Strasbourg Cathedral
Overview
 
Strasbourg Cathedral or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg is a Roman Catholic cathedral
Cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

 in Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. Although considerable parts of it are still in Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

, it is widely consideredSusan Bernstein: Goethe's Architectonic Bildung and Buildings in Classical Weimar, The Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University
The Johns Hopkins University, commonly referred to as Johns Hopkins, JHU, or simply Hopkins, is a private research university based in Baltimore, Maryland, United States...

 Press
to be among the finest examples of high, or late, Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Strasbourg Cathedral or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg is a Roman Catholic cathedral
Cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

 in Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. Although considerable parts of it are still in Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

, it is widely consideredSusan Bernstein: Goethe's Architectonic Bildung and Buildings in Classical Weimar, The Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University
The Johns Hopkins University, commonly referred to as Johns Hopkins, JHU, or simply Hopkins, is a private research university based in Baltimore, Maryland, United States...

 Press
to be among the finest examples of high, or late, Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

. Erwin von Steinbach
Erwin von Steinbach
Erwin von Steinbach was a German architect, and was a central figure in the construction of Notre-Dame de Strasbourg.-Biography:...

 is credited for major contributions from 1277 to his death in 1318.

At 142 metres (466 feet), it was the world's tallest building from 1647 to 1874, when it was surpassed by St. Nikolai's Church, Hamburg
St. Nikolai, Hamburg
The Gothic Revival Church of St. Nicholas was formerly one of the five Lutheran Hauptkirchen in the city of Hamburg. It is now in ruins, serving as a memorial and an important architectural landmark. When Hamburg residents mention the Nikolaikirche, it is generally to this church that they are...

. Today it is the sixth-tallest church in the world.

Described by Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

 as a "gigantic and delicate marvel", and by Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

 as a "sublimely towering, wide-spreading tree of God", the cathedral is visible far across the plains of Alsace
Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

 and can be seen from as far off as the Vosges Mountains
Vosges mountains
For the department of France of the same name, see Vosges.The Vosges are a range of low mountains in eastern France, near its border with Germany. They extend along the west side of the Rhine valley in a northnortheast direction, mainly from Belfort to Saverne...

 or the Black Forest
Black Forest
The Black Forest is a wooded mountain range in Baden-Württemberg, southwestern Germany. It is bordered by the Rhine valley to the west and south. The highest peak is the Feldberg with an elevation of 1,493 metres ....

 on the other side of the Rhine. Sandstone
Sandstone
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

 from the Vosges
Vosges mountains
For the department of France of the same name, see Vosges.The Vosges are a range of low mountains in eastern France, near its border with Germany. They extend along the west side of the Rhine valley in a northnortheast direction, mainly from Belfort to Saverne...

 used in construction gives the cathedral its characteristic pink hue.

History

Previous buildings on the site

The site of the Strasbourg cathedral was used for several successive religious buildings, starting from the Argentoratum
Argentoratum
Argentoratum or Argentorate was the ancient name of the French city of Strasbourg.The Romans under Nero Claudius Drusus established a military outpost belonging to the Germania Superior Roman province close to a Gaulish village near the banks of the Rhine, at the current location of Strasbourg,...

 period (when a Roman sanctuary
Sanctuary
A sanctuary is any place of safety. They may be categorized into human and non-human .- Religious sanctuary :A religious sanctuary can be a sacred place , or a consecrated area of a church or temple around its tabernacle or altar.- Sanctuary as a sacred place :#Sanctuary as a sacred place:#:In...

 occupied the site) up to the building that is there today.

It is known that a cathedral was erected by the bishop Saint Arbogast of the Strasbourg diocese
Archbishopric of Strasbourg
- External links :* *...

 at the end of the seventh century, on the base of a temple dedicated to the Virgin Mary, but nothing remains of it today. Strasbourg's previous cathedral, of which remains dating back to the to the late 4th century or early 5th century were unearthed in 1948 and 1956, was situated at the site of the current Église Saint-Étienne.
In the eighth century, the first cathedral was replaced by a more important building that would be completed under the reign of Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

. Bishop Remigius von Straßburg (also known as Rémi) wished to be buried in the crypt, according to his will
Will (law)
A will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his/her estate and provides for the transfer of his/her property at death...

 dated 778. It was certainly in this building that the Oaths of Strasbourg
Oaths of Strasbourg
The Oaths of Strasbourg were several historical documents which included mutual pledges of allegiance between Louis the German , ruler of East Francia, and his brother Charles the Bald , ruler of West Francia...

 were pronounced in 842. Excavations carried out recently reveal that this Carolingian
Carolingian
The Carolingian dynasty was a Frankish noble family with origins in the Arnulfing and Pippinid clans of the 7th century AD. The name "Carolingian", Medieval Latin karolingi, an altered form of an unattested Old High German *karling, kerling The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the...

 cathedral had three nave
Nave
In Romanesque and Gothic Christian abbey, cathedral basilica and church architecture, the nave is the central approach to the high altar, the main body of the church. "Nave" was probably suggested by the keel shape of its vaulting...

s and three apse
Apse
In architecture, the apse is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome...

s. A poem described this cathedral decorated with gold and precious stones by the bishop Ratho (also Ratald or Rathold). The basilica caught fire on multiple occasions, in 873, 1002, and 1007.

