Visit of the European Parliament in Strasbourg


Strasbourg shares the title of European capital with Brussels. You can visit the European Parliament in Strasbourg to learn more about European institutions. A good idea for a cultural activity, even if it's raining in Strasbourg.

A blogger and photographer, Thibaut likes to show off his home town of Strasbourg, try out activities around his home and explore the rest of the world, often accompanied by his little girls.

Where is the European Parliament located?

The European Parliament is located in both Brussels and Strasbourg. Parliamentary sessions are held every month in Strasbourg, during which the parliament meets in the dedicated building. At these times, Strasbourg is in turmoil. The best tables are booked, a strange ballet of big black sedans with Belgian plates rolls through the streets and it’s hard to find accommodation!

Where is the European Parliament?

In Strasbourg, it is located in the European district, near the Parc de l’Orangerie and the Wacken and Robertsau districts, in the north of the city. Several European institutions are located in the European district of Strasbourg: the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the European Pharmacopoeia and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The headquarters of the French-German television channel Arte is also located here.

Strasbourg, seat of the European Parliament since 1958

Strasbourg has been the seat of the European Parliament since 1958. That year, the MEPs held their first session in March in the House of Europe, a temporary building constructed in Wacken for the Council of Europe. The two institutions will then cohabit in the Palais de l’Europe inaugurated in 1977 by President Giscard d’Estaing. In view of the important development of the European Union, the Parliament quickly found itself cramped and the need to have its own building became obvious. On December 14, 1999, the European Parliament in Strasbourg inaugurated its new hemicycle, which welcomes MEPs during plenary sessions one week a month.

How to visit the European Parliament in Strasbourg?

Majestic on the banks of the Ill with its soft and curved lines, the tower of the European Parliament does not leave indifferent neither the Strasbourgeois nor the tourists of passage. A visit to this heart of European democracy becomes a must. The Parliament teams have recently set up a secure route to offer free tours of the building. Admission is free and takes place in the afternoon. Don’t forget to bring your ID!

  • The architecture of the buildings of the European institutions
  • The possibility to attend the plenary sessions of the European Parliament in the hemicycle
  • The interactive and playful side of the Parlamentarium
  • The necessary but very restrictive security for the visit
  • Limited visit slots for individuals
  • Access to the role-playing game reserved for groups

The Parlamentarium to discover Europe while having fun

The tour begins with the Parlamentarium Simone Veil, an interactive and playful space to discover Europe and its institutions. Touch screens allow citizens to find the MEPs of their country or to understand the functioning of the European institutional triangle in a very educational way. A movie theater offers a 360° film on European issues in the 24 official languages. Finally, an exhibition traces the career of Simone Veil, the first elected president of the European Parliament and the first woman to hold this position. Don’t forget to take your souvenir photo in the photo booth!

Bonus: if you are a group of at least 16 people, you may be able to take part in a role-playing game in which you put yourself in the shoes of an MEP. Committee work, press briefings or even a mini-hemicycle, players are confronted with legislative work in a very playful way.

The visit of the hemicycle

Now let’s leave the Parlamentarium and take the escalators. The circuit is perfectly marked to avoid visitors getting lost in this huge building. Once at the top, you take off your video guide and your headphones to discover the hemicycle. From the corridor, the view of the 751 seats of the MPs is impressive. The European flag is proudly positioned in the center, surrounded by the flags of the 28 member states. The visit is perfectly complemented by commentaries and videos that you can watch at your own pace and in the language of your choice.

Take a look at the ceiling and observe these funny waves. It is an ingenious lighting system that allows, beyond its aesthetics, to properly illuminate each member regardless of his place in the chamber. The acoustics have also been perfectly designed to make the parliamentary sessions practicable. On your way down, you can return to the Parlamentarium or go to the visitors’ cafeteria.

Further ideas for visits: Lieu d’Europe

Let’s be honest, it’s not always easy to remember the role of the European institutions or to explain them to children. The history of the European Union, its great figures, its main achievements, its member countries… All this information has been summarized in a permanent exhibition, installed at the Lieu d’Europe in Strasbourg.

This former 18th century country house, called the Villa Kaysersguet, belonged to several notables from Strasbourg. Located in the heart of the European district of Strasbourg, it was transformed in 2013 to welcome the public free of charge and to organize events around European issues. It is a good starting point to refresh your knowledge before visiting the European Parliament or to discover the amazing architecture of the Council of Europe or the European Court of Human Rights, the latter two not being open to individual visits.