The Palais Rohan de Strasbourg was constructed between 1732 and 1742 for Cardinal Armand-Gaston de Rohan-Soubise, Prince-Bishop of Strasbourg, based on designs by Robert de Cotte, Principal Architect to the King.
The Strasbourg episcopal palace is one of the best architectural works of the 18th century in France, with the majestic classical elevations of its façades and lavish interior decorating making it reminiscent of one of the great Parisian palaces.
This stunning home was built, decorated, and furnished in less than 10 years, and it shows that the design is remarkably consistent throughout. The palace first housed the city’s Fine Arts Museum in 1889, then the Archaeological Museum in 1913, and finally the Decorative Arts Museum in 1924.
The magnificent Baroque Palais Rohan is home to three different museums. The famous Musée des Arts Décoratifs is housed in the ground-floor Cardinal apartments and features decorative arts from the 17th to the 19th centuries, including furniture, sculptures, jewelry, and ceramics.
The Musée Archéologique is located underground and showcases important objects discovered in the area dating back to historic times and the Middle Ages. You may find masterpieces by Rubens, Rembrandt, Renoir, and Monet in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, which is located on the second floor.
History of Palais Rohan
The Palais Rohan is a famous building from the 18th century in France. Prince Bishop Armand-Gaston de Rohan-Soubise commissioned the structure to showcase the power of the French crown in a city recently retaken by the French and to celebrate the glorious restoration of Catholicism to what had been a stronghold of the Protestant Reform.
Prior to the assignment of the strong Rohan family to the episcopal see of Strasbourg in 1704, French bishops had been living at Saverne. This appointment presented a chance to construct a palace in Alsace matching the status of the Prince Bishops. The Fronhof, formerly the home of bishops, was selected as the location.
Armand-Gaston de Rohan-Soubise, Landgrave of Basse-Alsace, Chaplain General of France, the first of the family’s four cardinals, and potentially a relative of King Louis XIV, took the initiative to construct the mansion.
Certainly one of the greatest architectural triumphs of 18th-century France, Armand-Gaston’s new edifice reflects the high regard in which he held himself. Robert de Cotte, the king’s architect and a rising star at the time, was chosen for this ambitious endeavor. Under Joseph Massol’s direction, construction began in 1732 and was finished 10 years later.
The architectural design of Palais Rohan
The palace’s design was inspired by the big Parisian homes of the time; instead of a garden, there is a promenade with a terrace overlooking the river.
Located to the north of the structure, opposite the Cathedral, is the grand entrance in the style of a triumphal arch. King’s sculptor Robert Le Lorrain created the majority of the palace’s sculptures, which represented Christian concepts like mercy, generosity, and fairness.
The main section of the building has a more serious appearance, while the riverbank facade has 17 bays arranged around an avant-corps with 4 columns and a pediment with the Cardinal’s coat of arms.
The bottom level of the palace is split between tiny apartments located to the north and enormous ceremonial apartments arranged with their long sides facing the river.
The Assembly room and king’s chamber, both decorated with gilded stucco, are excellent examples of local rococo style. After the king’s visit in 1744, the palace became a must-see for foreign princesses on their way to marrying a French king.
Three museums in Palais Rohan
After the exile of the last Cardinal, Louis-René de Rohan-Guéménée, in 1790, the episcopal house was turned into a city mansion and presented to Napoleon I and then Napoleon III. The palace housed the Musée des Beaux-Arts in 1889 (Museum of Fine Arts) and the Musée archéologique (Archaeological Museum), with the Musée des Arts décoratifs (Museum of Decorative Arts) following in 1918.
The renovation of the Palais Rohan has resulted in the establishment of three world-class museums, taking tourists on a fascinating trip through art, archaeology, and history.
The Archaeological Museum of Strasbourg
The Musée Archéologique de Strasbourg, which was established in the 18th century, houses one of the most extensive archaeological collections in all of France. Since 1896, it has been located in the enormous Palais Rohan basement.
The museum’s collections span from prehistory to the Merovingian era, illuminating the region’s complex history and the many cultures that have passed through the Alsace throughout the centuries. You may find artifacts from as early as the Palaeolithic period all the way up to the Middle Ages, each with its own story to tell.
The Strasbourg Museum of Fine Arts
The Fine Arts Museum of Strasbourg first opened its doors in the left wing of the Palais Rohan in the year 1890. To this day, it serves as a repository for a remarkable array of works of art that testify to the extraordinary artistic wealth of the area and Europe in general.
European art from the 14th all the way to the 19th centuries is represented here. You may look at works of art by famous artists, including Botticelli, Raphael, Rubens, Van Dyck, and Delacroix.
Strasbourg’s Museum of Decorative Arts
Finally, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Strasbourg is a fantastic destination for art and history lovers. The collection features a broad range of artifacts, including porcelain and faience from the workshop of brothers Jean and Paul Hannong, faience from the Niderviller factory, and goldsmithing from the Kirstein and Imlin dynasties of Strasbourg.
Furniture, pottery, clocks, and goldsmiths are only some of the examples of Strasbourg’s diverse and developing decorative arts scene from 1681 to 1870 that are on display.
The museum also features beautifully rebuilt apartments, such as the synod room, the king’s bedroom, the library, and Napoleon I’s bedroom, which may be seen by visitors.
One of the crown jewels of Strasbourg’s architectural and cultural history is the Palais Rohan. You may get a sense of the cultural and artistic depth of this remarkable location by visiting its museums and letting yourself be charmed by the city’s architecture.
The Palais Rohan, situated in the middle of Strasbourg, is an incredible historical and architectural find. The Archaeological Museum, Fine Arts Museum, and Decorative Arts Museum are all located in the palace, which was constructed close to the magnificent Notre-Dame church.