Saturday, January 23, 2016

Strasbourg Cathedral and la Petite France

Strasbourg is a city in northeast France, located on the Rhine river. At this point the river serves as the boundary between Germany and France. Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace Lorraine region of France. Strasbourg has been fought over many times and is a center of Franco-German culture.

The central part of the city is called the Grand Ile and is a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Site. Within this area is the Cathedral and la Petite France.

The Cathedral was begun in 1176 AD on the site of a church that burned down. It was completed in 1439. It is a Gothic structure but there are some Romanesque elements. The building and design of the Cathedral were influenced by some master builders from Chartres. Below is a photo of the tower and front of the cathedral seen from a street off the square west of the cathedral. The tower is the 2nd highest of French churches at 442 feet.

 The photo below is of the west facade. As you can see it is very detailed.

The two photos below are of the south side of the cathedral. The flying buttresses really stand out on this building.

The first photo below is of a side aisle and the second is of the nave looking towards the apse.

The stained glass is mostly from the 14th century, but there is some earlier and some as late as the 20th century. During WWII 74 cases of stained glass from this cathedral were sent to a salt mine near Heilbronn, Germany. At the end of the war the glass was returned to Strasbourg by the monuments men. The Cathedral is venerated by both the Germans and the French. Below is a photo of the great west rose window.

There is a square in front of the Cathedral. Many of the buildings are late medieval or renaissance. The photos shown below are of this square.

A short walk west of the cathedral square is an area called la Petite France. This is the section of the old city where the tanners and millers lived. The river Ill splits into four channels that run through la Petite France. Three of them have weirs to allow for water power to be used for milling or other industrial purposes. Most of the buildings in this area are from the 16th or 17th centuries.

In the 13th century at the place where the 4 channels split four towers were built as well as bridges across each of the channels. These were built for defensive purposes; a roof of wood was placed over the bridges and this became known as pons couvert. The roof was removed in 1784 but the name remains. Below is a photo of two of the towers and bridges.

The photos below are of buildings along the channels. Many of them are of half timber construction.

I love the colors of the building in the photo below.

The two photos below show a weir and the buildings along the canal.

Below is a typical street in la Petite France. There are plenty of shops and restaurants in la Petite France. We had a very nice lunch there.

There are many other things to see in Strasbourg. Unfortunately we didn't have time to see more of them.