In 1015, bishop Werner von Habsburg laid the first stone of a new cathedral on the ruins of the Carolingian
Carolingian
The Carolingian dynasty was a Frankish noble family with origins in the Arnulfing and Pippinid clans of the 7th century AD. The name "Carolingian", Medieval Latin karolingi, an altered form of an unattested Old High German *karling, kerling The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the...

 basilica
Basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...

. He then constructed a cathedral in the Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 style of architecture. That cathedral burned to the ground in 1176 because at that time the naves were covered with a wooden framework.

After that disaster, bishop Heinrich von Hasenburg decided to construct a new cathedral, to be more beautiful than that of Basel
Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

, which was just being finished. Construction of the new cathedral began on the foundations of the preceding structure, and did not end until centuries later. Werner's cathedral's crypt
Crypt
In architecture, a crypt is a stone chamber or vault beneath the floor of a burial vault possibly containing sarcophagi, coffins or relics....

, which had not burned, was kept and expanded westwards.

Construction of the cathedral (1176–1439)

The construction began with the quire
Quire (architecture)
Architecturally, the choir is the area of a church or cathedral, usually in the western part of the chancel between the nave and the sanctuary . The choir is occasionally located in the eastern part of the nave...

 and the north transept
Transept
For the periodical go to The Transept.A transept is a transverse section, of any building, which lies across the main body of the building. In Christian churches, a transept is an area set crosswise to the nave in a cruciform building in Romanesque and Gothic Christian church architecture...

 in a Romanesque style, reminiscent of and actually inspired by the Imperial Cathedrals
Imperial Cathedrals
Imperial Cathedral in its original context means a cathedral linked to the german emperors.The Romanesque cathedrals on the Rhine in Mainz, Worms and Speyer are called Imperial Cathedrals....

 in its monumentality and height. But in 1225, a team coming from Chartres
Chartres
Chartres is a commune and capital of the Eure-et-Loir department in northern France. It is located southwest of Paris.-Geography:Chartres is built on the left bank of the Eure River, on a hill crowned by its famous cathedral, the spires of which are a landmark in the surrounding country...

 revolutionized the construction by suggesting a Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 style. The parts of the nave that had already been begun in Romanesque style were torn down and in order to find money to finish the nave, the Chapter
Chapter (religion)
Chapter designates certain corporate ecclesiastical bodies in the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Nordic Lutheran churches....

 resorted to Indulgences in 1253. The money was kept by the Œuvre Notre-Dame, which also hired architects and stone workers. The influence of the Chartres masters was also felt in the sculptures and statues: the "Pillar of Angels" (Pilier des anges), a representation of the Last Judgment
Last Judgment
The Last Judgment, Final Judgment, Day of Judgment, Judgment Day, or The Day of the Lord in Christian theology, is the final and eternal judgment by God of every nation. The concept is found in all the Canonical gospels, particularly the Gospel of Matthew. It will purportedly take place after the...

 on a pillar
Column
A column or pillar in architecture and structural engineering is a vertical structural element that transmits, through compression, the weight of the structure above to other structural elements below. For the purpose of wind or earthquake engineering, columns may be designed to resist lateral forces...

 in the southern transept
Transept
For the periodical go to The Transept.A transept is a transverse section, of any building, which lies across the main body of the building. In Christian churches, a transept is an area set crosswise to the nave in a cruciform building in Romanesque and Gothic Christian church architecture...

, facing the Astronomical clock, owes to their expressive style.

Like the city of Strasbourg, the cathedral connects Münster
Münster
Münster is an independent city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located in the northern part of the state and is considered to be the cultural centre of the Westphalia region. It is also capital of the local government region Münsterland...

-German and French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 cultural influences, while the eastern structures, e.g. the choir and south portal, still have very Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 features, with more emphasis placed on walls than on windows.

Above all, the famous west front, decorated with thousands of figures, is a masterpiece of the Gothic
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 era. The tower is one of the first to rely substantially on craftsmanship, with the final appearance being one with a high degree of linearity captured in stone. While previous façades were certainly drawn prior to construction, Strasbourg has one of the earliest façades whose construction is inconceivable without prior drawing. Strasbourg and Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church in Cologne, Germany. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne and the administration of the Archdiocese of Cologne. It is renowned monument of German Catholicism and Gothic architecture and is a World Heritage Site...

 together represent some of the earliest uses of architectural drawing. The work of Professor Robert O. Bork of the University of Iowa
University of Iowa
The University of Iowa is a public state-supported research university located in Iowa City, Iowa, United States. It is the oldest public university in the state. The university is organized into eleven colleges granting undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees...

 suggests that the design of the Strasbourg facade, while seeming almost random in its complexity, can be constructed using a series of rotated octagons.

