Results 1-7of 7 Reviews
by Wildcat Dianne
August 23, 2011
When I was growing up in Rhode Island, there was a TV special on PBS that ran for a couple of weeks about the history of French cathedrals called "Cathedral!" It involved live action and animation and there were historians talking about the history of the construction of Notre Dame de Paris and other French Cathedrals in between animated segments of the construction of a Gothic cathedral in the fictional French town of Beaulieu. Several famous British actors such as Derek Jacobi and Brian Blessed provided the voices of some of the characters, and I learned a lot about the history of French Gothic cathedrals. Never did I know I would be seeing several of them during six European adventures from 1985 to the present.
Not even PBS documentaries prepared me for my trip to La Cathedrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg. At 466-feet tall from its highest point, Notre Dame de Strasbourg was from 1647-1874, the tallest church in the world until it was passed by the Nikolaikirche in Hamburg. Today, Notre Dame de Strasbourg is the sixth tallest church in the world.
I arrived in Place de la Cathedrale in Strasbourg in the afternoon. The sheer size of the Cathedral hit me like a line drive. It was back breakingly and breathtakingly beautiful. I don't know if those are actual words, but that was my reaction on first seeing Notre Dame de Strasbourg! I had a dilly of a time trying to get a picture of the whole cathedral with my camera even putting it at the widest angle. I finally resigned myself to taking pictures of the Notre Dame de Strasbourg in piecemeal, but I was happy with the results of my work.
The construction of Notre Dame de Strasbourg was a long one starting in 1015. The original design of the cathedral was in the Romanesque style of architecture and this construction went on from until its completion in the mid-12th Century. In 1176 a fire destroyed Notre Dame de Strasbourg, and construction of a new Romanesque cathedral started soon after the fire. Romanesque construction lasted until 1225 when a new team of architects took over and built the rest of Notre Dame de Strasbourg in the Gothic style of architecture. Lacking electric saws and all of the modern hardware gadgets of today (Home Depot didn't exist and one had to make his own tools), Notre Dame de Strasbourg was not completed until 1439, 424 years after the first foundation was laid.
Notre Dame de Strasbourg saw a period in the 16th century when it was actually a Protestant church after the 1598 Edict of Nantes allowed the Hugenots to practice their religion freely. But after Louis XIV annexed Alsace and Strasbourg to France in 1681, the Edict of Nantes was revoked, and Notre Dame to Strasbourg was once again a Catholic cathedral. During World War II, Notre Dame de Strasbourg was a point of contention between the German occupation forces who had annexed Alsace in 1940 and the French. Hitler wanted Notre Dame de Strasbourg for the German people while the French were willing to fight tooth and nail for their beloved cathedral to remain French and as General LeClerc said he would, "rest the weapons only when our beautiful colors fly again on Strasbourg's cathedral." Inside the cathedral is a plaque honoring the American liberators who helped the French return Notre Dame de Strasbourg and Alsace to French hands.
If Notre Dame de Strasbourg's exterior was mind-blowing to me, the interior was twice as mind-blowing with its gorgeous 13th-15th Century stained glass windows that were kept in Germany during WWII to protect them from Allied bombings. The 1486 red and gold pulpit built by Hans Hammer was gorgeous and a photo I took of it with the stained glass windows in the background is a favorite of mine. The major highlight of mine was seeing the beautiful Astronomical Clock located in the cathedral's South Transept. It reminded me of the Astronomical Clock in Prague that I visited in 2002. The Strasbourg version was built by Christian Herlin starting in 1547 as a Hugenot project. Construction was stopped after the Catholics took over Notre Dame de Strasbourg and did not start again until 1571. This original clock was destroyed in time and the Astronomical Clock that you see today in Notre Dame de Strasbourg was built under the guise of Jean-Baptiste Schwilgue from 1838-1843. Notre Dame de Strasbourg's Astronomical Clock keeps time and dates probably better than my cell phone. HA HA!
