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University and Palais universitaire

A central part of the Strasbourg’s new university in 1871

The role of the new university built in 1872 was not simply to link up with the city’s first university, which was built in 1567, but also to durably extend German influence in the regions that had recently come under the Reich of the Hohenzollern.

After Alsace-Lorraine became part of the German Empire, one of the government’s priorities was to create an Imperial University in Strasbourg, which would engage with the city’s prestigious institutions, which dated back to the Renaissance, while reinforcing the image of the Reich among the new German subjects. Architect Hermann Eggert, drew up the initial plans for the University in 1876. The Kollegiengebäude, the main building, was designed to stand at one end of Kaiser-Wilhelm-Strasse, leading down to the Imperial Palace to form a via triumphalis. This positioning of Knowledge and Power along the same axis underlined the importance accorded to spiritual values.

The main building was primarily for the teaching of classics and the arts and behind it were to be found the more sober science buildings, with the botanical garden at one end of the campus and the Observatory garden at the other.

Symbol of Knowledge and Power

The University was eventually built by Otto Warth, who drew inspiration for the design of the majestic buildings from the finest features of the Renaissance. The main facade contains no fewer than 33 bays, divided by 3 avant-corps. The figure of Athena, surrounded by allegories of spiritual and natural sciences, crowns the central avant-corps, which also contained the statues of Argentina and Germania, which were removed after 1918. 36 statues line the facade, paying homage to leading figures in science and arts from the Renaissance to the 19th century.

Inside the building, the spirit of antiquity is emphasised by the decor with its paintings of grotesques on the ground floor. The Pompeian-red background in the rear wing was chosen to highlight the museum of plaster casts, brought together by classical scholar Adolf Michaelis.

A bust of Goethe (sc. Ernest Waegener, 1904), stands on the square outside the building, in recognition of the period he spent in Strasbourg studying law.

  • Tram C, E ou F - arrêt Gallia - arrêt Université - arrêt Observatoire
  • Bus 10 ou 30 - arrêt Gallia
  • Palais Universitaire
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9 place de l'Université
67000 Strasbourg