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Art, Entertainment and Culture in Strasbourg’s Grande-Île

Strasbourg’s historic centre, known as the Grande-Île (great island), is an enchanting maze of lanes, picturesque squares and houses with wood carvings. Concentrated in a small area on this river island is an exceptional wealth of art heritage, an enriching blend of French and German essences.

A Cathedral With A 1,000 Years of History

An example of this is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg, the pride of the city. While Strasbourg is located in France, the Cathedral is one of the finest exponents of the German Gothic and the clearest example of the artistic harmony between the two cultures. Situated on the Grande-Île, it is one of Europe’s most beautiful cathedrals. For 200 years it was the world’s tallest building, while currently it is the fourth tallest religious building on earth. Its interior houses an extraordinary, 18-metre-high astronomical clock, built in 1571. It is regarded as the world’s first computer as it is capable of calculating dates, and it marks all calendar holidays. The moment most awaited by tourists is when it peals out the midday chimes, and the figures of the Apostles parade in front of Christ.

The foundations of Strasbourg Cathedral were laid in 1015, and its construction was not completed until 400 years later. This year, 2015, the city’s most important religious building turns one thousand years. A programme of activities has been drawn up to commemorate this anniversary, notably the event “1015 - 2015 : La Cathédrale de toute éternité”, a spectacle of lights projected on the Cathedral’s main facade. This will take place every Thursday from 4 July to 20 September. The times for July are at 10.30 p.m., 11 p.m., 23,30 p.m. and 24 p.m. In August, at 22.15 p.m., 22.45 p.m., 23.15 p.m. and 23.45 p.m. and, in September, at 21.15 p.m., 21.45 p.m. and 22.15 p.m.

FARSe will Fill the Streets of Strasbourg with Scenic Arts

Another enticement for visiting the city in July is the Festival des Arts de la Rue (Street Arts Festival), providing free shows for all audiences in some of Strasbourg’s more central, emblematic areas distributed mainly along the axis between the Austerlitz and Kléber squares.

On Friday 17 and Sunday 19 July, these spots will feature circus, theatre, dance, music and burlesque shows to liven up your visit to the city centre even more. Leading theatre companies, selected under the supervision of and in collaboration with the dancer and choreographer, Ali Salmi, will provide the highlights of these performances.

Of all the shows scheduled for this year, the aerial dance and pyrotechnics of Deus Ex Machina take pride of place. They will be performing on 17 July at 10 p.m. in the Place Kléber, and at the Holi Festival – a festival of colours of Hindu origin – in conjunction with the company Artonik, at the close of the festival on 19 July. You can choose from among the various options shown on the full programme here.

The Place Kléber

One of the nerve centres of the shows is the place Kléber, the city’s main square and a major hub of commercial activity. This, the preferred meeting point of Strasbourgers, is also the centre of the Grande Île, fringed with magnificent Renaissance buildings and located near the Cathedral.

The Maison Kammerzell

North-east of the Cathedral square, on the Rue des Hallebardes, lies the Maison Kammerzell, another must-see, as it is one of the best preserved late-Gothic buildings in the area. It is considered by some to be the most beautiful building in Strasbourg, on account of its decoration of carved figures and stunning leaded windows. Like the Grand Île, it is listed as UNESCO World Heritage.

La Petite France

Also on the Grand Île is La Petite France, the most picturesque district in the historic centre. Its timber-framed houses date from the 16th and 17th century, when they were inhabited by fishermen and millers.

Don’t wait to hear about it from someone else – come and live it out for yourself. Check out our flights here.


Text by Scanner FM

Images by Chris Barker, Spiterman, María Renée Batlle Castillo, Filip Maljković , Richard Penn, Daniel Sancho

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