I spent over an hour touring Notre Dame de Strasbourg and was lucky not to leave with a stiff neck after all of the neck stretching I had to do to see the beauty of this Gothic masterpiece. It is free to come into Notre Dame de Strasbourg from Monday-Saturday, but sightseeing is not allowed on Sunday when masses are celebrated and on most major holidays. Although I am not devoutly Catholic, seeing La Cathedrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg made me feel more spiritual than I have been. See it for yourself and see if it will make you feel spiritual.
From journal Bienvenue au Alsace!
New Delhi, India
June 12, 2009
Strasbourg’s Cathedrale de Nôtre Dame is the city’s symbol, its huge spire soaring up into the sky, visible from just about everywhere. It’s the centre of the Old Town, the heart of Strasbourg, surrounded by cafés, souvenir-sellers, buskers and awestruck tourists.
And what a history it has. Construction began in 1176, on the site of an earlier basilica that had burnt down. About 50 years later, in 1225, a team from Chartres arrived to work on the cathedral, and they are largely responsible for the distinctively Gothic feel of the church’s architecture. Work on the cathedral continued till 1439, when the 142 mt high spire was finally erected (according to local literature, this remained the "highest edifice in Christendom till the 19th century").
All those centuries of painstaking work is evident in the sheer detail of the cathedral, inside and out. We spent ten minutes just admiring the carefully carved tympani of the three-portal entrance. The portal on the right, with its depiction of the Last Judgment, is especially striking.
Inside, the cathedral stretches in a long nave flanked by one magnificent stained glass window after another. These range from early medieval ones (some of which are currently being restored) to modern ones, so the difference in styles is interesting, but thankfully not jarring. There’s the usual rose window, a particularly intricate one with patterns predominantly in yellow, blue and white radiating out to an even more complex pattern of flowers in red and white.
At the far end of the nave lie the cathedral’s best-known works. On the left is the 15th century Mount of Olives, a sculpted tableau depicting scenes from Christ’s life, especially the Sermon on the Mount, the betrayal at Gethsemane, and the crucifixion. Separated from this by a few feet of stone floor is a very intricately carved baptismal font where the stonework looks almost like lace!
Across the nave, on the right, is the Pillar of Angels, a stone column decorated with life-size statues of Christ, the evangelists and the Angels of the Judgment. Behind this is another huge but very different work of art, the Astronomical Clock. Created by 16th century Swiss clockmakers, this is famous for its parade of mechanical figures. Everyday, half an hour past noon, a little procession of the twelve apostles files past a figure of Christ while other mechanical figures do their own thing.
Entry to the cathedral is free, though you’ll have to pay for extras such as guides, ascending the tower, or illuminating the Mount of Olives or the Pillar of Angels (they’re visible without illumination, but not enough for a good photograph). And yes, do try to visit early: by noon, the crowds are dense (and noisy) enough to warrant an occasional stern "Shhhh!!" over the cathedral’s PA system.
From journal Strasbourg: The Heart of Alsace
Created between 1931 and 1939, Musée de L’œuvre Nôtre Dame is primarily devoted to the works of the Cathedrale de Nôtre Dame next door. The cathedral is (or was) a veritable treasure house of superb religious art, much of which was in danger of falling prey to time. A lot of this art was therefore shifted into the shelter of the museum. The Musée de L’œuvre Nôtre Dame today houses not just art that was originally part of the cathedral, but also religious and semi-religious art from Strasbourg, Alsace and the neighbouring region. Incidentally, although the art you see in the museum was originally part of the cathedral, replicas have been placed in the cathedral at the spot from where the original art was taken. For example, the intricate carvings of part of the portals at the cathedral are replicas—the originals are in the museum.
The museum spreads over three floors of a building dating back to the 14th century. The ground floor consists of galleries of art from the cathedral; Romanesque stained glass and sculpture; medieval and Renaissance porcelain; and a medieval garden on one side. Between this floor and the first is an intermediate landing, with a collection of objects in ivory, gold and silver. The first floor itself has displays of paintings, and restored chambers containing beautifully carved wooden furniture, especially chests and cupboards. The second floor is a mix of stained glass, paintings, tapestries and sculpture from different periods.
