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by Wildcat Dianne
August 20, 2011
Turns out the Palais de Rohan has a short history compared to the other places I had visited that day and it was one of royalty and a who's who of who slept there in its 269-year history. Palais de Rohan was built on a former bishop's 13th century home. Around 1730, Cardinal Armand Gaston Maximillian de Rohan commisssioned some new palatial digs from architect Joseph Massol. Under the guise and plans of Robert de Cotte, Palais de Rohan was built between 1731-1742 and soon started having some very royal guests sleeping there on the way to and from other parts of France or Europe. In 1744, King Louis XV slept here. But one of Palais de Rohan's most famous guest was the infamous Marie Antoinette, who stayed here for a night or two in 1770 on the way to tying the knot with Louis XVI and that unfortunate date with Madamoiselle Guillotine twenty-three years later. On three separate occasions in 1805, 1806, and 1809, Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife Josephine stayed at Palais de Rohan, and Napoleon even ordered some of the palace's rooms to be remodeled to accommodate the tastes of his wife. Now when I stay in a hotel, I ask for extra towels or pillows, but not have an entire room remodeled! In 1810, Napoleon's second wife Marie Louise of Parma stayed in Palais Rohan on her first night on French soil.
Palais de Rohan has suffered from fires and war with the worst damage happening after the Prussians bombed the palace on August 24, 1870 destroying most of the art collection that had been housed there. In 1944, the Americans and British air forces bombed Palais de Rohan during the fight with Nazi Germany to liberate Eastern France. After all of the destruction, Palais de Rohan was reconstructed and the reconstruction was finished in the 1990's, and now Palais de Rohan is now a famous art museum and the seat of imperial museums in Strasbourg. It was also declared a Monument Historique (Historical Monument) by the French Ministry of Culture.
After hearing all about the glamorous history of Palais de Rohan, I wish I had visited the museum inside. But I learned a lot about the place and got a feel for it while touring the gorgeous Baroque exteriors. I wanted to name this journal entry Marie Antoinette Slept Here Along With All Other Members of The French Royal Family, but we are only allowed to use ten words in our titles. Oh well! Go and see Palais de Rohan for yourself if you are ever in the Strasbourg, France area and have a cappucino at the little outdoor cafe Terrasse de Rohan in the nearby Place de la Marche des Poissons (Fishmarket Square) to complete your day!
From journal Bienvenue au Alsace!
New Delhi, India
June 12, 2009
A fee of €7 per person allows entry to the museums (and to ten other Strasbourg museums). Having bought our tickets, we ascended to the first, the Musée des Beaux-Arts, the Museum of Fine Arts. We moved quickly through the first few rooms, devoted to religious art up to about the 16th century. The painted, carved, or plaster Madonna and Child, Crucifixion, Adoration of the Magi, etc can get repetitive after you’ve seen them in umpteen museums and cathedrals. It’s interesting, though, to see evolving styles.
Our favourite artists began showing up soon after, with the repertoire widening to include secular subjects. Still lifes, landscapes, mythology and portraits, executed by some of Europe’s best: Botticelli, Raphael, Veronese, El Greco, Rubens, Goya, Delacroix, Courbet, Corot and others, ranging from the 14th to the 19th centuries.
My favourites? Raphael’s Portrait of a Young Woman: the velvety sheen of her sleeve is so real! Then there’s a splendid Virgin of the Consolation, her eyes so mesmerising, we stared spellbound for several minutes. And there’s a Corot, of rooftops and chimneys, simple but memorable.
Next was the Musée des Arts Decoratifs, the Museum of the Decorative Arts. Half of this museum consists of the restored Rohan chambers. There are bedrooms, banquet halls, a library, etc, all eye-poppingly opulent. The ceilings are carved polished wood, or ornate gilded stucco. The furnishings are silk and velvet with tassels galore; there are ceramic stoves, Ming vases, Flemish tapestries, murals and glittering chandeliers. One bedroom boasts of a crimson-hung four-poster in which Marie Antoinette once slept. At the entrance to each room are written guides, in multiple languages, explaining the significance of the room and its contents.
The next section of the Musée des Arts Decoratifs celebrates Strasbourg’s decorative arts—such as clocks and mechanical toys. Donated by Strasbourg-born illustrator Tomi Ungerer, the latter’s a delightful collection of toy cars, planes, boats, trains, and little human figures pulling rickshaws, peddling flowers, playing, etc.
And there’s porcelain, the intriguing type manufactured by the Strasbourg family of Hannong. The Hannongs made not just shepherdesses and conventional dinner services, but also utensils in disguise! We saw porcelain geese, cabbages, artichokes, a boar’s head, and lettuce—all realistic, but each a receptacle with a lid. Ingenious, and quirky!
The third of the museums is the Musée Archéologique, the Archaeological Museum. This lies in the basement, and includes exhibits from archaeological excavations across Alsace. We didn’t have much time to visit more than a couple of rooms, but we came across the usual: ceramic urns and pots, bits of jewellery, arrow heads and so on.
Even if, like us, you skip the Musée Archéologique, the Palais Rohan’s still a must-see: the other two museums are superb.
From journal Strasbourg: The Heart of Alsace
March 11, 2009
From journal A Few Days Visiting Alsace Lorraine
by Re Carroll
Abbotsford, British Columbia
March 14, 2005
A main part of the Museum is the Cardinals’ Apartments with entry through the Salle du Synode. This huge entrance hall with its high, gilt edged ceiling and massive paintings really set the scene for the rest of my self guided tour. All the rooms were opulent with gold encrusted ceilings and priceless tapestries from the 1600s. I particularly enjoyed The Bishops’ Sitting Room with its gold and white décor and the busts of eight Roman emperors placed on pedestals around the room; the Emperor’s Bedroom where a panel was carved with Napoleon and Josephine’s initials and the Chapel with the original Corinthian pilasters and paneling still in place.
As well as the apartments, the museum features extensive collections of antique furnishings. The largest was an extensive display of porcelain and ceramics made by Strasbourg’s Hannong factory from 1748 to 1760. There were so many glass cases with sets of dishes that it started to become rather ho hum, although porcelain collectors would be in their glory. I was more interested in the clock room with clocks from 14th to 18th century and another display featuring 20th century mechanical toys – planes, trains, automobiles and everything between.
Of the three museums housed in the Palais Rohan, Decorative Arts is the one that would appeal to the widest age group with toys for the kiddies and lots of history and displays for the adults. Admission is €4 per person and the museum is open daily from 10am until 6pm, except Tuesdays. There are no English pamphlets but if you ask at the entrance, they will lend you an English guide that details some of the main features in each area.
From journal Strasbourg's Dual Citizenship