The north tower, completed in 1439, was the world's tallest building from 1647 (when the spire of St. Mary's church, Stralsund
St. Mary's church, Stralsund
St. Mary's Church is located in Stralsund, northern Germany.Built some time before 1298, it is architecturally Gothic, and was loosely modelled on St. Mary's Church in Lübeck. Between 1625 and 1647, it was the world's second tallest building at tall, after 160 m tall Lincoln Cathedral.The bell...

 burnt down) until 1874 (when the tower of St. Nikolai's Church in Hamburg
St. Nikolai, Hamburg
The Gothic Revival Church of St. Nicholas was formerly one of the five Lutheran Hauptkirchen in the city of Hamburg. It is now in ruins, serving as a memorial and an important architectural landmark. When Hamburg residents mention the Nikolaikirche, it is generally to this church that they are...

 was completed). The planned south tower was never built and as a result, with its characteristic asymmetrical form, the Strasbourg cathedral is now the premier landmark of Alsace
Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

. One can see 30 kilometers from the observation level, which provides a view of the Rhine banks from the Vosges
Vosges mountains
For the department of France of the same name, see Vosges.The Vosges are a range of low mountains in eastern France, near its border with Germany. They extend along the west side of the Rhine valley in a northnortheast direction, mainly from Belfort to Saverne...

 all the way to the Black Forest
Black Forest
The Black Forest is a wooded mountain range in Baden-Württemberg, southwestern Germany. It is bordered by the Rhine valley to the west and south. The highest peak is the Feldberg with an elevation of 1,493 metres ....

. The octagonal tower as it can be seen is the combined work of architects Ulrich Ensingen
Ulrich Ensingen
Ulrich Ensingen was a medieval German architect. He conceived the plans for the main spire of the Ulm Cathedral and was among the architects of Strasbourg Cathedral....

 (shaft) and Johannes Hültz of Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

 (top). Ensingen worked on the Cathedral from 1399 to 1419, and Hültz from 1419 to 1439.

In 1505, architect Jakob von Landshut and sculptor Hans von Aachen finished rebuilding the Saint-Lawrence portal
Portal (architecture)
Portal is a general term describing an opening in the walls of a building, gate or fortification, and especially a grand entrance to an important structure. Doors, metal gates or portcullis in the opening can be used to control entry or exit. The surface surrounding the opening may be made of...

 (Portail Saint-Laurent) outside the northern transept in a markedly post-Gothic, early-Renaissance style. As with the other portals of the Cathedral, most of the statues now to be seen in situ are copies, the originals having been moved to the Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame
Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame
The Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame is the city of Strasbourg's museum for Upper Rhenish fine and decorative arts from the early Middle Ages until 1681...

.

Later history

In the late Middle Ages, the city of Strasbourg had succeeded to liberate itself from the domination of the bishop
Archbishops of Strasbourg
These persons were bishop, archbishop or prince-bishop of the Archbishopric of Strasbourg:*Amandus*Justinus von Straßburg*Maximinus von Straßburg*Valentinus*Solarius*Arbogast*Florentius*Ansoaldus*Biulfus*Magnus von Straßburg*Aldo*Garoinus*Landbertus...

 and to rise to the status of Free Imperial City
Free Imperial City
In the Holy Roman Empire, a free imperial city was a city formally ruled by the emperor only — as opposed to the majority of cities in the Empire, which were governed by one of the many princes of the Empire, such as dukes or prince-bishops...

. The outgoing 15th century was marked by the sermons of Johann Geiler von Kaisersberg
Johann Geiler von Kaisersberg
Johann Geiler von Kaisersberg , was a Swiss-born preacher, considered one of the greatest of the popular preachers of the 15th century.-Biography:...

 and by the emerging Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, represented in Strasbourg by figures such as John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

, Martin Bucer
Martin Bucer
Martin Bucer was a Protestant reformer based in Strasbourg who influenced Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican doctrines and practices. Bucer was originally a member of the Dominican Order, but after meeting and being influenced by Martin Luther in 1518 he arranged for his monastic vows to be annulled...

 and Jacob Sturm von Sturmeck
Jacob Sturm von Sturmeck
Jacob Sturm von Sturmeck was a German statesman, one of the preeminent promoters of the Protestant Reformation in Germany.-Biography:...

. In 1524, the City Council assigned the Cathedral to the Protestant faith
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

, while the building suffered some damage from iconoclastic assaults
Iconoclasm
Iconoclasm is the deliberate destruction of religious icons and other symbols or monuments, usually with religious or political motives. It is a frequent component of major political or religious changes...

. In 1539, the world's first documented Christmas tree
Christmas tree
The Christmas tree is a decorated evergreen coniferous tree, real or artificial, and a tradition associated with the celebration of Christmas. The tradition of decorating an evergreen tree at Christmas started in Livonia and Germany in the 16th century...

 was set up inside the Münster. After the occupation of the city by Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

, on 30 September 1681, and a mass celebrated in the Cathedral on 23 October 1681 in presence of the king and prince-bishop Franz Egon of Fürstenberg
Franz Egon of Fürstenberg
Franz Egon of Fürstenberg , bishop of Strasbourg, was the elder son of Egon VIII of Fürstenberg-Heiligenberg , who served with distinction as a Bavarian general in the Thirty Years' War....

