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Haguenau ( , ; Alsatian: Hàwenau, ; ) is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department, of which it is a sub-prefecture.

It is second in size only to Strasbourgmarker, some to the south. To the north of the town, the Forêt de Haguenau is the largest undivided forest in the country.

Haguenau is a rapidly growing city, its population having increased from 22,644 inhabitants in 1968 to 34,891 inhabitants in 2006. Haguenau's metropolitan area has grown even faster in that period, going from 43,904 inhabitants in 1968 to 64,562 inhabitants in 2006.


Haguenau dates from the beginning of the 12th century, and owes its origin to the erection, by the dukes of Swabia, of a hunting lodge on an island in the Moder River. Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa fortified it and gave it town rights in 1154. On the site of the hunting lodge he founded an imperial palace, in which were preserved the "Crown Jewels of the Holy Roman Empire", i.e. the jewelled imperial crown, scepter, imperial globe, and sword of Charlemagne.

Subsequently Haguenau became the seat of the Landvogt of Hagenau, the imperial advocatus in Lower Alsacemarker. Richard of Cornwall, King of the Romans, made it an imperial city in 1257. In the 14th century, it housed the executive council of the Decapole, a defensive and offensive association of ten Alsatianmarker towns against the surrounding political instability. In the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 was ceded to France, and in 1673 King Louis XIV had the fortifications razed. Haguenau was captured by imperial troops in 1675, but it was taken by the French two years later, nearly being destroyed by fire in the process.

In 1871 Haguenau was annexed by the German Empiremarker, per its victory in the Franco-Prussian War, and made part of Alsace-Lorrainemarker as Hagenau.

It was part of the independent Republic of Alsace Lorraine after World War I, but it was annexed by France shortly after that in 1919.

World War II

The Germans retook the city in 1940 and would hold it until 1945 when through the efforts of the U.S. Army it would be returned to France.

In November 1944 the area surrounding Haguenau was under the control of the 256th Volksgrenadier Division under the command of Brigadier General Gerhard Franz.

On 1 December 1944, the 314th Infantry Regiment of the 79th Division, VX Corps, 7th U.S. Army, moved into the area near Haguenau, and on 7 December the regiment was given the assignment to take the city and the forest (Forêt de Haguenau) just north that included German ammunition dumps. The attack began at 0645, 9 December, and sometime during the night of 10 December and the early morning of 11 December the Germans withdrew under of the cover of darkness leaving the city proper largely under American control.

The 313th Infantry Regiment of the 79th Division was relieved by the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division on 5 February 1945. The 36th Infantry Division would relieve the 101st on 23 February 1945.

Haguenau recently gained notoriety in historian Stephen Ambrose's book Band of Brothers (chapter "The Patrol"), and the HBO miniseries based on it in the episode "The Last Patrol", when Easy Company was stationed there from February 5 to February 23, 1945, during World War II.

The city is the site where Medal of Honor recipient Morris E. Crain (Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company E, 141st Infantry, 36th Infantry Division) earned the medal at the cost of his life to give covering fire for his men on 13 March 1945.


Demographic evolution of Haguenau
1962 1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2006
20 457 22 944 25 147 26 629 27 675 32 206 34 891


The town has a well balanced economy. Centuries of troubled history in the buffer lands between Francemarker and Germanymarker have bequeathed to Haguenau a rich historical and cultural heritage which supports a lively tourist trade. There is also a thriving light manufacturing sector centred on the industrial zone to the west of the town. Here the presence nearby of significant retail developments testifies to Haguenau's importance as a regional commercial centre. The recent extension of the ring road has improved access to the commercial and industrial zones and reduced the traffic congestion which used to be a frequent challenge for vehicle drivers using the road which follows the line of the old city walls on the western side of town.


Historical Museum
Fisher's gate


In spite of the extensive destruction Haguenau suffered during the many wars experienced by Alsace, especially the Thirty Years War, the French conquest in 1677 and World War II, she still keeps monuments from 9 centuries, even if nothing is left of arguably the most prestigious of them, Frederick I Barbarossa's imperial palace (Kaiserpfalz).

Medieval Haguenau retains three gates from its former fortification, the Tour des Chevaliers (Tower of the knights), the Tour des Pêcheurs (Tower of the fishermen) and the Porte de Wissembourg (Wissembourgmarker gate), two fairly large gothic churches, Saint-Georges and Saint-Nicolas, an ancient water-mill and the old custom-house (Ancienne Douane). Both Saint-Georges and Saint-Nicolas Church have lost many of their artistic treasures over the centuries, especially their medieval stained glass windows and outside sculptures. Still, both display to this day some fine liturgical furniture (altars, choir stalls, organ cases, church tabernacles, calvaries...). Saint-Nicolas has become the receptacle for the baroque wooden decoration of the church of the destroyed Neubourg Abbeymarker nearby.

French baroque and classicism has bequeathed the city several buildings, among which the former hospital and the current town hall. The Synagogue (1820) is a fine example of French Neo-classicism, as is the theatre (Théâtre municipal) (1846). The large Hop hall (Halle au houblon) is a good example of historicism in architecture. It was built by the French in 1867 and extended twice by the Germans, in 1881 and 1908.

Haguenau's streets are adorned by attractive fountains, the medieval Saint-Georges fountain, the 18th-century Bee fountain (Fontaine aux abeilles) and the 1825 Dolphin fountain (Fontaine aux dauphins).


  • Musée historique de Haguenau (Historical Museum). The largest museum in Bas-Rhin outside of Strasbourg, it is located in a grand neo-medieval building (1905).
  • Musée alsacien (Alsatian Museum). Located in the former palace of the chancellor (Chancellerie), Haguenau's main Renaissance building.

Higher education

The Institut universitaire de technologie de Haguenau (IUT) was founded in 2006. It is a branch of the University of Strasbourg.

Notable people

Twin towns

Haguenau is twinned with:

See also


External links

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