© Frantisek Zvardon

Argentoratum, Roman foundation

The first urban development was a Roman camp called Argentoratum. The streets of this small, fortified area formed the basis of the city's urban structure.

In around 12 BC, an island in the marshy, alluvial area of the Rhine, the Ill and the Bruche was chosen by the Romans as a site for one of the numerous small forts built along the Rhine border to protect their legions from attacks from the rear as they advanced towards the Elbe. The camp was destroyed and rebuilt several times and in the 4th century A.D., a double rampart of stone and brick interspersed with round towers was built to provide more solid protection. Surrounded by the arms of the rivers Ill and Bruche, the fortress, which covered an area of some 19 hectars, provided a foundation for the mediaeval city.

The perimeter and cardo and decumanus thoroughfares of the fortress can still be seen in the layout of the current rue du Dôme and rue des Hallebardes.