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The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Before we get to the heart of the matter (the wonders of Alsace), let's open our history books. I'm sure you've heard of the Seven Wonders of the World. Or at least you have heard of them.

As a reminder, the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is a list of remarkable buildings from the Ancient Times. Various authors compiled the list in guidebooks or poems popular with tourists in ancient Greece. It is estimated that the first such lists date from the 2nd and 1st centuries BC.

Les Sept Merveilles du Monde Antique

However, the list in its present form was fixed once and for all during the Renaissance. Of the seven ancient wonders, only one has survived relatively intact: the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

Pyramids of Giza. Photo antonpetrus via Envato Elements

The pyramids of Giza at sunset. Photo: antonpetrus via Envato Elements

The original list has inspired countless versions through the ages, often including seven sites. This prompted me to create my list of the Seven Wonders of Alsace.

The Seven Wonders of Alsace

In compiling this list, the most spectacular monuments in Alsace inspired me. Of course, this is a subjective list - no doubt you will have a different opinion if you were to make your own! Tell me in the comments at the bottom of the article which monuments should be on the list of wonders of Alsace!

▼ Here's a pin for Pinterest! ▼

Wonders of Alsace Pinterest © French Moments


Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg

Place de la cathédrale, Strasbourg

I think everyone will agree with me that Strasbourg Cathedral has its place in the Seven Wonders of Alsace list!

Cathédrale de Strasbourg © French Moments

Strasbourg cathedral: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace © French Moments

This masterpiece of Gothic art amazes visitors, especially its magnificent western façade.

Wonders of Alsace - Strasbourg Cathedral © French Moments

The façade of Strasbourg cathedral © French Moments

La façade de la cathédrale de Strasbourg © French Moments

The rose-window of Strasbourg cathedral: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace © French Moments

The spire (142 m) gave Strasbourg's Notre Dame Cathedral the coveted title of the world's tallest monument.

Flèche de la cathédrale de Strasbourg © French Moments

The spire of Strasbourg cathedral © French Moments

The platform at the height of 66 m is open to the public. From up there, you'll enjoy a panoramic view of the structure of the sanctuary, the roofs of the city and the surrounding area (Alsace plain, Vosges and the Black Forest).

La plateforme publique vue de la tour nord © Paralacre - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The public platform of the cathedral © Paralacre - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Maison Pfister of Colmar

11 rue des Marchands, Colmar

The Rue des Marchands in Old Colmar contains several houses dating from the Renaissance. The most famous of these is the Pfister House. In my humble opinion, it is the most beautiful bourgeois house in Alsace and a masterpiece of the Rhenish Renaissance.

La maison Pfister à Colmar © French Moments

Maison Pfister in Colmar: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace © French Moments

Dating from 1537, it owes its construction to a Besançon hatmaker. Frescoes and medallions adorn the façade of the lavish residence.

La maison Pfister à Colmar © French Moments

The loggia of Maison Pfister in Colmar © French Moments

Thus, the arcaded ground floor is topped by an elegant wooden gallery intersected by a magnificent two-storey loggia at the corner of the street. With its pyramidal roof, the loggia is supported by beautifully crafted brackets.

La maison Pfister à Colmar © French Moments

Maison Pfister in Colmar © French Moments

Mount St. Odile and the Hohenbourg abbey

Natural site 45 km from Strasbourg

Mont Sainte-Odile is undoubtedly the most popular tourist site for the people of Strasbourg, who are eager to see the beautiful Alsatian landscape. It is indeed the closest Vosges summit to the Alsatian capital (the other important summit being the Champ du Feu).

Mont Sainte-Odile © French Moments

Mont Sainte-Odile © French Moments

The summit of Mount Sainte-Odile rises to 767 m. Since the High Middle Ages, it has housed the buildings of a convent: the Hohenbourg Abbey. Legend has it that Odile, daughter of the Duke of Alsace, Etichon (635-690), founded this Alsatian high place.

Mont Sainte-Odile par Mattana (Domaine Public via Wikimedia Commons)

Mont Sainte-Odile: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace. Photo : Mattana (Domaine Public via Wikimedia Commons)

On a clear day, the view extends over the Alsace plain, the spire of Strasbourg cathedral and the Black Forest in Germany.

Merveilles d'Alsace - Mont Sainte-Odile © Gzen92 - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Mont Sainte-Odile © Gzen92 - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Around the summit, the mysterious enclosure of the "Pagan wall" (mur Païen) makes its way for about ten kilometres. The secret of this wall has not yet been revealed. Could it be of prehistoric, Celtic or Germanic origin?

Mur Païen du Mont Sainte Odile © Dietrich Krieger - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Mur Païen, Mont Sainte Odile © Dietrich Krieger - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Castle of Haut-Kœnigsbourg

Medieval castle 30 km from Colmar

Of all the castles in Alsace, Haut-Kœnigsbourg is certainly the most famous. Indeed, the fortress is one of France's most visited tourist sites.

