban – a weir that crosses the River Ill. It was built in 1686 by Jacques Tarade from the plans by Marquis Vauban. The weir has two storeys with wonderful sculptures on the main level, as well as a roof terrace where you can take superb photos of Petite France.

Why You Should Visit:
The most romantic neighborhood in Strasburg by far, especially at nightfall...
There are also plenty of shops and places to try authentic French dishes.
Places are open late and buildings are lit up after dark.

Walk around here early in the morning if you wish to get photos without thousands of tourists in your shots.
If you have issues walking on cobblestones, you can also take the boat or a little touristic train that goes around the Petit France.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Place Gutenberg

2) Place Gutenberg (must see)

One destination that should be on your “must-see” list is the Place Gutenberg which lies in the center of medieval Strasbourg, not far from the Cathedral.

This large square is a favorite for locals and tourists alike as it has a lot of excellent cafes and restaurants. The Chamber of Commerce building occupies one side of the square and is easily recognizable with its Renaissance style, but with the sloping roof that is typical of Alsace, where winter snow is a way of life.

There is a 16th-century hotel on the square where Arthur Young was staying when revolutionists destroyed the city’s magistrates records and where today art exhibitions are held on the ground floor. Another attraction is the flea markets that often set up around the statue in the center of the square.

The statue is, quite obviously, dedicated to Johannes Gutenberg; it was sculpted by David d’Angers in 1840 and features the famous printer holding a piece of parchment on which is inscribed the words “Et la lumière fut” (And behold, there was light) from the Book of Genesis. Around the base of the statue, bas reliefs depict notable scenes from Gutenberg’s life.

Not many people know that apart from being the inventor of the first mechanical, movable printing press in Europe in 1439 and the publisher of the Gutenberg Bible in 1455, Gutenberg lived in Strasbourg between 1434-44, where he was an apprentice goldsmith, set to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Place du Corbeau

3) Place du Corbeau

Place du Corbeau is located near the river Ill. In front of it there is the Corbeau bridge, which was the place from where criminals, locked in a cage, were dropped into the river. On the square stands the restaurant "Au Canon" which also contains within its premises an old brewery where the beer Kronenbourg was first brewed by Jérôme Hatt.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Palais Rohan

4) Palais Rohan (must see)

You will be pleasantly surprised to learn that when you go to see the museums of Strasbourg you can also visit the Rohan Palace, which houses most of them.

Since 1262 the Bishops of Strasbourg lived in a residence that became more and more dilapidated over the centuries and in 1731 the then acting Bishop, Cardinal Maximilien de Rohan commissioned a new building which was built by the architect Joseph Massol on the site of the ancient edifice.

It stands on the bank of the River Ill, a three-sided building around an interior courtyard with the main entrance guarding the fourth side. The wing used as living quarters by the Prince-Archbishop has a Classic facade and the side facing the river has a small terrace enclosed by wrought iron railings. The courtyard gate leading to the Cathedral is topped by religious sculptures.

You can visit two areas of the palace – the Grand Apartment which houses the library that also serves as the nave to the palace chapel; the Petit Apartment faces the inner courtyard and comprises the living area and vast dining room.

Several kings and queens stayed in the palace, including Louis XV, Marie Antoinette, Charles X of France and Napoleon Bonaparte with his wife Josephine and later his second wife, Marie-Louise.

From 1872 to 1892 the University was installed in the palace and in 1898 it became the seat of the municipal museums of Strasbourg. It suffered heavy damage during the bombings of WWII and a complete restoration was finished in 1994.

Why You Should Visit:
As advertised, this palace is on par with Versailles!... albeit smaller-scale.

As there are 3 different museums on one site, each charge is separate; however, you can buy the day pass to see all of them (Fine Arts, Decorative Arts, and Archaeology) or a 3-day pass that gets you into many other museums around town. Even better, go on the first Sunday of each month and visit for free!

Opening Hours:
Wed-Mon: 10am-6pm; closed on Tuesdays
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cathédrale Notre-Dame

5) Cathédrale Notre-Dame (must see)

Until 1874 the Cathédrale Notre Dame was the world's tallest building; today it is the 6th tallest church and its tower dominates the Strasbourg skyline.

Described by Victor Hugo as a "gigantic and delicate marvel", and by Goethe as a "sublimely towering, wide-spreading tree of God", the cathedral is visible far across the plains of Alsace and can be seen from as far off as the Vosges Mountains or the Black Forest on the other side of the Rhine. Sandstone from the Vosges used in construction gives the cathedral its characteristic pink hue.

