Wednesday, September 26, 2012

STRASBOURG, FRANCE: Part 1

As we traveled down the Rhine (It's still hard to think of going north as going "down," but the Rhine flows north), our next stop was Strasbourg, France.  Like Colmar, it is part of the Alsace region of France that ping-ponged between France and Germany so many times.  In many ways, Strasbourg is very much like Colmar in appearance and ambiance, and like Colmar, Strasbourg has a thing for storks.  Our bus drove down the Boulevard de l'Orangerie, a street lined on both sides with trees that are specially trimmed to support platforms for stork nests.
Our bus driver didn't stop to let us take pictures, I am assuming in deference to the privacy of these nesting birds, so I borrowed this photo from here.
However, Strasbourg is a much larger, more cosmopolitan city than Colmar. This row of European flags is in front of the European Parliament, of which Strasbourg is the seat.  At 754 members, it is the second largest parliament in the world, second only to the Parliament of India.
I have no idea what this sculpture represents, but I love the contrast of the rough-hewn female figures and the flat male silhouettes:
Yep. Strasbourg has plenty of personality:

Strasbourg is the second most important river port in France, second only to Paris.  In fact, Strasbourg is actually attached to Paris via a series of romantic canals:



There are plenty of beautiful and very old half-timbered gingerbread houses that made us feel like we were walking through a fairytale.

Yes, that date says 1663:


And the bakeries--ah, the bakeries.  Nothing quite compares with the drool-inducing sights, aromas, and tastes of French pastries:






Spending time at the pastry shop is just not that fun for poor Vegan Bob.  Of course, it's not pastries that tempt him.  In this picture, I think he is looking at a window full of foie gras, a Strasbourg specialty.

How many cities do you know that have a wonderful old carousel right in the middle of the town square? Strasbourg does.
(For a fun panoramic view of the carousel and square, go here.)

It is right next to this statue of Johannes Gutenberg, who lived in Strasbourg for ten years, during which time he perfected his process of movable type.  Although he printed the first Bible (in Latin) in the city of Mainz, the first German Bible was later printed in Strasbourg.

"Let there be light":
My first reaction to this street sign was to look for the name "King."  I am such an American.

We had a terrific lunch at an outdoor cafe.
The French can make even a vegan salad a work of art:
My sauerkraut and fileted wurst was pretty spectacular too:
Even the bathroom door had that "French touch":
Bob and Stan rubbed the head of this statue for good luck:


Of course, no tour of a European city is complete without a tour of its churches. We visited two in Strasbourg.  The first was the Church of St. Thomas, the main Protestant church of the city:
Construction began in 1196 and was finished in 1521.

Only the rose window in the nave is original. The others were destroyed during religious purges or wars and were replaced with obviously more modern windows:

The cathedral is known for its 1741 Silbermann organ, which was played by Mozart in 1778 and by Albert Schweitzer in the early 20th century.  That's my photo on the left, which obviously doesn't capture the glory of the instrument, so I had to pilfer a picture from Wikipedia, as seen on the right:
The original keyboard has been replaced with a newer one, and the 1741 version is on the church floor, flanked by cutouts of the two famous men who played it:
Two of my sisters pose with Schweitzer, who was one of Mom's heroes:
As I mentioned in my first post about the family cruise, in which I listed our favorite parts of the trip, we were lucky enough to be in the church when the church organist, Professor Daniel Leininger, came to practice


A second organ in the church was built in 1905 after a design by Albert Schweitzer

The tomb of Maurice de Saxe, Marshal General of France, who died in 1750


The sarcophagus of Bishop Adelochus, the first bishop of Strasbourg:
A late Gothic fresco of Saint Michael, one of the largest of this type of fresco in Europe:
For a relatively unimposing church, St. Thomas's certainly contains a lot of treasures.

Coming Up: The OTHER Church, The Strasbourg Cathedral

3 comments:

  1. Strasbourg was probably my favorite city on the cruise. Nice memories.

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  2. Listening to that organ music made me cry all over again. Thanks for the memories.

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  3. I love it when we hear the organists practice. Quite fun to listen via your film clip (I'm listening just now). And how beautiful the light from the windows on the sarcophogus.

    Your day in the city is also quite fun--so much you've seen!

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