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg © French Moments

Haut-Kœnigsbourg Castle: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace © French Moments

The first mention of the fortress nestled at 750 m above sea level dates from 1147. It was badly damaged during the Thirty Years' War. From 1900 to 1908, it was completely restored by Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg © French Moments

Low-angle photo of the castle © French Moments

From the pink sandstone castle, the view over the Alsace plain, the Vosges and the Black Forest is sublime. It is one of the rare castles in Alsace that is not in ruins!

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg © French Moments

The view to the plain of Alsace from the castle © French Moments

St. Thiébaut Collegiate in Thann

There is an old Alsatian saying:

"The steeple of the cathedral of Strasbourg is the highest, that of Freiburg (in Breisgau) is the biggest, and that of Thann is the most beautiful".

Indeed, the most beautiful monument in the town of Thann can be seen from afar: the magnificent Gothic collegiate church of St. Thiébaut.

La collégiale Saint-Thiébaut de Thann © French Moments

St. Thiébaut Collegiate church in Thann: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace © French Moments

The great western portal has a very high tympanum above two doors, each with a small tympanum.

Le portail occidental de la Collégiale St Thiébaut à Thann © French Moments

The west front of St Thiébaut church in Thann © French Moments

The interior of the church is rich and elegant. The vaults have beautifully carved and painted keys. The deep choir of the church is decorated with statues of apostles. The magnificently carved oak stalls date back to the 19th century. They are made in the same way as those in Metz cathedral. Finally, some of the stained glass windows date from the 15th century.

La nef de la Collégiale St Thiébaut à Thann © French Moments

The nave of St Thiébaut church in Thann © French Moments

Les stalles de la Collégiale St Thiébaut à Thann © French Moments

The stalls of the St Thiébaut collegiate church in Thann © French Moments

St. Etienne Temple in Mulhouse

Don't be fooled by the gothic style of the Temple Saint-Étienne; this Protestant Reformed sanctuary is of relatively recent construction (1859-1866).

Place de la Réunion, Mulhouse © French Moments

Temple Saint-Etienne in Mulhouse: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace © French Moments

For example, there has been a church on the site since the 12th century. As it fell into disrepair, it was demolished in the mid-19th century to make way for a much more imposing building.

Le Temple Saint-Etienne de Mulhouse © French Moments

The façade of Temple Saint-Etienne in Mulhouse © French Moments

The spire of the bell tower reaches 97 metres, making it the highest Protestant church in France. It was the tallest monument in the city until the construction of the Tour de l'Europe (a modern office and residential tower). The elegant spire was inspired by that of the collegiate church in Thann.

Temple Saint-Etienne de Mulhouse © French Moments

The sprire of Temple Saint-Etienne © French Moments

Fleckenstein Castle

Fleckenstein Castle is one of the most impressive castles in Alsace, if not in France. The Fleckenstein fortress clings to the rocky promontory on which it was built in the 12th century of pink Vosges sandstone.

Fleckenstein Châteaux-forts d'Alsace

The ruins of the Fleckenstein castle in the Northern Vosges: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace © French Moments

This castle was the centre of an imperial fief in the 13th century. Its last lord bequeathed it to the prince of Rohan-Soubise.

Fleckenstein © Ambroise1415 - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Fleckenstein © Ambroise1415 - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Fleckenstein © Ji-Elle - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The castle of Fleckenstein © Ji-Elle - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

13 Other Wonders of Alsace

The list of the wonders of Alsace that I have drawn up above is subjective..., and it is far from being exhaustive! The following monuments could well have been part of the list. Tell me in the comments at the bottom of the article which monument(s) you think should be on the Seven Wonders of Alsace list!


Abbey church of Ebersmunster

The interior of the church in Ebersmunster holds a big surprise. It is the only Austrian Baroque building in France!

The abbey church is famous for its magnificent coloured frescoes. It's like being in Austria or Bavaria, the land of joie de vivre!

Find out more on the English blog

► Find out more on the French blog

Abbatiale Ebersmunster © French Moments

Ebersmunster Abbey Church: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace © French Moments

Maison Kammerzell in Strasbourg

The Kammerzell House (15th-16th centuries) is considered to be the oldest building in Strasbourg still in commercial use. The stone-ground floor is in medieval style. The upper floors are in Renaissance style and are made of carved wood. Overall, the facade of the house has 65 crown-glass windows.

► Find out more about the most beautiful Renaissance houses in Alsace
► Find out more about Strasbourg's Place de la Cathédrale [in French]

Place de la Cathédrale de Strasbourg © French Moments

Maison Kammerzell in Strasbourg: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace © French Moments

The European Parliament in Strasbourg

Allée du printemps, Strasbourg

From the river Ill, the Parliament can be seen along a monumental curved glass facade that symbolises the spirit of transparency of European democracy.

On the other side, the building's physiognomy bears a striking resemblance to the ruins of the Colosseum in Rome.

The European Parliament building was named 'Louise-Weiss' in honour of its first president.

► Find out more about the European destiny of Strasbourg

► Find out more about the European District in Strasbourg [in French]

Le Parlement européen à Strasbourg © French Moments

The European Parliament building in Strasbourg: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace © French Moments

St. Georges Church in Sélestat

Place Saint-Georges, Sélestat

A small jewel of Gothic art in Alsace, built between 1220 and 1490, reflecting the power and wealth of the town's burghers.

