Metz is a city in the northeast of France located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille rivers. Metz is the capital and the prefecture of both the Lorraine region and the Moselle department. Located near the tripoint along the junction of France, Germany, and Luxembourg, the city forms a central place of the European Greater Region and the SaarLorLux euroregion.
Metz has a rich 3,000-year-history, having variously been a Celtic oppidum, an important Gallo-Roman city, the Merovingian capital of the Austrasia kingdom, the birthplace of the Carolingian dynasty, a cradle of the Gregorian chant, and one of the oldest republics in Europe. The city has been steeped in Romance culture, but has been strongly influenced by Germanic culture due to its location and history.
Because of its historical, cultural, and architectural background, Metz has been submitted on the France's UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. The city features noteworthy buildings such as the Gothic Saint-Stephen Cathedral with its largest expanse of stained-glass windows in the world, the Basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains being the oldest church in France, its Imperial Station Palace displaying the apartment of the German Kaiser, or its Opera House, the oldest one working in France. Metz is home to some world-class venues including the Arsenal Concert Hall and the Centre Pompidou-Metz museum.
A basin of urban ecology, Metz gained its nickname of The Green City, as it has extensive open grounds and public gardens. The historic city centre is one of the largest commercial pedestrian areas in France.
A historic garrison town, Metz is the economic heart of the Lorraine region, specialising in information technology and automotive industries. Metz is home to the University of Lorraine and a centre for applied research and development in the materials sector, notably in metallurgy and metallography, the heritage of the Lorraine region's past in the iron and steel industry.
Metz has a recorded history dating back over 3,000 years. Before the conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar in 52 BC, it was the oppidum of the Celtic Mediomatrici tribe. Integrated into the Roman Empire, Metz became quickly one of the principal towns of Gaul with a population of 40,000, until the barbarian depredations and its transfer to the Franks about the end of the 5th century. Between the 6th and 8th centuries, the city was the residence of the Merovingian kings of Austrasia. After the Treaty of Verdun in 843, Metz became the capital of the kingdom of Lotharingia and was ultimately integrated into the Holy Roman Empire, being granted semi-independent status. During the 12th century, Metz rose to the status of Republic and the Republic of Metz ruled until the 15th century. With the signature of the Treaty of Chambord in 1552, Metz was passed to the hands of the Kings of France. Under French rule, Metz was selected as capital of the Three Bishoprics and became a strategic fortified town. With creation of the departments by the Estates-General of 1789, Metz was chosen as capital of the Department of Moselle. After the defeat of France during the Franco-Prussian War and according to the Treaty of Frankfurt of 1871, the city was annexed into the German Empire, being part of the Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine and serving as capital of the German Department of Lorraine. Metz remained German until the end of World War I, when it reverted to France. However, after the Battle of France during the Second World War, the city was annexed once more by the German Third Reich. In 1944, the attack on the city by the U.S. Third Army freed the city from German rule and Metz reverted one more time to France after World War II.
During the 1950s, Metz was chosen to be the capital of the newly created Lorraine region. With the creation of the European Community and the later European Union, the city has become central to the Greater Region and the SaarLorLux Euroregion.