Strasbourg-Grande Ile is an island which holds the historic centre of Strasbourg including its Cathedral.

The Grand Ile started out as the Roman camp of Argentoratum, and developed itself into the free city of Strasbourg. It was an important commercial centre in the Middle Ages. Johannes Gutenberg created the first European moveable type printing press here in the late 15th century.

The gothic Cathedral was the principal element of the WHS nomination, both for its artistic and technical value. Construction of the Cathedral of Notre Dame started in the late 12th century. A team coming from Chartres suggested a high gothic design. Pink sandstone from the Vosges was used for the construction. It has one 142m high filigree spire (the second one was never built). The height of this spire was unequalled until the 19th century: it was the world's tallest building from 1647 to 1874. The design of the cathedral became very influential in Germany.

The ensemble on the island Grand Ile also consists of several old churches and a network of (post-)medieval streets. Their names reflect the guild movement, from the tonneliers to the tanners. Black and white timber-framed buildings adorn the streets. Among the medieval buildings are the monumental Ancienne Douane (old custom-house) and the renowned Maison Kammerzell.


Visit April 2010

The imposing structure of the Strasbourg Cathedral can best be admired from afar. Already kilometres before entering the old town by car, the cathedral’s spire dominates the skyline. What a sight this must have been during the Middle Ages, when the area wasn’t as built up as it is now. It has inspired Cologne Cathedral – and indeed they look alike apart from the exterior colour.

This was my second visit to Strasbourg. I had visited it before in 1981 with my parents. I had ‘counted’ that as a WHS visit but always felt a bit bad about this because I had no memories of it at all. Now, over Easter, I stayed in Strasbourg for two nights on a proper visit. I found a town very popular with German tourists. Also, the Asian tour groups know how to find it. There are plenty of restaurants too and it’s all quite touristy.

On Easter morning I started with a walk along the River Ill. There are cheesy boat trips on offer here, like in Amsterdam or Paris. I continued on foot to the bulky St. Thomas Church, dating from 1196. From there a foot path starts into the Petite France neighbourhood. This is the main tourist area with pretty Fachwerk houses and streets named after the guilds.

Then it was on to Palais Rohan. A pretty 18th century palace which houses three museums. Entrance was free today, and I choose the Museum of Beaux Arts. It has numerous paintings by well known Italian and North European painters from the 15-18th centuries. One has to be a real art enthousiast to enjoy this room after room.

Finally I entered the Cathedral. Mass was going on so I couldn't go around much. What attracts the eye immediately are the huge and pretty organ and the various stained glass windows.

Community Reviews

Clyde - September 2012

I have visited this WHS for more than 30 times since I also work there. The highlight of this WHS is surely the tall Cathedral. Every year there is a sound and light show projected on the cathedral facade which is really worthwhile seeing. The Petit France is also a cute part of town. On a sunny day, I would suggest going for a stroll in the Orangerie Park especially in Spring when several White Storks can be seen nesting and roosting.

John Booth - May 2010

As things are a bit spread out in Strasbourg I found a day ticket for the buses and trams invaluable at 3.60 euros. It enabled me to visit the Court of Human Rights, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe buildings in addition to Vauban's barrage and Petite France as well as the cathedal, churches and palaces on the Grand Ile.

Assif Am-David - April 2008

Strasbourg changed hands several times between France and Germany in the course of history and the architecture reflects these current changes: the medieval half-timbered houses are typically Alsatian but certainly more related to such architecture in Germany (like in central and southern Germany) than in France (like in Rouen). Conversely, the Baroque architecture as in Palais Rohan (which houses three museums) is typically French reminiscent of such buildings in Paris. The Musee d'oeuvre de Notre Dame is a must-see, exhibiting beautiful sculptures from the cathedral as well as other medieval art. Apart from Bains de Cluny in Paris, it is probably the best of its kind in all of France. The building itself is beautiful as well.

Ian Cade

I have to admit perhaps my favourite places to visit are these medium sized European cities, and Strasbourg was definitely well worth a weekend break.

The city centre is on an Island (Grande Isle) and its main assets are two fold, hopefully shown in the photo. Firstly rows of half-timbered houses overlooking cobbled streets/ waterways. Secondly the massive Gothic Cathedral. It was regarded by Goethe as the finest Cathedral in Europe, and its main edifice certainly ranks up there with the best. Inside is a fine astronomical clock, which like every other one I have seen is achingly under whelming to watch in motion on the hour.

The area of Petit France is incredibly picturesque, with the canals being lined with black and white houses, mostly filled with restaurants (some are very good!) now but still a great place to amble around.

