Its exceptional geography confers to Sélestat an economic importance as early as the 8th century when it is probably already a port city of the river Ill which crosses it and which allows it to export wines from Alsace.
It then became a city of empire in 1217 and was equipped with ramparts, its serfs and settlers became free, so it could collect most taxes itself. In 1354, it formed the decapolis of Alsace with the nine other imperial cities of the region: Wissembourg, Haguenau, Rosheim, Obernai, Kaysersberg, Colmar, Turckheim, Munster and Mulhouse. The density of economic exchanges, as well as the prosperity of the city and its institutions, explain the development of humanism, of which the inescapable library remains today.
With the weakening of the Holy Germanic Empire in the 16th century, the authority of the city decreased and it was annexed by the French crown in the 17th century, after the dissolution of the decapolis. This recession lasted until the 20th century and it never regained its former prestige.
Today, Selestat has an extraordinary heritage that allows us to see its immensely rich history.