Saturday, August 20, 2011

Metz, France - June 22, 2010

Metz lies on the east bank of the River Moselle in the extreme northeast of France and is, since the middle of the 20th century, the capital city of the much contested Lorraine region of France. In addition to lying on the river, historically Metz also stood on major overland trade routes and became sufficiently wealthy by the middle ages to declare itself an independent republic until it was absorbed into France in 1552.
Being of  commercial importance and lying so close to the border with Germany, Metz has involuntarily flip flopped  across that border more than once in recent history and is in reality two towns - a French flavored area around the cathedral and an overtly Germanic area known as Ville Allemande to the south.
In 1870, as the German nation was coalescing, Metz was ceded to the Germans who vigorously set about the Germanification of the city. Nearly 50 years later, at the end of WWI, the city and the surrounding countryside were returned to the French only to retaken by Hitler and the Nazis early in WWII. It remained in German hands until the liberation in 1945 and given up only after a bitter struggle. It has remained in French hands since.
Metz likes to be known as the Ville Jardin - Garden City - and not without some justification. In addition to its abundant yellow limestone architecture from the use of Jaumont stone, Metz claims to have more than 270 sq ft of open ground per inhabitant, including one of the largest commercial, pedestrian areas in France. The downtown conservation area is also one of the most ambitious in France wherein about 100 buildings have been declared Historic Monuments in an area of about 250 acres.
See additional picture by clicking here.

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