We spent most of our time wandering around trying to avoid spending our whole budget in bakeries and sweet shops, there are a lot of them here. Also on a culinary note Strasbourg gets high points in my book for being situated in perhaps my favourite wine region, and I really enjoyed the aromatic white wines on offer. If you do visit try to have at least one glass of Alsatian wine, the main varieties to look out for are Guwurtztraminer (my personal favourite), Muscat and Riesling but there are plenty of others to fit your own palette.

I really enjoyed my weekend in Strasbourg and its continuous development is a great testament to how many European cities have evolved, incorporating many artistic styles and practical uses.

Klaus Freisinger

Strasbourg is mostly famous for politics, being both the seat of the Council of Europe and of the European Parliament, but the city's history and culture are at least as noteworthy. Having changed hands between Germany and France several times, Strasbourg still has a distinctly Germanic flavour, and the island-like Old Town has preserved its medieval core to a remarkable degree. Especially the Cathedral, or Münster, is very impressive. The entire Old Town is full of typical half-timbered buildings and is very pleasant to stroll through, especially since you always end up at the river. The Neustadt, or New Town, is located to the north of the Old Town and is characterized by wide avenues, parks, mansions, 19th-century buildings such as the University, and many diplomatic missions, as it is located between the Old Town and the international quarter, with the seats of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament.

Fanny Melian Havela

Excellent Tarte Flambé can be aquired in one tavern/gas station on a motorway from Strasbourg to Karlsruhe.

Oh yes, and the city was nice too.. :-)

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Site Info

Full name: Strasbourg-Grande Ile

Site History


The site has 1 locations.

  • Strasbourg


The site has 43 connections.



  • Astronomical clocks 
  • Famous Bells Cathedral: Sechs Glocken konnten damals erhalten werden, darunter die große, 1427 gegosseneHeiliggeist- oder Totenglocke (auch le bourdon oder le grand bourdon genannt). Sie ist ein Werk von Meister Hans Gremp und wiegt rund 8.500 Kilogramm. (Wiki)
  • Famous tapestries Strasbourg Cathedral
  • Historic Pharmacies Pharmacie du Cerf (the oldest in France)
  • Historical Organs At Saint Thomas Church, "The church is internationally renowned for its historic and musically-significant organs: the 1741 Silbermann organ, played by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1778 and faithfully restored in 1979 by Alfred Kern; the French organist Louis Thiry recorded the Art of fugue by Johann Sebastian Bach on this organ. Another organ is the 1905 organ (installed in 1906) built by Fritz Haerpfer, following a design by Albert Schweitzer."(wiki)
  • Hospitals The medieval hospital was destroyed by fire but its wine cellars survived the fire and are still active.
  • Mausolea Wiki: "the huge, late-Baroque mausoleum of Marshall Maurice de Saxe (1777), created by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle" at Saint Thomas Church
  • Sphinx pillars of Saint-Etienne church
  • Sundial At the masons loge at the cathedral museum, formerly at the cathedral.
  • Sundial Several at the cathedral
  • Theatres Opera du Rhin
  • Unfinished constructions Cathedral (second tower never erected)
  • Universities Pasteur University


  • Damaged in World War II From 1943 the city was bombarded by Allied aircraft. In 1944 Palais Rohan was severely damaged
  • Iconoclasm Cathedral: En 1792, à la suite de la Révolution française, 235 statues sont détruites par les iconoclastes. (Wiki)



  • Inscribed in connection with an anniversary To coincide with the "Bimillenaire" of the foundation of Argentoratum centred on the Grande Ile. Pope Paul visited the city that year. "C'est en décembre 1988, année du bimillenaire, que le vieux Strasbourg est inscrit sur la liste du patrimoine mondial de l'UNESCO sous le nom 'Strasbourg - Grande Ile '"

Human Activity

Individual People

  • Goethe Studied there
  • Hitler was here "Adolf Hitler, who visited it on 28 June 1940, intended to transform the church into a "national sanctuary of the German people"" (wiki)
  • Vauban Barrage Vauban "It was constructed from 1686 to 1700 by the French Engineer Jacques Tarade according to plans by Vauban." (Wiki)

Religion and Belief

  • Cathedrals Strasbourg Cathedral
  • Jewish religion and culture Judegass, where the Jewish ghetto used to exist
  • Marian Shrines Cathedrale Notre-Dame-de-Strasbourg
  • Protestantism Lutheranism left a strong footprint on Strasbourg, and the Cathedral was protestant until 1681. St. Thomas now is the main protestant church.


  • Built in the 15th century The Grande ile is "a unique ensemble of domestic architecture in the Rhine Valley of the 15th and 16th centuries". Construction of the Cathedral lasted from 1176 to 1439 when the spire was completed. (AB)


World Heritage Process