A brief history of the town of Obernai
Obernai is the native town of Saint Odile (Alsace patroness) in the 7th century. Mentioned for the first time in texts dating back from 778, the land depended then upon two abbeys and already had a vineyard. The 11th century saw the construction of a castle in the town and the 12th century was the first period of prosperity, with the construction of numerous buildings, whose traces still mark the town landscape. In the 14th century, it became an imperial city and was then under the direct dependence of the Emperor. In the 17th century, the Thirty’s Year War destroyed the town, which then became a royal city, loosing its very relative political autonomy. Then came a new period of prosperity, before its annexation by Germany in 1871, at the same time as the rest of Alsace, and its reintegration to France in 1919. Visiting the town is a good way to travel through time and history, as the town still has many medieval houses in the town centre surrounded by walls.
What to do and what to see in Obernai?
Former medieval town, full of flowers, Obernai still has numerous lovely old houses, as well as fortified walls. It is very pleasant to visit Obernai and to stroll in the little streets and on the walls, while admiring the colorful half-timbered houses.
While visiting Obernai, you will discover significant historic, religious and architectural sites. You can start on the pretty market square, before going to the Renaissance style Town Hall, the Belfry (Kappellturm), the corn exchange, the formidable Six Bucket Well, the Saint Odile fountain, the former municipal baths, other medieval houses, as well as churches, chapels and synagogues. The town heritage is very rich and will make you travel through time…
There are also in Obernai, a lot of small shops that should appeal to shopping lovers.
Not to be missed: the summit of the Mont National, on the heights of Obernai, where is located the National Memorial of Obernai. This monument was erected in memory of Alsatian soldiers, who were forcefully incorporated into the German army during World War II. It is a place full of history, but it also offers a superb panoramic view over Obernai.
Obernai Christmas Market
From November, the town starts to get prepared for Christmas festivities, with the market, the illuminations and decorations, concerts, exhibitions, story time. Don’t miss Obernai Christmas Market, one of the must-do in Alsace during Christmas season. It’s actually one of my favourites, so if you are in Alsace at the right time, don’t hesitate to take a detour.
- Waking around town, admiring half-timbered houses and browsing the different shops.
- Admiring the view from Mont National
I liked a little less
My best addresses in Obernai
- To buy an excellent kouglof and eat a good artisanal ice cream: Pâtisserie Schaeffer
- For a charming shop of traditional handicraft: Stecostar
- For a nice decoration shop: D’une pièce à l’autre
- To buy beautiful teddy bears (and also some decorative objects): Patio
- For a bakery-tea room with no gluten (it’s worth a try, even if you eat gluten!): L’Eden
- For a restaurant with creative cuisine (for a bit of change from traditional Alsatian food!): L’Osmose
- For a very pretty B&b: La Villa du Coteau
- For a hotel in a beautiful Alsatian building in the heart of the town centre: Hôtel Le Gouverneur
My pictures of Obernai
You will find here the program of guided tours organized by Obernai Tourist Office.
Obernai is located:
- 35 km from Strasbourg (about 35 minutes drive)
- 48 km from Colmar (about 40 minutes drive)
- 89 km from Mulhouse (about 1h drive)
There are several parkings. The “parking des Remparts” and the “parking de l’Altau” are located outside the city walls and are therefore free. It takes only 5 minutes to walk to the center.
By public transport
Please have a look at the website Vialsace to learn how to get to Obernai by public transport.