Impressive 14th-century bell tower, 65 metres high, topped by an octagon decorated with pinnacles.

Inside, beautiful stained glass windows from the Middle Ages.

► Find out more about Sélestat

Find out more on the French blog

église Saint-Georges de Sélestat © French Moments

St. Georges church in Sélestat: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace © French Moments

The Dolder Gate in Riquewihr

Rue du général de Gaulle, Riquewihr

Sublime vestige of the fortifications of Riquewihr. The Dolder town gate is an iconic monument of Alsace with its timber-framed and corbelled floors.

► Find out more about Riquewihr on the English blog

Find out more about Riquewihr on the French blog

Riquewihr © French Moments

The Dolder city-gate in Riquewihr: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace © French Moments

Kaysersberg's Fortified Bridge

109 rue du général de Gaulle, Kaysersberg

With its crenellated parapet and its small oratory, the fortified bridge of Kaysersberg is a unique military work in Alsace.

In the middle of the bridge, on the upstream side, in what was perhaps a former watchtower, is an aedicule (small chapel). It houses a polychrome statue of the Virgin and Child from the 18th century. It includes loopholes on both sides and parapets pierced by archers and gun ports.

► Discover the historical town of Kaysersberg

► Find out more on the French blog

pont fortifié de Kaysersberg

Kaysersberg's fortified bridge: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace © French Moments

St. Martin Collegiate Church of Colmar

Place de la cathédrale, Colmar

The Collegiate Church of St. Martin is the most imposing church in Colmar and is often referred to as the "Cathedral". Built of pink Vosges sandstone, Saint Martin is a significant work of Gothic architecture in Upper Alsace.

► Find out more about the Collegiate Church

Find out more about Colmar on the French blog

La collégiale Saint-Martin de Colmar © French Moments

St. Martin Collegiate church in Colmar: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace © French Moments

Vauban Fortifications in Neuf-Brisach

Commune de Neuf-Brisach

Away from the main tourist routes of Alsace, Neuf-Brisach is worth a visit for its incredible military architecture from the end of the 17th century.

The old fortress has kept its great octagonal enclosure, characteristic of Vauban (1699).

Find out more about the region around Colmar [in French]

Les fortifications de Neuf-Brisach © Psu973 - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Neuf-Brisach's fortifications: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace © Psu973 - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Hohlandsbourg Castle

Château-fort situé dans la commune de Wintzenheim

The Hohlandsbourg is a 13th-century castle which was restored in the 1990s. It is now one of the important historical and cultural sites in Alsace. Open to visitors from Easter to 11 November. Magnificent views of the Colmar region and the Swiss Alps in good weather.

► Find out more about Alsace's most beautiful castles [in English]

► Find out more about Alsace's most beautiful castles [in French]

Prendre de la hauteur en Alsace

Hohlandsbourg Castle: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace © French Moments

Murbach Abbey Church

Commune de Murbach

Murbach Abbey is one of the most photographed sites in the Alsatian Vosges. The impressive Romanesque church, which stands in a pleasant wooded valley, is the last vestige of the powerful abbey of Murbach.

► Find out more about the region around Mulhouse

Murbach © French Moments

Murbach Abbey church: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace © French Moments

Vieil-Armand National Necropolis

Lieu de mémoire à 32 km au nord-ouest de Mulhouse

The Vieil Armand is a place of remembrance that perpetuates the memory of the Great War.

This place (the Hartmannswillerkopf) was the site of one of the most disputed and deadly battles on the Alsace front (30,000 French and German soldiers died there).

The National Monument comprises a vast terrace surmounted by a bronze altar under which is a crypt containing the bones of 12,000 unknown soldiers.

► Find out more about the Route des Crêtes des Vosges [in English]

► Find out more about the Route des Crêtes des Vosges [in French]

La crypte du Viel Armand © French Moments

The entrance to the Vieil Armand's necropolis crypt: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace © French Moments

The former City-Hall of Mulhouse

Place de la Réunion, Mulhouse

It is a magnificent example of the Rhenish Renaissance, with its facades painted with trompe l'oeil decorations.

► Find out more about Mulhouse on the English blog

► Find out more about Mulhouse's Place de la Réunion [in French]

Découvrir Mulhouse : la place de la Réunion © French Moments

The former City-Hall of Mulhouse: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace © French Moments

The Lion and citadel of Belfort

Suppose one considers that Belfort belongs to Alsace's historical and cultural region. In that case, one should not forget to mention the Lion (Bartholdi's monumental statue) and the citadel which dominates the old town and its surroundings.

► Find out more about the Lion of Belfort on the French blog

► Find out more about the Lion of Belfort on the French blog

Lion de Belfort © French Moments

The Lion and citadel of Belfort: one of the 20 wonders of Alsace © French Moments

Which monuments would you like to see on this list? Again, this is a personal ranking; I'm sure you have other ideas... tell me in the comments below 👇

About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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