, the Cathedral was returned to the Catholics and its inside redesigned according to the Catholic liturgy of the Counter-Reformation
Counter-Reformation
The Counter-Reformation was the period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent and ending at the close of the Thirty Years' War, 1648 as a response to the Protestant Reformation.The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort, composed of four major elements:#Ecclesiastical or...

. In 1682, the choir screen (built in 1252) was broken out to expand the quire towards the nave. Remains of the choir screen are displayed in the Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame
Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame
The Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame is the city of Strasbourg's museum for Upper Rhenish fine and decorative arts from the early Middle Ages until 1681...

 and in The Cloisters
The Cloisters
The Cloisters is a museum located in Fort Tryon Park, New York City. The building, which is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was reconstructed in the 1930s from the architectural elements of several European medieval abbeys...

. The main or high altar
Altar (Catholicism)
In the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church, the altar is where the Sacrifice of the Mass is offered. Mass may sometimes be celebrated outside a sacred place, but never without an altar, or at least an altar stone.-Precedent:...

, a major work of early Renaissance sculpture, was also demolished that year. Fragments can be seen in the Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame.

A round, Baroque sacristy
Sacristy
A sacristy is a room for keeping vestments and other church furnishings, sacred vessels, and parish records.The sacristy is usually located inside the church, but in some cases it is an annex or separate building...

 of modest proportions was added north-east of the northern transept in 1744 by the city's chief architect Joseph Massol according to plans by Robert de Cotte
Robert de Cotte
Robert de Cotte was a French architect-administrator, under whose design control of the royal buildings of France from 1699, the earliest notes presaging the Rococo style were introduced. First a pupil of Jules Hardouin-Mansart, he later became his brother-in-law and his collaborator...

 and between 1772 and 1778 architect Jean-Laurent Goetz surrounded the Cathedral by a gallery in early Gothic Revival style
Gothic Revival architecture
The Gothic Revival is an architectural movement that began in the 1740s in England...

 in order to reorganise the merchants shops that used to settle around the building (and would do so until 1843).

In April 1794, the Enragés
Enragés
Les Enragés were a loose amalgam of radicals active during the French Revolution. Politically they stood to the left of the Jacobins. Represented by Jacques Roux, Théophile Leclerc, Jean Varlet and others, they believed that liberty for all meant more than mere constitutional rights...

 who ruled the city started planning to tear the spire down, on the grounds that it hurt the principle of equality. The tower
Tower
A tower is a tall structure, usually taller than it is wide, often by a significant margin. Towers are distinguished from masts by their lack of guy-wires....

 was saved, however, when in May of the same year citizens of Strasbourg crowned it with a giant tin Phrygian cap
Phrygian cap
The Phrygian cap is a soft conical cap with the top pulled forward, associated in antiquity with the inhabitants of Phrygia, a region of central Anatolia. In the western provinces of the Roman Empire it came to signify freedom and the pursuit of liberty, perhaps through a confusion with the pileus,...

 of the kind the Enragés themselves wore. This artifact was later kept in the historical collections of the city until they were all destroyed in a massive fire in August 1870. During the Siege of Strasbourg
Siege of Strasbourg
The Siege of Strasbourg took place during the Franco-Prussian War, and resulted in the French surrender of the fortress on 28 September 1870.-Background:...

, the Cathedral was hit by Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

n artillery and the metal cross on the spire was bent. The crossing
Crossing (architecture)
A crossing, in ecclesiastical architecture, is the junction of the four arms of a cruciform church.In a typically oriented church , the crossing gives access to the nave on the west, the transept arms on the north and south, and the choir on the east.The crossing is sometimes surmounted by a tower...

 dome
Dome
A dome is a structural element of architecture that resembles the hollow upper half of a sphere. Dome structures made of various materials have a long architectural lineage extending into prehistory....

s's roof was pierced and it was subsequently reconstructed in a grander, Romanesque revival
Romanesque Revival architecture
Romanesque Revival is a style of building employed beginning in the mid 19th century inspired by the 11th and 12th century Romanesque architecture...

 style by the Notre-Dame workshop's longtime chief architect, Gustave Klotz.

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Strasbourg's Cathedral was seen as a symbol for both warring parties. Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, who visited it on 28 June 1940, intended to transform the church into a "national sanctuary of the German people"; on 1 March 1941, General Leclerc
Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque
Philippe François Marie, comte de Hauteclocque, then Leclerc de Hauteclocque, by a 1945 decree that incorporated his French Resistance alias Jacques-Philippe Leclerc to his name, , was a French general during World War II...

 made the "vow of Kufra
Kufra
Kufra is a basin and oasis group in Al Kufrah District, southeastern Cyrenaica in Libya. Kufra is historically important above all because at the end of nineteenth century it became the center and holy place of the Senussi order...

