After driving through several parts of the city, we arrived and started our tour at the Barrage Vauban and took in the view of the canals of the River Ill in this historic part of the city.
This was our view from the Observation Deck of the Barrage Vauban, which is a dam. And let me tell you, the French build beautiful dams! I will show you shortly. But here you see iconic symbols of Strasbourg. The three towers are part of the Ponts Couverts, a defensive fortification from the thirteenth century and in the distance you see the lone spire of the Cathedral, which is called the Notre Dame of Strasbourg.
The telling thing about the Cathedral is that it only has one spire or tower. The Dom in Cologne had two large towers. And we would make sure to stop and see the inside of this historic church while on our tour.
And this part of Strasbourg is also known for its many Half Timbered structures, like the ones on the corner here.
The Ponts Couverts refers to the three bridges between the towers. There are four towers and at one time the bridges were covered bridges.
They were part of the defensive system for the city and built in the thirteenth century.
They cross different channels of the River Ill and have been considered protected monuments since 1928.
It is hard to believe that these were started in 1230 and finished in 1250.
As we came down off the Observation Deck of the Barrage Vauban, we walked along the canal were we had better views. We were told the fourth tower was in the trees behind those houses.
They were very impressive. Defenders of the city would fight from the bridges and towers. The wooden coverings for the bridges were removed in the late 1700’s but they kept their name.
They towers must have proven effective for them to still be standing today.
And parts of the city seemed to grow up around them with little houses tucked in here and there.
This was a house behind one of the towers along the canal. Isn’t that wisteria heavenly? We were in Europe starting on Good Friday and there were flowers blooming everywhere and Easter decorations in every place we visited. We celebrate Easter here in the U.S. prior to Easter Sunday but in Europe they celebrate starting Easter Sunday and the week afterwards.
I liked the little dormers on this building that lined the canal. But it had modern amenities – notice the satellite dish over the wall? And the TV antennas on the roof tops? This was the edge of the historic area so we noticed modern touches here and there.
As we walked along the canal we looked back to see where we had been on the Observation Deck of the Barrage Vauban. Isn’t that one beautiful dam? And if you look below, you can see a few tiny little heads on the roof where the Observation Deck is – that gives you a little perspective on the size of this dam.
The Barrage Vauban was built from 1686-1690 as an additional defensive measure on the River Ill. It was designed to flood the areas below the city so that invading troops could not move forward on the city. It was actually used once during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 and was a success – unless you lived in the area that was flooded!
Today it houses the Observation Deck on top, offering panoramic views of the area and in the corridors inside there are sculptures and other works of art that are part of the Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, which is linked to the northern end.
We asked if you could go inside any of the towers on the Posts Couverts and were happy to find out that in one there were public restrooms. And a wee bit of graffiti on the side. If you have been following along since Amsterdam, you know I like to include graffiti in my photographs!
This was our Viking Tour Guide Claude, explaining a very important fact about the map we were given that day. She explained that it really was not to scale and gave us additional directions on how to get back to where our Viking Tour Bus would pick us up later in the day after we finished our tour of the city. She also gave us the name of the area where our ship would be docked in case we were to get lost. All we would need to do was hail a taxi and give them the name and we would be taken to the dock. And she also told us what the fare should be so that we would have a better idea of what to expect so we would not be taken. I thought that was a great thing to share and it really was, because it came in handy for us later that day.
Behind Claude and all along the canal as we walked we were shaded by these beautiful Red Horsechestnut Trees!
I cannot remember if they were fragrant, so they must not have been.
But they were so beautiful! I have not seen trees like this before. I looked them up when I got home and found that they are ornamental landscape trees, grown just for this!
If you have ever been to see the Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C., this is similar. There was just bloom after bloom after bloom! The only difference was there was also a lot of brilliant green foliage.
But it just goes to show that Mother Nature knows how to put color together better than anyone else. It was a wonderful way to enter the UNESCO World Heritage center of Strasbourg – more to come!
This is not a sponsored post. This is my experience from my trip with Viking River Cruises. Email me to find out how you can save $100 when you book your first cruise with Viking through their referral program.