In 1871, at the conclusion of the France-Prussian War, the German territory of Alsace-Lorraine was created from lands annexed from France. The annexation redefined two cities in the region, Metz and Nancy.
After the division, Nancy remained part of France. The flow of refugees from the new German territories doubled Nancy’s population in three decades. During the years following the war, artistic, academic, financial, and industrial excellence flourished. The era between the Franco-Prussian and the Great War strongly influenced modern day Nancy.
Metz also underwent a Renaissance at the same time. In an attempt to “Germanize” the city, Emperor Wilhelm II decided to create a new district, the Imperial District. The distinctive Germanic architecture of the Imperial District incorporates wide influences including Renaissance, neo-Romanesque and neo-Classical, and Art Nouveau. Particularly notable buildings are the rail station and the central post office.
The Imperial District sits adjacent to Metz’s historic center with its French Gothic grand cathedral and Germanic appearing half-timbered buildings. Adjacent to a branch Moselle River, Metz’s old town is beautifully situated. And like many of the towns in the Alsace and Lorraine, it is the architecture and culture clash between German and French that makes things interesting.