" (serment de Koufra), stating he would "rest the weapons only when our beautiful colours fly again on Strasbourg's cathedral". During that same war, the stained glass was removed in 74 cases from the Strasbourg Cathedral and stored in a salt mine near Heilbronn
Heilbronn
Heilbronn is a city in northern Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is completely surrounded by Heilbronn County and with approximately 123.000 residents, it is the sixth-largest city in the state....

, Germany. After the war, it was returned to the cathedral by the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives section of the United States military.

The Cathedral was hit by British and American bombs during air raids on Strasbourg's center on 11 August 1944, which also heavily damaged the Palais Rohan
Palais Rohan, Strasbourg
The Palais Rohan is one of the most important buildings in the city of Strasbourg in Alsace, France. It represents not only the high point of local baroque architecture, according to widespread opinion among art historians, but has also housed three of the most important museums in the city since...

 and the Sainte-Madeleine Church
Sainte-Madeleine Church, Strasbourg
The Sainte-Madeleine Church is a Catholic church in Strasbourg, France, which was built in Gothic style in the late 15th century but largely rebuilt in a style close to Jugendstil after a devastating fire in 1904...

. In 1956, the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

 donated the famous choir window by Max Ingrand, the "Strasbourg Madonna" (see also Flag of Europe Biblical interpretation).
The last war damages were only repaired in the early 1990s.

In October 1988, when the city commemorating 2000 years of foundation by Argentoratum
Argentoratum
Argentoratum or Argentorate was the ancient name of the French city of Strasbourg.The Romans under Nero Claudius Drusus established a military outpost belonging to the Germania Superior Roman province close to a Gaulish village near the banks of the Rhine, at the current location of Strasbourg,...

, pope John Paul II visited and celebrated mass in the cathedral. This event was also an occasion to celebrate the Franco-Germany reconciliation.

In 2000, an Al-Qaeda plot to bomb the adjacent Christmas market
Strasbourg cathedral bombing plot
The Strasbourg Cathedral bombing plot was an al-Qaeda plan to bomb the Strasbourg Christmas market at the feet of Strasbourg Cathedral during the Christmas celebrations of 2000...

 was prevented by French and German police.

Personalities

  • Johann Geiler von Kaisersberg
    Johann Geiler von Kaisersberg
    Johann Geiler von Kaisersberg , was a Swiss-born preacher, considered one of the greatest of the popular preachers of the 15th century.-Biography:...

    , preacher (1478–1510)
  • Johann Conrad Dannhauer
    Johann Conrad Dannhauer
    Johann Conrad Dannhauer Orthodox Lutheran theologian and teacher of Spener....

    , priest (1633–1666)
  • Philipp Jakob Spener
    Philipp Jakob Spener
    Philipp Jakob Spener was a German Christian theologian known as the "Father of Pietism."...

    , preacher (1663–1666)
  • Franz Xaver Richter
    Franz Xaver Richter
    Franz Xaver Richter, known as François Xavier Richter in France was an Austro-Moravian singer, violinist, composer, conductor and music theoretician who spent most of his life first in Austria and later in Mannheim and in Strasbourg, where he was music director of the cathedral...

    , Kapellmeister
    Kapellmeister
    Kapellmeister is a German word designating a person in charge of music-making. The word is a compound, consisting of the roots Kapelle and Meister . The words Kapelle and Meister derive from the Latin: capella and magister...

     (1769–1789)
  • Ignaz Pleyel
    Ignaz Pleyel
    Ignace Joseph Pleyel , ; was an Austrian-born French composer and piano builder of the Classical period.-Early years:...

    , Kapellmeister (1783–1795)

Dimensions

The known dimensions of the building are as follows:
  • Total length: 112 m (367.5 ft)
  • Total inside length: 103 m (337.9 ft)
  • Exterior height of central nave (roof): 40 m (131.2 ft)
  • Inside height of central nave: 32 m (105 ft)
  • Inside height of lateral naves: 19 m (62.3 ft)
  • Inside height of narthex
    Narthex
    The narthex of a church is the entrance or lobby area, located at the end of the nave, at the far end from the church's main altar. Traditionally the narthex was a part of the church building, but was not considered part of the church proper...

    : 42 m (137.8 ft)
  • Width between pillars of central nave: 16 m (52.5 ft)
  • Height of crossing dome: 58 m (190.3 ft)
  • Height of platform: 66 m (216.5 ft)
  • Height of spire: 142 m (465.9 ft)
  • Exterior width of west façade: 51.5 m (169 ft)
  • Diameter of west façade rose window: 13.6 m (44.6 ft)


Strasbourg Cathedral is by far the largest church in Alsace, but all in all much smaller than many other famous Gothic cathedrals (Cologne
Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church in Cologne, Germany. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne and the administration of the Archdiocese of Cologne. It is renowned monument of German Catholicism and Gothic architecture and is a World Heritage Site...

, Amiens
Amiens Cathedral
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Amiens , or simply Amiens Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral and seat of the Bishop of Amiens...

