Sunday 4 December 2011

Strasbourg European Quarter Running Route

Click here for route map
Length: 8.4 km (5.2 miles), terrain flat

Strasbourg running routes:
Strasbourg Old Town run
Strasbourg European Quarter route

For more running routes, see Route List.

Photos courtesy of Flickr CreativeCommons

Strasbourg (Straßburg) is the capital of Alsace, once a German-speaking area, but in the last 100 years, after two bloody wars, has been basically francofied.

But the 20th century conflicts, as bitter as they were, also kindled a cross-border desire to overcome the old rivalries, and create a lasting peace. This determination has evolved into today's European Union (EU).

So what better home than Strasbourg to set up the most important EU institutions? Just north of the old town, in the Wacken neighborhood, you'll find the European Parliament, the European Court of Human Rights, the Council of Europe and other flamboyant European buildings, the French/German Eurocorps army unit, as well as the French/German TV Channel, Arte.

European Quarter, photo by joelkelly
Here's a route that will take you through the imposing new European Quarter and -- along the way -- through a good bit of Strasbourg history. It begins in the old town, passing the market and opera, then out through the Place de la Republique, circled by imposing classical buildings from the kaiser days, then out along canals through the 100-year old new town, looping the modern EU palaces, then returning through parkland and the university quarter on the way back.

Like the other Strasbourg route, this one begins at the Place Homme de Fer, the old town's main tram station. Run south out of the square into the much bigger Place Kleber, where you turn left and run eastwards to the far side of the square.

Place Kleber, photo by frankartculinary
At the beautiful, half-timbered house at the end, run straight into the side street, Rue de l'Outre.

Run a straight ahead for few blocks. Then the street opens into the long, tree-lined Broglie market square.

Keep running northeast through the square, and you'll come to the statue-crowned, red sandstone opera house.

Place Broglie with opera house, photo by pixxiefish
Stay along the left side of the opera and run straight past it and over the bridge, leaving the old town behind you.

You are now entering the circular Place de la Republique. On the other three sides it's lined by monumental buildings: the National Theater, the National Library, the provincial government buildings and the old kaiser's palace on the left side.

Place de la Repbublique, photo by Mister Bing
Turn right just past the bridge and run with the river to your right side and the National Theater on your left. Keep running southeast along Avenue de la Marseillaise, parallel to the tram tracks.

When you come to the next bridge at the River Ill, turn left onto Quai Koch.

Running the one block to the next bridge, you'll see the twin steeples of St. Paul's church ahead.

View of St. Paul's, photo by nudaedalus
Run right towards the front doors of the church, then bear left to run up Quai Zorn, along a quiet, tree-lined canal.

Run along Quai Zorn until it ends at Rue Ohmacht, where you turn right and run till the next street on the left, Rue du General Ducrot. Run down this street until it ends at at the Ill River, on Quai Mullenheim, and you turn left to run north towards the European Quarter. The buildings are already visible down the river.

In one block, you'll pass the glass headquarters of Arte on the left, the French/German cultural TV broadcaster, one of my favorite stations.

Across the river on the right, you'll see wavy facade of the EU Parliament office buildings, while straight ahead the Parliament itself is an impressive circular building looking like a modern colloseum. There is a raised bridge joining the two buildings across the river.

European Parliament, photo by flosch42
Keep running until just where the parliament building begins, at the waterside. You could run straight along the river here and look into the building through the glass facade, but I think it's a lot more interesting to turn left here and run around the back side, where you can appreciate it's colloseum-shape much better.

The path will curve past the main entrance and head towards a bridge over a canal, to the north.

Cross the bridge and turn right, to run next to the tram tracks along the canal, heading southeast. You get a great view of the buildings again here, and you'll see another one coming up on your left: the modernesque European Court of Human Rights. It looks a bit like a couple of huge boiler tanks set out on a lawn.

Court of Human Rights, phto by frankartculinary
When you come to the first cross-street, the Avenue de l'Europe, you'll see a new building, the Agora, across the street, which belongs to the Council of Europe, like many buildings in the neighborhood.

Turn right on Avenue de l'Europe and head southwest. In just 100 meters, you'll see the huge Palace of Europe on the right, the headquarters of the Council of Europe. The council is not part of the EU: it's an older organization, in which many non-EU members participate, not quite fitting into the modern European fabric. I'm not quite sure what the council does, and I doubt that most Europeans know that it exists.

Council of Europe, photo by davenportweb
Across the street is a big park, the Orangerie. Turn left into this beautiful park and run past the orangerie wintergarden, going by a couple of nice ponds and gardens, to come out on the southeast corner of the park after half a kilometer.

Orangerie fountain, photo by Francois Schnell
You are now on Rue Francois-Xavier Richter. Turn right here and run back towards the old town.

After a half-kilometer, you'll come to Avenue de la Foret Noire, (Black Forest Avenue), where you turn right. You are now heading into the university area.

At triangular Place Arnold, you'll see the Botanical Gardens on the left. At the end of the garden, turn left on Rue Goethe, which soon curves to the right and runs northwest past more of the gardens and university buildings.

When the street curves to the left, you'll see the main university building on the left side, where you turn left to run by its main entrance.

University main entrance, photo by faraway3000
Now, turn your back to the building and run straight northwest, over the river, past St. Paul's again and up Avenue de la Liberté back to Place de la Republique.

For the last part of the run, we'll try something different. Run straight across the place to the Palais du Rhin (the ex-kaiser-palace is now used for the river authority), then turn left to run to the Ill River. Then turn right and run along the tree-lined shore as it curves to the left, with the old town across the water.

The Palais du Rhin, photo by Photos de Daniel
Run till you get to the third bridge, at Rue de Sebastopol, where you turn left, cross the bridge, and run straight for the two remaining blocks back to the circular glass donut at Homme de Fer.

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