For many in Spain, Holy Week means watching religious brotherhoods parade gigantic Mary and Jesus statues through the street for hours on end. For me, it means taking advantage of the long weekend to travel. This year, our first stop was the fairy tale town of Strasbourg, France, a magical little place on the Rhine River just across the border from Germany.
Strasbourg’s proximity to Germany means that there are tons of German influences in the architecture, the food, and even the language. The regional dialect, Alsatian, is a unique mix of French and German, and tends to lean more towards the latter.
One of the most iconic sights in Strasbourg is the Covered Bridges, which date back to the 13th century. The bridges themselves are no longer covered, but the name remains. The best view of the bridges and towers that make up the structure is from the top of the Barrage Vauban, another (actually covered) bridge that you can go on top of for free.
Strasbourg’s most beautiful fairy tale-like houses can be found in the neighborhood known as La Petite France. Located just east of the bridges, this is the kind of place you could get lost in for hours as you wander the picturesque streets.
Strasbourg is quite small and can be seen in just about a day, which is the amount of time we had. However, if you’re going to pay to get into one attraction, make it the cathedral. I know—European churches all start to look the same after a while, but this one is seriously stunning.
Strasbourg’s cathedral is one of the tallest churches in the world, which you can experience for yourself if you climb the 300+ steps to get to the top of the tower. Before we did that, though, we went inside the cathedral itself. I thought we would have to pay to get in, but we didn’t. We may have just gotten lucky by managing to sneak in as they were setting up for Good Friday mass.
After we left the interior of the cathedral, we went around the side and paid a small fee to walk up the steps to the tower. Let me tell you, I didn’t think 300+ steps sounded like that much until we were actually doing it. We ended up being the first people in line that morning, too, which meant the constant pressure of wanting to slow down and/or rest for a while, but also not wanting to hold up the line. So up the seemingly endless narrow stairs we went, only to be rewarded by these spectacular views at the top.
You can even see as far as the Black Forest in Germany in the last picture, which shouldn’t be surprising considering Strasbourg is just 2.5 miles/4 km away from the border, but I was still thinking “Wow, we can see all the way to Germany!!!!”
The one thing we didn’t get to do was visit the European Parliament buildings—Strasbourg is the official seat of the European Parliament, which is free to visit on days that are not public holidays. Which Good Friday is, and that’s the day we were there. We were planning on at least walking by, but it’s a little far from the city center. However, that just allows for a reason to go back!
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