, Milan, York
York Minster
York Minster is a Gothic cathedral in York, England and is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe alongside Cologne Cathedral. The minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England, and is the cathedral for the Diocese of York; it is run by...

...)

Furnishing

Protestant and Revolutionary iconoclasm, the war periods of 1681, 1870 and 1940–1944 as well as changes in taste and liturgy have taken a toll of some of Strasbourg Cathedral's most outstanding features such as the choir screen of 1252 and the successive high altars
Altar (Catholicism)
In the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church, the altar is where the Sacrifice of the Mass is offered. Mass may sometimes be celebrated outside a sacred place, but never without an altar, or at least an altar stone.-Precedent:...

 (ca. 1500 and 1682), but many treasures remain inside the building; others, or fragments of them, being displayed in the Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame
Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame
The Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame is the city of Strasbourg's museum for Upper Rhenish fine and decorative arts from the early Middle Ages until 1681...

.

The outstanding elements are:
  • Stained glass
    Stained glass
    The term stained glass can refer to coloured glass as a material or to works produced from it. Throughout its thousand-year history, the term has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches and other significant buildings...

     windows, mostly 14th century, some late 12th century (northern transept) and 13th century ("emperor windows" in the northern lateral nave), some 20th century (southern transept, choir). Stained glass windows from the former Dominican Church, destroyed in 1870, in the Chapelle Saint-Laurent and Chapelle Saint-André.
  • Tombstone of Conrad de Lichtenberg in the Chapelle Saint-Jean-Baptiste, ca. 1300. Facing it, monument to a canon
    Canon (priest)
    A canon is a priest or minister who is a member of certain bodies of the Christian clergy subject to an ecclesiastical rule ....

     by Nikolaus Gerhaert
    Nikolaus Gerhaert
    Nikolaus Gerhaert , also known as Nikolaus Gerhaert von Leyden, was a sculptor of Dutch origin, although aside from his sculptures, few details are known of his life.- Biography :...

     (1464).
  • Richly ornate baptismal font
    Baptismal font
    A baptismal font is an article of church furniture or a fixture used for the baptism of children and adults.-Aspersion and affusion fonts:...

     by Jost Dotzinger in the northern transept, 1443
  • Richly ornate pulpit
    Pulpit
    Pulpit is a speakers' stand in a church. In many Christian churches, there are two speakers' stands at the front of the church. Typically, the one on the left is called the pulpit...

     by Hans Hammer, north-east of the central nave, 1486
  • Life-sized group of sculptures "Christ on the Mount of Olives" in the northern transept, facing the baptismal font (previously in the Saint Thomas Church
    Saint Thomas Church (Strasbourg)
    The Saint-Thomas Church is a historical building in Strasbourg, eastern France. It is the main Protestant church of the city since its Cathedral became Catholic again after the annexation of the town by France in 1681...

    ), 1498; the cross towering above it is from 1825
  • Suspended pipe organ
    Pipe organ
    The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by driving pressurized air through pipes selected via a keyboard. Because each organ pipe produces a single pitch, the pipes are provided in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the keyboard compass...

     on the north side of the central nave (Organ case of 1385, 1491; mechanism and registers by Alfred Kern, 1981)
  • Choir pipe organ, north side of the choir, Joseph Merklin, 1878
  • Crypt pipe organ, 1998
  • Busts of Apostles from the high altar of 1682 along the semi-circular wall closing the choir, wood, 17th century
  • Tapestries "Life of Mary", Paris, 17th century, acquired by the Cathedral's chapter
    Chapter (religion)
    Chapter designates certain corporate ecclesiastical bodies in the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Nordic Lutheran churches....

     in the 18th century
  • Altars in the chapels (15th–19th centuries); large Baroque
    Baroque
    The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

     altar of 1698 (structure) and 1776 (paintings) in the Chapelle Saint-Laurent

Astronomical clock

The cathedral's south transept
Transept
For the periodical go to The Transept.A transept is a transverse section, of any building, which lies across the main body of the building. In Christian churches, a transept is an area set crosswise to the nave in a cruciform building in Romanesque and Gothic Christian church architecture...

 houses an 18-metre astronomical clock
Astronomical clock
An astronomical clock is a clock with special mechanisms and dials to display astronomical information, such as the relative positions of the sun, moon, zodiacal constellations, and sometimes major planets.-Definition:...

