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Sélestat

 

Sélestat (name adopted in 1920, before 1871 Schlestadt or Schlettstadt; Alsatian: Schlettstàdt) is a French commune, in the department of Bas-Rhin, in Alsace (Grand Est region).

Chief town of district and canton, seat of the community of communes of Sélestat, it had 19,794 inhabitants at the last census in 2012 (legal population in force on January 1, 2015), which makes it the fifth municipality in the Lower Rhine and the eighth Alsatian municipality in terms of number of inhabitants. Its inhabitants are called the Sélestadiens and Sélestadiennes. The town is located in the Alsace plain, at the foot of the Vosges. It is crossed by the Ill and its territory is largely covered by the wetlands of Grand Ried. It is under the direct influence of the metropolis of Strasbourg, barely thirty kilometers away.

Selestat is mentioned for the first time in the 7th century. Free city of the Holy Empire, member of the Decapolis, Sélestat experienced very rapid development at the end of the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance. It also becomes a hotbed of humanism. It was then the third Alsatian city, with a port on the Ill and a belt of ramparts. She nevertheless suffered from the troubles linked to the Reformation, the Peasants 'War and then the Thirty Years' War, after which she became French.

During the French period, Sélestat was a military town, fortified by Vauban. It was besieged twice by the Coalition during the Napoleonic wars. The ramparts were destroyed in 1874, shortly after the annexation of Alsace-Moselle by Germany. Population growth is only really noticeable after World War II. Having become an industrial center, Sélestat is also a secondary commercial center, thirty kilometers from the metropolis of Strasbourg, seventy kilometers from Mulhouse and around twenty kilometers from Colmar.

Sélestat is the third largest city in Alsace for its rich heritage, behind Strasbourg and Colmar. The city has, for example, two large churches, a medieval urban complex, as well as a very rich collection of Renaissance works kept at the Humanist Library. Sélestat is also endowed with an important natural heritage since the municipal territory is largely included in the regional nature reserve of Illwald. Finally, the town is close to the Alsace wine route and the Haut-Kœnigsbourg castle.

Sélestat has been awarded the City of Art and History label since February 19, 2016.