Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Strolling through the streets of Strasbourg

We have decided to spend another day here in the beautiful city of Strasbourg. There is still so much to see...

The Astronomical Clock is an amazing feat in horological engineering and design. This represents the third clock to be included within the Cathedral. The first astronomical clock was first built between 1352-1354, which stopped working sometime at the beginning of the 16th centuary. Between 1547 and 1574, a second clock was constructed within the Cathedral, which gradually stopped working between 1788-1789. Apparently, as each component of the second clock ceased to operated, these components were disconnected until the clock stopped altogether.

Fifty years had gone by before the third and final clock was built, and housed in the case of the second clock. It was built by Jean-Baptiste Schwilgue, with the aid of thirty workers, from 1838 until 24th June 1843.

This Astronomical Clock has to seen to appreciate its complexities and automata. The accompanying photo illustrates the incorporation of Schwilgue's use of astronomical and calendrical mechanisms. It is believed, this clock was the first to include a perpetual calendar (the large dial a the clock's base) incorporating a Gregorian computus for calculating the date for Easter in the Christian calendar.

Prior to visiting Strasbourg, the closest we had come to experiencing Strasbourg's Astronomical Clock, was to view the "The Strasburg Clock Model", (now located in the Powerhouse Museum Sydney,) built by the brilliant 25-year old Sydney watchmaker, Richard Smith, in 1887. However, to witness the ORIGINAL, one considers the philosophy of a pre-Copernicum Europe whose complexity can only render the Astronomical Clock all the more interesting.

We then head for some of the nearby museums, still armed with the self-guided handsets from the tourist bureau.