, one of the largest in the world. Its first forerunner was the so-called Dreikönigsuhr ("three-king clock") of 1352-1354, located at the opposite wall from where today's clock is. Then starting in 1547 a new clock was built by Christian Herlin, and others, but the construction was interrupted when the Cathedral was handed over to the Roman Catholic Church. Construction was resumed in 1571 by Conrad Dasypodius
Conrad Dasypodius
Conrad Dasypodius was a professor of mathematics in Strasbourg, Alsace. He was born in Frauenfeld, Thurgau, Switzerland. His first name was also rendered as Konrad or Conradus or Cunradus, and his last name has been alternatively stated as Rauchfuss, Rauchfuß, and Hasenfratz...

 and the Habrecht
Habrecht
Isaac and Josias Habrecht were two clockmaker brothers from Schaffhausen, Switzerland.They were hired to build the second astronomical clock in Strasbourg between 1571 and 1574, its design being created by Christian Herlin and later his pupil Conrad Dasypodius.Josias and Isaac were two sons of...

 brothers, and this clock was astronomically much more involved. It also had paintings by the Swiss painter Tobias Stimmer
Tobias Stimmer
Tobias Stimmer was a Swiss painter and illustrator. His most famous work is the paintings on the Strasbourg astronomical clock. He died in Strasbourg....

. That clock functioned into the late 18th Century and can be seen today in the Strasbourg Museum of Decorative Arts
Musée des Arts décoratifs, Strasbourg
The Musée des Arts décoratifs of the city of Strasbourg, France, is found on the ground floor of the Palais Rohan, the former city palace of the Prince-Bishops from the Rohan family. One half of the museum is made up of the magnificent chambers in the late baroque, Rococo and Empire styles...

.

The clock existing today originated in 1838-1843 (the clock has 1838-1842, but the celestial globe was only finished on June 24, 1843) and was built by Jean-Baptiste Schwilgué
Jean-Baptiste Schwilgué
Jean-Baptiste Schwilgué was the author of the third astronomical clock of Strasbourg Cathedral, built between 1838 and 1843 ....

 in Dasypodius' clock case, and with roughly the same functions, but equipped with completely new mechanics. Schwilgué made a number of preliminary studies years before, such as a design of the computus mechanism (Easter computation) in 1816, and built a prototype in 1821. This mechanism, whose whereabouts are now unknown, could compute Easter following the complex Gregorian rule.

The astronomical part is unusually accurate; it indicates leap year
Leap year
A leap year is a year containing one extra day in order to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical or seasonal year...

s, equinox
Equinox
An equinox occurs twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth's axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the center of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth's equator...

es, and more astronomical data. Thus it was already much more a complex calculating machine
Calculating machine
A calculating machine is a machine designed to come up with calculations or, in other words, computations. One noted machine was the Victorian British scientist Charles Babbage's Difference Engine , designed in the 1840s but never completed in the inventor's lifetime...

 than a clock. Often the complicated functioning of the Strasbourg Clock made specialized mathematical knowledge necessary (not just technical knowledge). The clock was able to determine the computus
Computus
Computus is the calculation of the date of Easter in the Christian calendar. The name has been used for this procedure since the early Middle Ages, as it was one of the most important computations of the age....

 (date of Easter in the Christian calendar) at a time when computers did not yet exist. Easter
Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

 had been defined at the First Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 in A.D. 325 as "the Sunday that follows the fourteenth day of the moon that falls on March 21 or immediately after". (See also Easter controversy
Easter controversy
The Easter controversy is a series of controversies about the proper date to celebrate the Christian holiday of Easter. To date, there are four distinct historical phases of the dispute and the dispute has yet to be resolved...

, Ecclesiastical new moon
Ecclesiastical new moon
An ecclesiastical new moon is the first day of a lunar month in an ecclesiastical lunar calendar. Such months have a whole number of days, 29 or 30, whereas true synodic months can vary from about 29.27 to 29.83 days in length. Medieval authors equated the ecclesiastical new moon with a new...

, and Paschal Full Moon
Paschal Full Moon
Notionally, the paschal full moon refers to the ecclesiastical full moon of the northern spring used in the determination of the date of Easter. The name "paschal" is derived from "Pascha", a transliteration of the Greek word, which is itself a transliteration of the Hebrew pesach, both words...

.)

Today tourists see only the sculpted figurines of this clock, but behind this ensemble there is a mechanism that engages and that represents one of the most beautiful curiosities of the Cathedral. The animated characters launch into movement at different hours of the day. One angel sounds the bell while a second turns over an hourglass
Hourglass
An hourglass measures the passage of a few minutes or an hour of time. It has two connected vertical glass bulbs allowing a regulated trickle of material from the top to the bottom. Once the top bulb is empty, it can be inverted to begin timing again. The name hourglass comes from historically...

. Different characters, representing the ages of life (from a child to an old man) parade in front of Death
Death (personification)
The concept of death as a sentient entity has existed in many societies since the beginning of history. In English, Death is often given the name Grim Reaper and, from the 15th century onwards, came to be shown as a skeletal figure carrying a large scythe and clothed in a black cloak with a hood...

. On the last level are the Apostles, passing in front of Christ. The clock shows much more than the official time; it also indicates solar time, the day of the week (each represented by a god of mythology), the month, the year, the sign of the zodiac
Zodiac
In astronomy, the zodiac is a circle of twelve 30° divisions of celestial longitude which are centred upon the ecliptic: the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year...

, the phase of the moon and the position of several planets. All these automatons are put into operation at 12:30 PM.