Since we were in a hurry, we decided to do as quick a round as we possibly could, but there were some exhibits that were enticing enough to hold our attention. Among these were, on the ground floor, the exquisite life-size statues of the wise and foolish virgins (the originals are on the tympanum of the cathedral), the stunning 12th and 13th century stained glass in the intermediate landing, and the excellent carving on the 17th century cupboards on the top floor.
I also found the garden very intriguing—although it has some old tombstones, a baptismal font and other old pieces of sculpture, the (to me) interesting bit about the garden was the beds of carefully labelled herbs in the middle. Although more common herbs such as thyme, mint and basil were here, I also finally got to have a look at some I’d only heard about, like hyssop. The garden’s also a quiet nook to relax a bit after you’ve done your rounds of the galleries above and around.
Entry to the museum (if you don’t have the museum pass) is €4 per person, and includes a free audio guide.
by Ed Hahn
Hong Kong, China
February 12, 2006
From journal Surprising Strasbourg
, West Virginia
August 24, 2004
Stendhal admired it, and Goethe was inspired by it to launch a romantic movement. Four centuries ago, it was tallest building in Christendom, so many
travelled to see it.
Early morning, we entered without admission, but
there usually is a small fee. Inside, we should have been fined for our loud
exclamations! (Did I mention that we were shocked?) I’ve never seen
such beautiful rose columns! I started walking toward the high altar--this feature was torn out centuries ago in many churches, such as Notre Dame de Paris!--with a
The pulpit and high altar
The pulpit is a work of stone filigree. This photo of it reveals a closer look at
columns supporting the nave.
I admired the organ and choir stall decoration, but soon I was standing before steps to the altar squinting at inlaid arcs of mosaic in dark there when, all of a
sudden, light flooded the scene. Over to the side was a slotted machine for coins, so we inserted 20 cents and lighted it a few times in hopes of
getting a better photo. Still, we were at the base of long stairs.
Around the corner, we found another coin box and took another photo from
the side--a little closer, but at an awkward angle. Our frenzy with capturing this feature was
quickly abandoned when we beheld another fancy.
(Never was there a cathedral such as this!)
The Great Clock
By this time, a few more visitors had come in.
Now, a man was putting coins in yet another box to get the Great Clock to light. Between
the High Altar and the Great Clock, the bookstore was just opening, and the church
employee there seemed undisturbed that he was watching grown children at a carnival. He was
nice to change our large bill and approved of our high spirits. The Gross
Horloge is spectacular, but we didn’t stay for the show, the Parade of the Apostles,
(every day at 12:30), which I hear makes plenty of noise--roosters crowing and
More famous quotes!
The Cathedral and city have been described as having a different idea about democracy,
faith, wealth, and worship. Openness and art, even "aristocracy without faction" may
characterize both. I could add that the most beautiful church I’ve ever visited is also
From journal A Strasbourg Dawn
Riverview, New Brunswick
April 10, 2004
The side aisles of the church, separated from the central nave by massive columns have vaulted ceilings, are both broad and high, large enough to be churches unto themselves. Each aisle contains a number of large Gothic stained-glass windows. As impressive as these are, they are surmounted and surpassed by the Gothic windows of the nave. The whole effect is one of wonderful colour and light. Unlike other churches of this age, you won’t see the choir and altarpieces. They are raised well above the level of the nave and are accessible only by a large stone staircase which is barred to the public.
There are five chapels surrounding the transept, not all of them accessible and a couple of them quite large. Two of the features of the church won’t be fully accessible to everyone. The 16th century astronomical clock, a wonderful and huge mechanism featuring classical figures operates at 12:30 each day. Tickets are sold at the postcard stand until 11:30 in the morning and then from the cashier at the south doorway from 12:00 to 12:20.
The tower is accessible in the summer only. It is one I would have liked to have climbed. When you see the situation of the church in the midst of this beautiful city, you will understand why.
From journal Wandering in Alsace
June 27, 2001
From journal France with a German Accent