Mulhouse is famous for its museums, especially the Cité de l'Automobile (also known as the Musée national de l'automobile, 'National Museum of the Automobile') and the Cité du Train (also known as Musée Français du Chemin de Fer, 'French Museum of the Railway'), respectively the largest automobile and railway museums in the world. An industrial town nicknamed "the French Manchester", Mulhouse is also the main seat of the Upper Alsace University, where the secretariat of the European Physical Society is found.
Mulhouse is a commune with a population of 108,312 in 2019. This commune is part of an urban unit also named Mulhouse with 247,065 inhabitants in 2018.
Mulhouse joining Alsace 100th anniversary medal 1898 by Frédéric Vernon, obverse
Reverse of the medal
Forts of Mulhouse 1650
In 58 BC a battle took place west of Mulhouse and opposed the Roman army of Julius Caesar by a coalition of Germans led by Ariovistus. The first written records of the town date from the twelfth century. It was part of the southern Alsatian county of Sundgau in the Holy Roman Empire. From 1354 to 1515, Mulhouse was part of the Décapole, an association of ten Free Imperial Cities in Alsace. The city joined the Swiss Confederation as an associate in 1515 and was therefore not annexed by France in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 like the rest of the Sundgau. An enclave in Alsace, it was a free and independent Calvinist republic, known as Stadtrepublik Mülhausen, associated with the Swiss Confederation until, after a vote by its citizens on 4 January 1798, it became a part of France in the Treaty of Mulhouse signed on 28 January 1798, during the Directory period of the French Revolution.
After the Prussian victory in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), Mulhouse was annexed to the German Empire as part of the territory of Alsace-Lorraine (1871-1918). The city was briefly occupied by French troops on 8 August 1914 at the start of World War I, but they were forced to withdraw two days later in the Battle of Mulhouse. Alsatians who celebrated the appearance of the French army were left to face German reprisals, with several citizens sentenced to death. After World War I ended in 1918, French troops entered Alsace, and Germany ceded the region to France under the Treaty of Versailles. After the Battle of France in 1940, it was occupied by German forces until its return to French control at the end of World War II in May 1945.
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. Mulhouse was for a long time called the French Manchester. Consequently, the town 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 inner city district of merchants and craftsmen. It developed around the Place de la Réunion (which commemorates its reunion with France). Nowadays this area is pedestrianised.
The Nouveau Quartier (New District) is the best example of urban planning in Mulhouse, and was developed from 1826 on, after the town walls had been torn down (as they were in many towns in France). 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 inner city district was occupied by rich families and the owners of local industries, who tended to be liberal and republican in their opinions.
The Rebberg district consists of grand houses inspired by the colonnaded residences of Louisiana cotton planters. Originally, this was the town's vineyard (the word Rebe meaning vine in German). 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.
Mulhouse's climate is temperateoceanic (Köppen: Cfb), but its location further away from the ocean gives the city colder winters with some snow, and often hot and humid summers, in comparison with the rest of France.
Comparison of local Meteorological data with other cities in France
Source 2: Infoclimat.fr (humidity and snowy days, 1961-1990)
The population data in the table and graph below refer to the commune of Mulhouse proper, in its geography at the given years. The commune of Mulhouse absorbed the former commune of Dornach in 1914 and Bourtzwiller in 1947.
Hôtel de Ville (sixteenth century). The town hall was built in 1553 in the RhenishRenaissance style. Montaigne described it as a "palais magnifique et tout doré" ("splendid golden palace") 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 workers' quarters in many other industrial towns.
Place de la Bourse and the building of the Société Industrielle de Mulhouse, in the Nouveau Quartier (19th century)
Transport within Mulhouse is provided by Soléa and comprises a network of buses together with the city's tram network, which opened on 13 May 2006. The tramway now consists of three tram lines and one tram-train line.
Motorway A36 is the main axis connecting the city with the west of the country, to cities such as Dijon, Paris and Lyon. The A35 is the main north-south axis, connecting cities such as Strasbourg and Basel.
Mulhouse is one of the nation's hubs for women's volleyball. ASPTT Mulhouse won multiple titles at the National level. The team plays its home games at the Palais des Sports.