Strasbourg and its impressive cathedral

In 2016, I spent some warm September days in Germany. With Ursula I visited the Palatine, the middle Rhine and the Mosel/Nahe area. On day 15, we went from Bad Bergzabern to Strasbourg, and stopped at the Moulin de Wantzenau near Strasbourg to stay overnight.  I had drafted the blog about our 16th day at Strasbourg without publishing it. I am doing so now.

Today is Thursday, our 16th day traveling. The swooshing of the river Ill made us sleep well under the roof of the Moulin de Wantzenau. This is the view of the Ill from our window.


After a clear night with stars, the sun welcomes us again in the morning.

P&R IS P&R in Strasbourg
Our plan is to visit Strasbourg today. Our hotel is not far from the final tram station of Höhnheim with a huge P&R parking. The parking PLUS the tram tickets for up to six persons costs some 4 Euros. What a bargain! We understood this, after having bought our tram tickets in addition to parking ticket. We may be just too impatient to get to Strasbourg…
Again and again, the bilingual Alsace has been tossed between Germany and France 
Look at the street signs: “Rue de la Hache” translates to “Axtgässel” (yes, la hache = die Axt).
Other examples are “Rue des Echasses/Stelzengass”, “Rue des Juifs/Judegass”, “Quai des Moulins/Müehlstade” (all exact translations) or “Impasse du Tiroir/Münstergässel” (not an exact translation). These bilingual street signs remind us of the fact that the Alsace/Elsass has been tossed between France and Germany in the past centuries. I love to listen to the soft Alsacian dialect that mixes French and Alemannic words and resembles our dialect in Basel.
The Cathedral of Strasbourg is a gem 
Building the cathedral that we see today lasted from the 12th to the mid 15th century or from early to late gothic style (source: Hans Reinhardt, “das Strassburger Münster”, Lescuyer – Lyon and Susanne Tschirner,  “Elsass”, Dumont Kunstreiseführer, Köln 2000).

We approach the cathedral from the north, through the Rue du Dôme. The late gothic northern gate is devoted to Laurentius, a martyr that was burned on an iron grill in the 3rd century.


This is the (older) western portal with the tower (142m high) and with the rosette.


Maria with her son and the passion of Christ is decorating the west gate, as the cathedral is devoted to her.


On the side portal we find the wise and the foolish maidens. These are the foolish maidens that are being seduced by the man on the left… he shows off, but his back is covered with snakes indicating that he cannot be trusted. A very similar seducer is also decorating the cathedral of my home town Basel. Strasbourg served as the model for Basel (and other churches in the area).


Inside the western gate is illuminated by the colours of the rosette with its 16 “leaves” and 12 windows.


Ursula has taken this photo of one of the northern windows (from the 12/13th century)…

… and of the organ (“swallow’s nest organ” made by Silbermann 1716) that hangs in the nave.


I am very impressed by the engineering skills that went into building the astronomical clock. It counts the minutes, hours, week days, months and years (including calculating the correct date of Easter), based on the heliocentric system of Copernicus. In addition various installations illustrate the passing of time (and life) and the life of Christ. E.g. an angel turns a sand watch every hour. Or a cock waves his wings performing his cock-a-doodle-doo, while the apostles walk past Christ one by one. The first astronomical clock was built in the 14th century and broke down in the 16th century. A second clock was then built that broke down in the late 18th century. This second clock was repaired and modernized between 1838 and 1842 (source: Th. Ungerer, “Die astronomische Uhr des Strassburger Münsters”, Societé d’édition de la Basse-Alsace).


The angels’ column from 1225, near the astronomical clock, is a master piece of sculptural art. The 93 year old godfather of my husband Ernst remembered it and asked me later, whether I have noticed this column.


A man stands on the gallery and watches us silently. Or does he not watch us? Legend says that he was one of the governors of Strasbourg who had doubts about the angel column being stable. He was petrified to wait here, until the angel column collapses – which obviously has not happened so far.



The half-timbered houses, especially in La Petite France

Strasbourg is full of romantic corners with half-timbered houses.


The  Maison Kammerzell is not far from the cathedral – the wood carving is from Renaissance times, 1589.


These are houses in La Petite France where the Ill divides up into several channels.


The channels were used for medieval industry. For instance the tanners (in French “tanneurs” and in Alsacian “Gerwer”) lived and worked here.


Nowadays the channels are more used for leisure.


We had lunch in the small restaurant Coccinelle (or “ladybeetle”). I enjoyed my snails.

Full of impressions we take the tram back, pick up our car and enjoy the warm summer evening in the wonderful park of our hotel Moulin de Wantzenau. Ursula discovers this snail on the beans cultivated in the hotel garden.


We think of coming back to Strasbourg by train to visit the museums around the cathedral.


Returning home with a short stop in Hunawihr

On Friday, our 17th day, we return home with a short stop in Hunawihr (source: “L’église fortifiée de Hunawihr”, SAEP edition 1990) the history of which goes back to the 7th century, when Hunon settled here and his charitable wife Huna washed the clothes of the sick. The church that we see today dates from the 14th/15th/16th century, the tower being the oldest part.


Under these vaults, catholic and protestant service are held – this is called “simultaneum”. Hunawihr followed Zwingli in the reformation, as it belonged to Württemberg then, and the catholic belief was restored under French rule by Louis XIV.


Before returning home, I buy some Riesling and Gewürztraminer from Sipp-Mack. Then we say good-bye to the pretty village of Hunawihr.


We have felt like these fish in the fountain for almost three weeks – just great – and we plan to return to the Alsace soon for some one day excursions.


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