Place du Général de Gaulle
The Imperial District is an eclectic cornucopia of rich architectural styles from the Belle Epoque where Romanesque art, art deco and German Jugendstil designs live in perfect harmony.
The medieval ramparts in Metz had been destroyed in 1903 and the city was under German annexation at the beginning of the 20th century. On Kaiser Wilhelm II’s instructions, an innovative urban planning scheme was put forward for the Imperial District.
Four reasons were put forward to justify this development:
· Kaiser Wilhelm wanted to create a prestigious, stylish Germanic town n the centre of the classic French style town in order to underline his imperial power and firmly stamp German influence on the city’s inhabitants;
· The military wanted a strategically organised area around an immense railway station;
· The town municipality were willing to create a modern, well-equipped city;
· Architects were given the goal of constructing a stylish, artistic and functioning new town.
The Kaiser created a city within a city as a means of distinguishing it from the medieval and 18th century styles in existence. Public buildings were neo-Romanesque, or Flemish neo-Renaissance. The famous local yellow Jaumont stone was disdained and preference given to pink and grey sandstone, granite and basalt.
The whole area fans out around an enormous railway station built from 1905 to 1908. It is some 300 metres long and constructed on more than 3,000 foundation piles. Grey granite was used to construct this neo-Romanesque edifice that bears a passing resemblance to the Rhineland castles. Statues, sculpted capitals, bas-reliefs and stained glass windows proclaim the high noon of the German empire, whilst remaining a functionally strategic civil and military transport system.
Architects flocked from all over Europe to build private houses, residences and public buildings, the multi-coloured façades adorning the spacious boulevards. Take a stroll down Avenue Foch to admire rich, whimsically varied architectural styles in a harmonious urban blend of worked stone in a green setting.
Metz displays the Imperial District as a direct link to the first German annexation and has submitted a claim for it to be listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Tour of exterior only
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