Metz's History

A three thousand year old city, Metz has a rich heritage and architecture. Discover the great moments and key dates which have shaped the history of the city ! 

The Antiquity

The origins of Metz date back to well before the Gallo-Roman era. The Celtic tribe of the Mediomatricians is said to have settled on the Sainte-Croix hill towards the end of the 3rd century B.C. The Romans transformed and extended the city, known as Divodurum Mediomatricorum at the time. The name of Metz city comes from this same tribe. The Romans built an amphitheatre, aqueducts, thermal baths, temples... and a fortification which protected them from the Huns and the Vandals. Despite all of this, the city was destroyed in 451, probably by the Huns of Attila. 

The Middle Ages

After the death of King Clovis in 511, Metz became the capital of the Austrasian kingdom. The Merovingians were on the throne of Austrasia, in Metz, until the end of the 8th century. The Musée de la Cour d’Or (Golden Court Museum) takes its name from their palace. In the Carolingian era, Metz became ecclesiastical centre and the bishop exerted his mortal and spiritual power here until the 13th century. A bourgeois rebellion freed the city from episcopal power in 1234. Metz became a free, oligarchical republic, under the protectorate of the Holy Roman Empire. 

The royal city

After the death of François Ist, King Henry II of France seized the city at the expense of Charles Quint. The latter tried in vain to win it back. In 1552, Metz became the city of the King of France, and it took charge of an army. Its military and strategic importance was established under the reign of Louis XIV. Under Louis XV, the Military Governor of the Province of the Three Bishoprics, the Field Marshal Duke of Belle Isle, made Metz even more beautiful: he ordered the building of new fortifications according to Vauban's plans, the Opéra-Théâtre, new squares, churches... The Place d'Armes was begun under his direction and completed by his successor, the Maréchal d'Estrées. 

The Imperial City

After the 1870 Franco-German war, Metz, like Strasbourg and Colmar, became a German city. The city changed during these 48 years until the end of the First World War in 1918. It was therefore the capital of a rich industrial province, and grew and modernised. To transport the coal and the metal from the Moselle mines, and to improve the movement of soldiers and travellers, a new train station was built in Metz. Today, it is classed as a Monument Historique (Historic Monument). 

The Current City

Metz was spared from the conflicts which shook Europe during the modern era. The city has preserved a large part of its heritage: around a hundred historic monuments testify to its rich past, from the Roman era to today. Its cultural scene is very dynamic. The Opera-Theatre, the Arsenal auditoriums, Les Trinitaires, the BAM (Boîte à Musique - Music Box) are among its most coveted music and performance venues. The Centre Pompidou-Metz was opened in 2010, a centre of modern and contemporary art exhibitions. In September 2018, a new building came to enrich the architecture of the Amphitheatre District: the Centre des Congrès Robert Schuman. 

View of Metz from the sky