The world through the eyes of a Bong!

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Strasbourg, in the north-eastern Alsace region of France, is known for its meandering canals, cobblestone streets, timbered houses, the historic Grande Île (large island) and the famous gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame. It takes a little less than 4 hours from Zürich to reach this popular tourist destination by bus. So we planned a one-day trip on a February Saturday. The city is small enough to explore on feet.

Flixbus tickets were cheap! We started from Zürich early in the morning and reached Strasbourg before 10 a.m. The bus left us at Etoile Park (Place de l'Étoile Park). It was cold yet sunny and we walked all the way to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame passing by the Saturday morning grocery markets and flea markets bustling with people. It took us around 15 minutes to reach the cathedral.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame

If you are in Strasbourg and plan to visit only one place, this is it. The church was built between 1176 and 1439 with sandstone from the Vosges mountains which gives it the unique pinkish color. It was the tallest building of Medieval Europe.

The walls are heavily decorated with finest sculptures and colored glass windows. The pinnacle of this fabulous art work is the rose window on the western wall which can be seen in one of the pictures.

Kammerzell House or Maison Kammerzell in front of the cathedral is one of the oldest preserved medieval civil building built in the gothic style. This black timbered house was built in the 15th century and is an unique symbol of the German Renaissance.

Palais Rohan

This palace, built next to the cathedral in the 18th century, had been the home of the nobility and monarchs including the great emperor Napoléon Bonaparte. It is now under the municipality and hosts 3 different museums - the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Museum of Fine Arts. We bought tickets to the Museum of Decorative Arts which comprised of the grand chambers of the monarchs and bishops and also had a magnificent display of Alsatian porcelain, gold and silver art. The chambers built in baroque and rococo styles had to be restored after the World War II British and American bombings.

Chinese and Japanese porcelain can be found everywhere as the last prince-bishop of Strasbourg, Louis René de Rohan, was fascinated by the Far East traditions and art.

The king's mirror

Bedroom of Napoleon I

Meeting room of the monarchs

Time stands still in this museum as the external world gets immersed in technology

We had a buffet lunch at restaurant Le Grand Shanghai. The buffet was awesome with lots of options at a very decent price (12.80Euros, February 2018). The quality of the food was excellent and the waiters were smiling and caring. I do not intend to advertise any restaurant in this blog but I am just being honest in my reviews.

Petite France

The western part of Grande Île, where the river Ill splits into canals which flow through the area which was the home of medieval tanners and fishermen, is a part of the UNESCO Word Heritage site and is popularly known as Petite France. A set of 3 bridges and 4 towers, known as the Ponts Couverts, spans the canals where they start. They were built in the 13th century as defensive structures.

Just before the split is another interesting defensive structure, Barrage Vauban, which was built in the 17th century according to the plans of King Vauban. The structure could raise the water level downstream and flood the entire region in the face of an imminent attack.

Ponts Couverts, as seen from the roof of Barrage Vauban

Back to Zürich

We boarded Flixbus at 5pm and reached Zürich safely before 9. Although it was a little hectic for us as we had to travel and walk quite a lot, we did not get tired after experiencing the vivid images straight from the pages of history books on Medieval Europe.

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