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industrial town, Haut-Rhin departement, Alsace region, northeastern France, located in the plain of Alsace between the Vosges and Jura mountains. Situated on the Ill River and on the Rhone au Rhin Canal, it lies 12 miles (19 km) southwest of the Rhine River and 21 miles (34 km) northwest of Basel, Switz. Mulhouse, first mentioned in the 9th century, became a free imperial city in 1308. It entered into defensive alliances with the Swiss in the 16th century. In 1798 it joined the French Republic. It passed to Germany after the Franco-German War (1871) and was reunited to France in 1918. Its most noteworthy ancient building is the 16th-century Hotel de Ville (town hall), covered with mural paintings. A reproduction of the Klapperstein, the evil gossips' stone, hangs on the southwest facade; the original Klapperstein, now in the historical museum, is a stone weighing more than 25 pounds (12 kg), which was hung around the necks of malicious prattlers on fair days, a practice that persisted until 1781. The 19th-century Protestant Church of Saint-Etienne has its original 14th-century stained-glass windows. The restored 13th-century St. John Chapel, built by the Knights of Malta, has notable wall paintings.