Place de la République (“Republic Square”; former German: Kaiserplatz, “Imperial Square”) is one of the main squares of the city of Strasbourg, France. It is surrounded on three sides by five buildings only, of which none is residential: the Palais du Rhin, the National and University Library, the Théâtre national de Strasbourg, the Préfecture of Grand Est and Bas-Rhin, and the tax centerHôtel des impôts. All of these buildings are classified as monuments historiques. The fourth side of the square is devoid of buildings.
Place de la République is a square (four sides of identical lengths) surrounding a circular public garden crossed by a north-west and a south-east axis. The area was originally occupied by a section of the city walls, which were demolished after the Franco-Prussian War. An ancient Jewish cemetery was located on grounds near to the river; it is assumed to be the place where the Jews of Strasbourg were burned at the stake in 1349.
Place de la République was designed by architect Jean-Geoffroy Conrath (1824–1892) as the conspicuous and grandiose entrance of the “Neustadt” opposite the ancient Grande Île city center on the other side of the Ill. The layout and construction of the square began in 1880. It was then called Kaiserplatz (“Imperial Square” or “Emperor Square”).Ginkgo biloba trees, which were presented by Emperor Meiji of Japan to his German counterpart (either Wilhelm I or Wilhelm II, depending on the source), were planted in the central garden in the 1880s; those trees still stand today. Conversely, a purple beech and a fern-leaf beech, planted between 1883 and 1887, were felled by a storm in the night of the 19–20 June 2019.
In the very centre of the square stands a War memorial statue by Léon-Ernest Drivier, inaugurated in 1936. It represents a mother holding two dead sons, alluding to the dual nature of Strasbourg’s History between Germany and France. The memorial replaces an equestrian statue of Emperor Wilhelm I, commissioned in 1897, that stood on the square from 1911 until 1918.