Stop 1
- Kammerzell House – one the most beautiful old house in Strasbourg. Belonged to rich merchants (Cheese merchants and grocers). Dates back to 15th Century (ground) and 16th century (upper levels). Decorated with statues of virtues, heroes, signs of the zodiac, five senses and the stages of man.
Stop 2
- Rue Mercier – 15th Century house was one of the oldest pharmacies. Late gothic vaulting. Repository from 1268 to 2000. - 12 BC Roman founded military camp Argenteratum –until 5th century. The Village that remained was called Stratabergum (town of the roots).
- 9th Century – Alsace became part of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nations.
- End 10th Century Episcopal lordship and then an imperial free city from 13th Century. Constitution was written and Strasbourg became an imperial free city. Strasbourg became a Quasi independent republic until 1618 when the 30 years war started under Louis XVVI. Alsace was given to France in 1648. Strasbourg was annexed to France in 1681.
- Cathedral Square – first Thursday in January professional guilds swore their allegiance to the Constitution in front of the Magistrate (government).
Stops 3 - 5 Cathedral (already covered)
Stop 6
- The Palace Rohan - 1732 to 1742 designed by the architect of the Versailles chapel for – the illegitimate son of Louis XIV who was bishop. Many aristocrats sent here. The last of the Rohan archbishops played a significant role in the events leading up to the French Revolution. Place confiscated and used as the City Hall. Cathedral was turned over to the protestants in 1529.
- Start of the 19th Century Napoleon lived here with Empress Josephine and then Marie Antoinette.
Stop 7
- Oeuvre Notre Dame (Museum) – 13th Century. Collector of funds/endowments for the upkeep of the cathedral. Also home to the artisans building the cathedral.
- Medieval garden – paradise garden – 9 small beds present medicinal herbs and fragrant flowers.
- Half timbered houses considered personal property rather than real estate as it can be dismantled and taken with the owner.
Stop 8
- Rue de Maroquin – named for the shoemakers who had their shops on the ground levels of the narrow houses here
Stop 9
- Place de Marche du Cochon du lait (Suckling Pig Market). Oldest house dates back to 1617 on an older ground floor.
- Ravens Bridge over the River Ill.
Stop 10
- Grande Boucherie (Olde Slaughterhouse 1588) with polygonal tower
- The Olde Customs House – 14th century customs point and warehouse for all the boats trading along the River Ill must stop and pay tax on goods. This section of the Ill was a port.
- 1944 it was heavily damaged by US bombs. It has since been restored to its medieval glory.
- Strasbourg rooves contain man dormer windows in the attics to aid in the preservation of foodstuffs in preparation for bad times and wars as the city was a free city.
Stop 11
- Alsacian Museum 1907. Inner courtyard around which the buildings are connected
Stop 12
- St Nicholas Bridge and Church (13 – 14th Century – patron saint of boatman)
Stops 13 - 14
- Quai St Thomas - 18th Century buildings
Stop 15
- 1772 – Old protestant university – now the protestant seminary, headquarters of lutherian and calvanist churches in Strasbourg.
- St Thomas Church foundation is 7th Century although the current building dates only to 12 – 15th centuries and has been Lutherian since 1549.
Stop 16 – 17
- Gothic Nave Choir built in 13th century and home to one of the greatest baroque sculptures in Europe.
- Silverman Organ – played by Mozart in 1788
Due to security (?) surrounding the St Thomas Church, entry was not permitted and consequently, no pics.... sorry folks!
Stop 18
- St Thomas Bridge 1841 – Iron arches.
Stop 19
- La Petite France district
- Washing places – once many in this area.
- Lock was built so that boats could cross the waterfall that turned the mills once sited here.
Stop 20 - La Petite France district
- home to the tanners, millers and fishermen
- Grande Ile was heritage listed in 1988 the first whole city to be so.
- Tanners house dates from 1572.
- Protruding houses – half timber houses were taxed on the ground floor area.
Stop 21 - Pont Couverts (covered bridges)
- Four canals crossed by timber bridges (1200 -1250) with shingled rooves. Rebuilt in 19th century in stone.
- Artillery lodged in the towers.
- Barrage Vauban was created so that the lower city could be flooded in wars
Stop 22
- Modern and Contemporary Art Museum
- Former Headquarters of the Knights of St John Jerusalem (14th Century) National School of Administration now (following a time as a prison)
- Strasbourg was ordered to evacuate in Sept 1939 to southern France (French Government) where it remained deserted until June 1940 when Strasbourg was annexed by Hitler’s army.
- Many Alsacians were forcibly drafted into the German Army (1942 – 1943) and sent to the Russian Front. Nov 23 1944 General le Clere liberated Strasbourg.
- Strasbourg represents the definitive reconciliation between German and French and beyond that to all Europe. It was chosen in 1949 as the seat of the Council of the Europe and today the European Parliament.
Stop 23
- 16 – 17th Century tanner houses.
- Open air waterway used to be here (used as a sewer, it crossed the entire city).
Stop 24
- Grande Rue
- Land was filled in to allow easy access to Agenteratum by the Romans.
Stop 25
- Church of St Pierre le Jeune
- Many interesting houses with balcony topped orieles.
Stop 26
- Rococo style mansion
- Rouget de Lilse – young captain and poet was asked to compose a song to enthuse the army of the Rhine – now known as the Marsiellese.
Stop 27 – Gutenburg Square
- Gutenburg Statue. Born in Mainz he was exiled to Strasbourg (1434 – 1444) Inventor of the printing press with movable letters.
- Formerly the centre of the politic and social life of the City.
- Naisbauex building one of the most beautiful – City Hall in 1781. Now houses the Chambre du Commerce and Industrie des Strasbourg.
- 20 guilds in the City and played an important role in the government.
Stop 28 – Rue Mercier
- Cathedral Rose Window and Spire.

1 comment:

Kamala said...

Love the protruding houses - ingenious to escape additional taxes - man - it would be easy to get lost as they all look alike! For some reason, I always thought Strasbourg was in Germany. What a doofus I am. I want to have a look through that Cathedral myself one day. I love the photo of the sunlight coming through the windows in the hall of flying buttresses and the monk appears tiny as he walks up the hall.