It took many centuries to finish and has three distinctive styles. Only the crypt dates back to 1015 and it has been expanded over the centuries. The North Tower, built in 1439, is 142 meters high and on a clear day you can see for over 30km from the observation level. The Lawrence Portal in the North Transept was finished in 1505 in a markedly post-Gothic, early-Renaissance style.

Most of the statues in the cathedral are copies of the originals which can be seen the Museum de l’Oeuvre Notre-Dame. The stunning Astronomical Clock, built in 1843 to replace an earlier clock, is 18 meters high and is one of the largest in the world.

If you want to watch the clock "show" (including the 30min movie presentation with English subtitles) it is at 12:30 noon in summer, but you must be there at around 11:30am to book your entry at the back door of the Cathedral (palace side) since places are limited or may be pre-booked.
The climb up the tower is not difficult as long as you can take 330 steps. Get there early in the morning or after seeing the clock for the best light for photography.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Maison Kammerzell

6) Maison Kammerzell

There are two good reasons for visiting the Maison Kammerzell on the Place de la Cathédrale: the first is because you won’t find a better preserved medieval building in the city, the second is because it has an excellent restaurant on the 1st and 2nd floors.

It was built in 1427 and although it has been renovated several times since and some German Renaissance style was added in 1589, it has kept its essential Late Gothic style and charm.

The restaurant has superb lounges and a choice of three dining areas with stained or mullioned glass windows. Above the restaurant there is a small hotel with nine bedrooms boasting modern bathrooms and fixtures and fittings, but they have heavily beamed ceilings and an air of stepping back in time.

In 1904 the brilliant but unstable Alsatian artist, Léo Schnug extensively decorated the interior with stunning frescoes depicting pastoral scenes, the city at the epoch and characters from German mythology.

Léo Schnug died in an institution for the insane, as did his father before him. A notorious alcoholic, towards the end of his life, before he was interned, he paid for his drinks with sketches and drawings that must be worth a fortune today.

The poor man was haunted by the hallucination of a cat and if you look carefully at the wall in the restaurant’s alcove on the 1st floor you will find the cat in the fresco.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Place de la République

7) Place de la République (must see)

Place de la République is located in is located in the very heart of Strasbourg's "German quarter". The square is on the border between the historic city and the new one. It is surrounded on three sides by five buildings only, of which none is residential: the Parliament of Alsace-Lorraine (now the National Theater of Strasbourg), the Palace of the Emperor (now the Palais du Rhin) mixing different architectural styles (Italian Renaissance, Baroque, Classical), the National and University Library, the Préfecture of Grand Est and Bas-Rhin, and the tax center Hôtel des impôts. All of these buildings are classified as "monuments historiques".

Why You Should Visit:
To see one, if not the only, remaining example of fabulous German architecture in the world since all the stunning examples in Germany were destroyed in WWII.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Strasbourg, France

Create Your Own Walk in Strasbourg

Create Your Own Walk in Strasbourg

Creating your own self-guided walk in Strasbourg is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Historical Churches Walking Tour

Historical Churches Walking Tour

Strasbourg is a city with a very rich history - the first signs of human settlement in the vicinity of Strasbourg dates back to 600,000 BC. Here you can find a broad range of historical churches and cathedrals, from ancient to modern, which cover a wide variety of architectural styles. Visiting Strasbourg by foot, be sure to visit some of its best known places of worship listed below.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Strasbourg Introduction Walk

Strasbourg Introduction Walk

Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace Region in France and is referred to as the "crossroads of Europe". The Grande Ile, the city's historic center, was named "the World's Heritage" by UNESCO. You will find culturally historical treasures mixed with modern attractions scattered all around the city. This tour will take you to some of the most significant sites in...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Museums Walking Tour

Museums Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
European Quarter Walking Tour

European Quarter Walking Tour

Strasbourg is considered to be the cradle of Europe. This city is located between France and Germany and has made room for many European institutions. Go and discover sights like the Palace of Europe, the European Parliament, the Arte Headquarters, etc. Take this walking tour to learn more about the city of Strasbourg.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
The German Quarter Walking Tour

The German Quarter Walking Tour

Strasbourg's close proximity to the border of Germany is why German culture has influenced much of the social and cultural life of the city. This walking tour will lead you to some of the most visited sights of the German Quarter of Strasbourg.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles
Famous Squares and Streets Walking Tour

Famous Squares and Streets Walking Tour

Strasbourg holds the reputation for being one of the most beautiful cities in all of France. Visitors of this city should spend some time walking through some of the famous squares in the area to appreciate all Strasbourg has to offer. Check out some of the top tourist sights in the following walking tour:

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles