The Palais Rohan represents not only the high point of local baroque architecture, but has also housed three of the most important museums in the Strasbourg since the end of the 19th century: the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Museum of Fine Arts. The city gallery, Galerie Robert Heitz, is also in a side wing of the palace.

The palace was commissioned by Cardinal Armand Gaston Maximilien de Rohan, Bishop of Strasbourg, from the architect Joseph Massol and erected between 1731 and 1742 according to plans by Robert de Cotte. It was built on the site of the former residence of the Bishop, the so-called Palatium, which had been built from 1262 onwards. In 1744, Louis XV stayed in the palace, and Marie Antoinette stayed there in 1770. In 1805, 1806 and 1809, Napoléon Bonaparte stayed there and had some of the rooms changed to suit his tastes and those of his wife, Joséphine. In 1810, Napoleon's second wife Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma spent her first night on French soil in the palace. Another royal guest was king Charles X of France in 1828. From 1872 until 1898, the palace served as the main building of the imperial German Universität Straßburg, up until the founding and opening of the new 'Kaiser-Wilhelms-Universität'. The art collection of the city (previously kept in the Aubette on the Place Kléber, which had been burned after Prussian artillery fire on August 24, 1870) had been completely destroyed during the Franco-Prussian War. As of 1898 and during the course of the re-establishment of the art collection, the palace became the seat of the imperial museums of Strasbourg. On August 11, 1944, the building was damaged by British and American bombs. The restoration of the premises was completed in the 1990s.

The palace is built on a nearly square base which falls away toward the Ill River and is subdivided around a three-part inner court by a gallery. South of that, there is a main wing for the Prince-Archbishop, with its two representative Classic façades, which extends the entire width of the building. The most extravagant and overwhelming feature, from the viewpoint of the overall impression, is the façade which faces the Ill, with a small flat terrace with wrought-iron railings extending on both sides before it. The courtyard gate to the cathedral is wide and curved and has a roof with religious sculptures.

The chambers of the Prince-Archbishop, which can be viewed today in nearly their original condition, are divided into the grand appartement (display space, facing the river) and petit appartement (living space, facing the inner court), as in the Palace of Versailles. On both sides of the suites are the two most spacious rooms of the palace, the dining hall and the library, which both extend over the entire longitudinal axis of the wing. The library also serves as the nave of the castle's very small chapel.

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Founded: 1731-1742
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in France

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4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Simon Richards (3 years ago)
This grand, elegant building houses three museums - the fine art and archaeology museums are both very interesting, the decorative arts museum less so. Signage at the entrance isn't great - push on the doors and hope for the best!
Simon Drury (3 years ago)
Closing.... Rude people who apparently do not like tourists. Not my problem but they need remedial training.
Bhavana K (3 years ago)
Good museums. Very well maintained.
Derek F Garcia (4 years ago)
One of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Jez Bond (4 years ago)
Really enjoyed this place, great to see how the rich used to live.... and it was free due to some national day in Europe, winning!
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