Neustadt was a vast new extension adjoining the northern part of the old city, designed around public spaces and monumental buildings. The new town, which fitted in perfectly with the old part, marked a turning point in the long urban history of Strasbourg.
It now offers a unique example of late 19th-century town planning in Europe and an exceptional blend of European architectural influences.
The outstanding qualities of the Neustadt development are widely acknowledged and an inventory is being compiled with a view to ensure its future protection and showcase its features.
A 5 km circuit explores the heart of the Neustadt, from the major thoroughfare linking the main monuments between the Palais du Rhin and the Observatory, up to the point where it merges with the old part of the city.
A short urban history of Neustadt
Shortly after the signing of the Treaty of Frankfurt, Strasbourg was made capital of the Reichsland Elsass-Lothringen, under the direct rule of Berlin. A whole series of new buildings were constructed, to reflect the city's new status and to house the region's administrative services. At the same time, the city saw its economy and population undergo rapid development.
While the city had been brought into the modern age and covered a much wider area, it still retained its military importance, which had a significant influence on its urban layout.
- 10 May 1871 : signature of the Treaty of Frankfurt
- 7 April 1873 : Mayor Lauth is removed from office and replaced by imperial administrator Otto Back
- Autumn 1874 : the form of the new fortifications is decided by the Ministry of War
- 1875 : expansion, construction of the new railway station and the University
- 1880 : approval of the final urban extension plan
- 1883 : construction starts on the Palais du Rhin
- 1889 : construction starts on the St Pierre-le-Jeune Church
- 1892 : the pont d’Auvergne bridge is completed
- 1897 : St Paul's Church is completed
Exploring the Neustadt
You can explore the Neustadt using the guide Exploring the districts of Strasbourg: the heart of the Neustadt.
A visit to the area is divided into three sections
The monumental section
The Neustadt was built around a 1,500 metres section linking place de la République (the Kaiserplatz) to the University. The layout highlighted the new power centre of the city and its new status as capital of the Reichsland of Alsace-Lorraine.
City architect Conrath placed the Kaiserplatz facing the University and its imposing garden square, illustrating the balance between the political power of the Emperor and the power of learning.
The monumental avenue separating the two squares was lined with large-scale administrative buildings, as well as the St. Paul Garrison church, which offered a magnificent view over the River Ill and the old city. The Kaiserplatz was built in juxtaposition to the old city, and contained the most important buildings of the new power, including the Palais de l’Empereur and the Parliament.
The old city and its waterways
The development scheme accorded considerable importance to the relationship between the old city and its waterways. It contained two main measures:
- widening the roads leading up to the old ramparts
- the construction of new bridges and walkways over the Fossé du Faux-Rempart.
By the end of the 19th century, the waterways which encircle the city had lost much of their economic and military importance. The new town saw the waterways more as a source of enjoyment and a way of increasing the city's attractiveness. They provided continuity between the two parts of the city and established a dialogue between the two sides.
The city planners organised traffic flows on two separate levels. The top level, which ran along the upper part of the river and canal banks, was established as a main thoroughfare, with views over the most important parts of the Neustadt, while the lower part, next to the water, was an altogether quieter affair offering excellent walks for the local population along wide, tree-lined paths.
The residential part
The new town also contained a large proportion of residential buildings to house the inflow of new inhabitants. To keep up with the city's status as a capital, the architects sought inspiration in other European capitals, such as Berlin, Paris and Brussels and these influences can be clearly seen in the Neustadt residential area.
The residential buildings were very much in keeping with the organisation and architecture of the Neustadt development scheme as a whole, with oriel windows, hipped gables and turrets a regular feature, especially of the larger houses, while pediments enriched a perspective on the buildings which were usually protected from the public gaze by gardens. A number of public buildings were interspersed with the residential houses in the more important streets, thereby offering a changing perspective.