According to legend, the creator of this clock had his eyes gouged out afterward, to prevent him from reproducing it. Similar legends are told for other clocks, such as the astronomical clock in Prague
Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

.

In the same room, there is a statue of a man resting his elbows on a balustrade. According to legend this was a rival architect to the one who had built the pillar of angels, the architectural feat of the era, who contended that one single pillar could never support such a large vault
Vault (architecture)
A Vault is an architectural term for an arched form used to provide a space with a ceiling or roof. The parts of a vault exert lateral thrust that require a counter resistance. When vaults are built underground, the ground gives all the resistance required...

, and he would wait to see the whole thing come crashing down.

There are several models of the Strasbourg clock, usually with simplified functions. One is in the Sydney Powerhouse Museum
Powerhouse Museum
The Powerhouse Museum is the major branch of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney, the other being the historic Sydney Observatory...

  http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/exhibitions/strasburg_clock.asp.

From 1858 until 1989, the clock was taken care of by the company. This company was founded in 1858 by two brothers who were Schwilgué's assistants. Since 1989, the clock has been taken care of by Alfred Faullimmel and his son Ludovic, for the Strasbourg cathedral.
Mr. Faullimmel had been employed by Ungerer between 1955 and 1989.

In popular culture

The 1976 film Monsieur Klein
Monsieur Klein
Monsieur Klein is a 1976 French film directed by Joseph Losey, with Alain Delon starring in the title role.- Synopsis :It is 1942, the war is in full swing and France is occupied by the Nazis. To Robert Klein, however, these events are of little concern...

, set in France in 1942, takes place largely in Paris but in one sequence, in the middle of the film, the protagonist visits his father in Strasbourg. The Cathedral can be seen out a window, and there is a brief shot inside the Cathedral of the astronomical clock's figurines moving about and striking the hour.

The Dutch progressive rock
Progressive rock
Progressive rock is a subgenre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s as part of a "mostly British attempt to elevate rock music to new levels of artistic credibility." John Covach, in Contemporary Music Review, says that many thought it would not just "succeed the pop of...

 band Focus
Focus (band)
Focus is a Dutch rock band which was founded by classically trained organist/flautist Thijs van Leer in 1969, and is most famous for the instrumental pieces "Hocus Pocus" and "Sylvia"...

 dedicated a theme to the cathedral in their 1974 album Hamburger Concerto
Hamburger Concerto
Hamburger Concerto, is the fourth studio album by the band Focus, released in 1974, and peaking at #20 in the UK charts. Based on the first Brahms variation on a theme by Haydn which was, itself, premiered in Hamburg.-Side one:...

.

The Cathedral and surrounding plaza figure prominently in the opening scene of the film Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is an upcoming 2011 British-American action mystery film directed by Guy Ritchie and produced by Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, Susan Downey, and Dan Lin. It is a sequel to the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes, based on the character of the same name created by Sir Arthur...

.

Legends

One legend
Legend
A legend is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude...

 says that the building rests on immense piles of oak sinking into the waters of an underground lake. A boat would roam around the lake, without anyone inside, though the noise of the oars could be heard nevertheless. According to the legend, the entry to the underground lake could be found in the cellar of a house just opposite the cathedral. It would have been walled up a few centuries ago.

The legend of the wind blowing around the cathedral is as follows: In olden days, the Devil flew over the ground, riding the wind. Thus he caught a glimpse of his portrait carved onto the cathedral: the Tempter, courting the foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), in the guise of a seductive young man. It is true that his back opens up and toads and snakes come out of it, but none of the naïve girls notices that — nor do many tourists for that matter. Very flattered and curious, the Devil had the idea to enter to see whether there were other sculptures representing him on the inside of the cathedral. Taken captive inside the holy place, he could not come back out. The wind always waits in the square and still howls today from impatience on the places outside the cathedral. The Devil, furious, makes air currents from the bottom of the church to the height of the pillar of angels.

See also

  • Kammerzell House
  • Parable of the Ten Virgins
    Parable of the Ten Virgins
    The Parable of the Ten Virgins, also known as the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, is one of the well known parables of Jesus. It appears in only one of the Canonical gospels of the New Testament...

  • Sabina von Steinbach
    Sabina von Steinbach
    Sabina von Steinbach was - according to legend - a female stonemason living in Alsace during the 13th century. She is said to have been the daughter of Erwin von Steinbach, architect and master builder at Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, the cathedral in Strasbourg...

  • Saint-Thiébaut Church, Thann
    Saint-Thiébaut Church, Thann
    The Collégiale Saint-Thiébaut in Thann, Haut-Rhin is one of the most ornate Gothic churches in the whole Upper Rhenish region...

  • St. Peter and St. Paul's Church, Wissembourg
    St. Peter and St. Paul's Church, Wissembourg
    St. Peter and St. Paul's Church of Wissembourg is frequently, but incorrectly, referred to as the second largest Gothic church of Alsace after Strasbourg Cathedral. However, the building, with its interior ground surface area of 1320 m² most probably is the second largest Gothic church in...

  • St. George's Church, Sélestat

External links

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