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Mulhouse ( , ; Alsatian: Milhüsa or Milhüse, ; ; i.e. mill houses) is a city and commune in eastern Francemarker, close to the Swissmarker and Germanmarker borders. With a population of 110,514 and 278,206 inhabitants in the metropolitan area in 2006, it is the largest city in the Haut-Rhinmarker department, and the second largest in the Alsacemarker region after Strasbourgmarker. Mulhouse is the principal commune of the 16 making up the Communauté d'agglomération Mulhouse Sud-Alsace (CAMSA), population (2006) 172,684. On 1 January 2010, the CAMSA will be replaced by the Communauté d'agglomération de la région Mulhouse-Alsace (CARMA), with 32 communes and 253,962 inhabitants.

Mulhouse is famous for its museums, especially the Cité de l’Automobilemarker (also known as "Musée national de l’automobile") and the Musée Français du Chemin de Fermarker (also known as "Cité du train"), respectively the largest automobile and railway museums in France. An industrial town nicknamed "the French Manchestermarker", Mulhouse is also the main seat of the Upper Alsace University.


Mulhouse is the chief city of an arrondissement of the Haut-Rhinmarker department, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although the city is by far the most populous in Haut-Rhin, its capital is Colmarmarker.


Legends mention the origin of the town in 58 BC, but the first written records of Mulhouse date from the twelfth century. It was part of the southern Alsatian county of Sundgau in the Holy Roman Empire. From 1354–1515 Mulhouse was part of the Décapole, an association of ten Free Imperial Cities in Alsace. The city joined the Swiss Confederationmarker 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. Inside its Alsatian enclave, it was a free and independent republic 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 and the Otto von Bismarck engineered unification of Germany under Prussian King William I as the new German Kaiser, Mulhouse was annexed to the German Empiremarker as part of the territory of Alsace-Lorrainemarker (1870-1918). 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. Alsace-Lorraine was invaded and reacquired by France after World War I. It was occupied and annexed by Nazi Germany after the Battle of France in 1940, until returned to France at the close of the war in 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 Manchestermarker. In consequence, the town has enduring links with Louisianamarker, from which it imported cotton, and also with the Levant. The town's history also explains why its centre is relatively small.


Two rivers run through Mulhouse, the Dollermarker and the Illmarker, both tributaries of the Rhinemarker.


Medieval Mulhouse consists essentially of a lower and an upper town.
  • The lower town was formerly the quarter of merchants and craftsmen. It developed around the Place de la Réunion (which commemorates its reunion with France). Nowadays this area is pedestrianised.
  • The upper town developed from the eighteenth century on. Previously, several monastic orders were established there, notably the Franciscans, Augustinians, Poor Clares and Knights of Malta.
  • 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 quarter was taken up 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 terrace in the English style, a result of the town's close relationship with Manchestermarker, where the sons of industrialists were often sent to study.

Principal places of interest

Principal economic activities

Already in the mid-19th century, Mulhouse was known as "the industrial capital of Alsace", the "city with a hundred chimneys" (cité aux cent cheminées) and "the French Manchester"


Mulhouse is served by Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg International Airportmarker.

Mulhouse has its own SNCF station with a direct connection to Baselmarker in Switzerlandmarker.

Transport within Mulhouse is provided by a tram network, which opened on 13 May 2006[45049] and was due to be further extended by 2008.


Notable people

Mulhouse was the birth place of:

Mayors of Mulhouse

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Mulhouse is twinned with:

See also


External links

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