Strasbourg, which means "city of the roads," has been a major trading post since Roman times. This has brought great wealth and cultural variety Goethe studied at the university, and printing press inventor Johannes Gutenberg lived here for 20 years but also unwanted visitors. During the 5th century, Attila the Hun prised the city from the Romans. More recently Strasbourg was ceded to France after the 30 Years War, handed over to Germany in 1871 and returned to its previous rulers after World War I.
After World War II,
But these buildings pale beside the medieval masterpieces in the city's historic center. The most awe-inspiring is the early medieval Cathédrale de Notre Dame. During the Middle Ages the 142 m steeple was Europe's tallest, and it still soars above the surrounding townhouses like a skyscraper. If the weather is foul, take a short stroll to the Palais Rohan, which houses the city's magnificent collection of 15th to 19th century art. But if it's fine, head for the water. Strasbourg is criss-crossed by a network of canals that converge in the picturesque quarter of Petite France. With its half-timbered houses, cobbled streets and geranium-laden balconies, the area has a distinctly German feel.
The legacy of Germany's 50-year rule includes wide boulevards, ornate squares and choucroute, pickled shredded cabbage with chunks of pork and sausages. Another local delicacy is tarte flambée, a thin-crust pizza topped with cream, onions and bacon. Both are often washed down with Alsatian wines, like Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer, though beer is also popular in Kronenbourg's home town.
Over the past decade Strasbourg has been transformed from a provincial French city into a model of urban living. Cars have been virtually banished from the center, traffic circles have been converted into pedestrian squares and road space has been given over to sleek trams. The new Musée d'Art Moderne is typical of this regeneration. The dramatic building, which is dominated by a wall of glass facing the river, is matched by an equally impressive collection of paintings inside: Picassos, Dalís and Kandinskys, plus remarkable collections by local artists Tomi Ungerer and Hans (Jean) Arp. French architect Le Corbusier once said: "Strasbourg is a city that has grown up well." This might not be true of its poorer parts, but few would disagree that the unesco-protected historic center has weathered the storms of time magnificently.