Strasbourg Stories and Tips

Le Corbusier's Marvel

When travelling in Europe, everyone expects to see old architecture, whether it is Roman ruins, or as 'modern' as the 1800s. In fact, that is one of the joys of travelling.

However, there is modern architecture which stands out and is worth mentioning. Notre-Dame du Haut is one of those. It is located in Ronchamp, about a hundred or so kilometres south of Strasbourg, though closer to Mulhouse, which is to the east. Notre Dame is unlike any church ever built, anywhere, and I am not exaggerating! It is in the shape of an ark, yes, like Noah's, though singularly more distinctive and stylistic. Mainly white concrete, with stained glass, its roof line sweeps up in a highly artistic fashion. Built in the early 1950s, it was designed by the famous Swiss architect Le Corbusier and contains art of both Chagall and Matisse. The windows are deeply indented on what is certainly not a symmetrical church. Though it looks fairly large, it is relatively small inside.

To further enhance the atmosphere is its location - it is situated upon a peak which provides a superb panorama. Church bells set to the side of the church, and a monument to war veterans further add to the site. In one source, the church is described as 'the most atmospheric and interesting of all post-World War II churches.' I certainly concur. I was close to the church the first time I was in the area, and I didn't visit. I kicked myself daily until I had the chance to return. If you are interested in architecture, don't miss it. It might not be your cup of tea, but it certainly is worth seeing!

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