The Cathedral is the heart of Strasbourg. This Gothic masterpiece built between 1015 and 1439 of red Vosges sandstone with a single spire 142m high, was the highest building in the world after the Great Pyramid of Egypt until the 19th century.
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Don’t miss the filigree stonework of the Pillar of Angels, the 12th – 14th century stained-glass windows or the astronomical clock and its automatons. Climb up the 332 steps to the viewing platform for a 360° view of the city, the Vosges Mountains and the Black Forest.
At the foot of the Cathedral stands the Palais Rohan built by Cardinal de Rohan-Soubise, Prince-Bishop of Strasbourg. The palace is a remarkable example of regal lifestyle in the 18th century with its facade overlooking the River Ill and its sumptuous apartments : the King’s Bedchamber, library and Bishops’ Hall. Next to the Palais Rohan is the Museum of Œuvre Notre Dame which houses statue masterpieces from the Strasbourg Cathedral and fine examples of 15th and 16th century Rhenish art in an exceptional architectural setting. Its little Gothic garden is a little gem too. After the museum, why not enjoy the shops and ‘winstubs’ in the neighbouring streets and lanes.
A short distance away is the district of Petite France, the most famous part of old Strasbourg, surrounded by two channels of the Ill. Stroll beside its canals past locks and weirs, across the swing-bridge which alternates between pedestrians and boats to the Place Benjamin Zix and Rue du Bain aux Plantes to admire the medieval facades of old houses once occupied by fishermen, boatmen and tanners. The district originally specialised in tanning because of its proximity to the river and the houses have open lofts under the eaves where animal hides were hung to dry. Petite France is one of the oldest parts of Strasbourg and one of the few where a particular trade has left its mark on the buildings.