Saturday, October 5, 2019

Strasbourg, France

Our first stop on the Rhine was Kehl, Germany from where we took a bus into Strasbourg, France. Strasbourg is the capital of Alsace, an area that has changed hands several times between France and Germany as the result of the many wars these two countries fought. Since the end of WWII the city has been part of France.
As a symbol of reconciliation after WWII the city became one of three capitals of the European Union along with Brussels and Luxembourg. As the seat of the Council of Europe, sessions of the EU parliament alternate between here and Luxembourg. This is the EU legislative building.
The old part of the city is on an island that was protected by a wall. The bridge with buildings on it is quite unique.
The cobblestone streets are a real step back in time.
One of the towers of the old city wall and more cobblestone streets.
Beautiful homes along the canal.
You get many views of the cathedral spire as you walk through the city. 
The half-timber style of the houses is an example of post and beam construction. The frame of the building is exposed and the spaces between them are filled with plaster, brick or stone. That makes for a very unique and beautiful appearance.  This type of timber construction also made it possible to move your house if necessary.  Each beam was numbered thus making it easy to rebuild.
These homes were once owned by fishermen, tanners and millers. The worst smelling of these were the farthest from the center of the city. 
Homes, shops, cafes and a hotel along the canal. The gate on the water is a lock to the river.
At each stop we had a local tour guide who walked us through the city explaining the history. Each of us had a receiver with an earpiece making it much easier to hear the guide. This meant I could roam around and get photos and still hear the tour guide. 
A statue of Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the movable type printing press who did his first printing here between 1430 and 1440. He is holding a copy of the bible he printed. We have seen a copy of the Gutenberg Bible in the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. 
The reliefs on the base of the statue show the use of the printing press around the world. Top is the printing press being used in Europe and Asia. Bottom left represents the Americas and include Ben Franklin and signers of the Declaration of Independence as well as liberators Lafayette and Simon Bolivar. Bottom right depicts abolitionists and includes Wilberforce bringing freedom to slaves in Africa.  
Very neat two-story carousel in Gutenberg Square.
It was Sunday but many of the shops were open for the tourist. Each shop offered their personal specialty product, like bread, cheese and pretzels. This one lured you in with the smell of wonderful gingerbread. A traditional wedding gift includes a gingerbread heart and the entwined pretzel.  
The high point, literally, is the Cathedral of Our Lady. The cathedral, completed in 1284, has a single spire that at 461 feet high was the tallest building in the world for over five centuries. The Gothic style cathedral replaced a Romanesque church built in 1015 that was destroyed by fire. 
The spire on the cathedral in Cologne is now higher but it was built in the 1880's using more modern equipment. It is very difficult to get a picture of the entire building in the crowded city.
The flying buttresses hold the high wall in place and allow for thinner and more open walls with stained glass windows. Unfortunately, since it was Sunday we could not get inside the building.
The sculptures and ornate walls of the church are more impressive when you realize all the carving was done without modern machines.
 Strasbourg was part of France at the beginning of WWII so it was not carpet bombed like other German towns. That said, there was a lot of damage because allied forces accidentally hit some of the buildings when trying to bomb the transportation center. After the war the city was rebuilt in the old style giving it the ancient look we see today.
The Maison Kammerzell is considered one of the finest examples of  half-timber construction in the Alsace. It is now a cafe.
The stork is the symbol of the city. There nests can be seen around the city but I failed to get a picture.
What a great start to the cruise with a tour of this beautiful city. Europeans seem to build things to last for years rather than tearing down and building new ones every few years.

1 comment:

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Great post! Love the history lessons and the architecture!