River Cruise - Mulhouse


Mulhouse is the chief town of an arrondissement of the Haut-Rhin département, of which it is a sous-préfectures. The first written records of Mulhouse date from the 12th century. It was a member of the Décapole, an association of ten free towns in Alsace allied to the Swiss Confederation, which was a free republic until it was absorbed into France on January 4, 1798, during the French Directory period.

The town's development was stimulated first by the expansion of the textile industry and tanning, and subsequently by chemical and engineering industries from the mid 18th century. In consequence Mulhouse has enduring links with Louisiana, from which it imported cotton, and also with the Levant.

The town's history also explains why its centre is relatively small. Medieval Mulhouse consists essentially of a lower and an upper town. The lower town was formerly the quarter of merchants and craftsmen. It developed around the Place de la Réunion (which commemorates its reunion with France). Nowadays this area is pedestrianised. The upper town developed from the 18th century on. Previously, several monastic orders were established there, notably the Franciscans, Augustinians, Poor Clares and Knights of Malta.

The Nouveau Quartier (New Town) is the best example of urban planning in Mulhouse, and was developed from 1826 on, after the town walls had been removed (as they were in many French towns). It is focused around the Place de la République. Its network of streets and its triangular shape are a good demonstration of the town's desire for a planned layout. The planning was undertaken by the architects G. Stolz and Félix Fries. This quarter was taken up by rich families and the owners of local industries, who tended to be liberal and republican in their opinions. The Rebberg distict consists of grand houses inspired by the colonnaded residences of Louisiana cotton planters. Originally, this was the town's vineyard (the word reb meaning vine). The houses here were built as terraces in the English style, a result of the town's close relationship with Manchester, where the sons of industrialists were often sent to study.

Principal places of interest in Mulhouse include; Hôtel de Ville (16th century)- The town hall was built in 1553 in the Rhenish Renaissance style(Montaigne described it as a "palais magnifique et tout doré" in 1580. It is known for its trompe l'oeil paintings, and its pictures of allegories representing the vices and virtues), Workers' quarter (mid 19th century)-inspired by districts in Manchester, Place de la Bourse and the building of the Société Industrielle de Mulhouse- in the Nouveau Quartier (19th century), Automobile museum (featuring the Schlumpf collection), Railway museum, Museum of Electricity (Electropolis), Museum of fabric printing, Botanical gardens and zoo, and Numerous industrial ruins. Mulhouse is served by Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg International Airport.