Freiburg and its partners all over the world
With its 122 000 inhabitants, the university town of Besançon forms the political, economical and cultural centre of the region of Franche-Comté and of the Département Doubs. The partnership between Freiburg and Besançon was established in 1959 as the first of Freiburg's town twinnings. The earliest connections, however, date back to the 15th century: Only ten years after the founding of the University of Freiburg numerous Bisontian professors and students were already teaching and studying in Freiburg.
The origins of Besançon date back to Gallic times, two thousand years ago. Indeed, Julius Caesar described Vesontio as a remarkable city. The Porte Noire, a triumphal arch dedicated to Marcus Aurelius, bears witness to the importance of Besançon as the capital of the Sequaine. From the Middle Ages right up until the 19th century Besançon played a central role as a religious metropolis in Lorraine. As early as the 13th century it bore the title of a "parish", and in 1302 it was granted the status of a Free City of the Holy Roman Empire. Besançon reached the climax of its power under Charles V in the 16th century. Nicolas Perrenot de Granvelle, advisor to Charles V, equipped the city with some magnificent buildings, among them the Palais Granvelle. From 1648 until 1668 Besançon came under Spanish rule. After Louis VIX had captured the city in 1674, it eventually became French with the treaty of Nimwegen in 1678.
Besançon has a rich and diverse cultural life with museums, theatres and lots of music. The Museum of Fine Arts and Archaeology is one of France's oldest museums. The Museum of Resistance and Displacement is concerned with aspects of the more recent history, and the Comtoise Museum of Local History offers a guide to the cultural life of the region.
Besançon has three major stages to host the performing arts: the opera, the Bacchus Theatre and Centre Dramatique de Franche-Comté. The Cirque Plume and the International Music Festival of Besançon and Franche-Comté are annual highlights.
Economy and Tourism
When taking a walk through the old town centre down to the banks of the river Doubs, visitors are reminded of the rich heritage of bygone centuries. The citadel, built by the architect Vauban under Louis XIV high above the city of Besançon, covers an area of 27 acres. Within the walls of the citadel, there are three museums and a zoo.
Besançon is the capital of the French watch-and-clock-making industry, and well-known manufacturers from all over Europe have settled here. The tradition of clock-making has attracted several companies and research centres working in the fields of microtechnology, micromechanics and biomedicine as well as computers and communications. The Parc d'Europe was built to accomodate scientific, research and industrial institutions.
Knowledge and Learning
The productiveness of these high technology branches is enhanced by the presence of various renowned educational and research centres: the University of Franche-Comté with its 23 000 students, the Institute for Process Engineering, the Ecole Normale Supérieure for mechanics and microtechnology (ENSMM) as well as the Institute for Microtechnology. The Centre for Applied Linguistics, which was founded in 1958, develops teaching methods for professional language instruction. Every year 3 000 students are taught 25 different languages here.