Church of the Week: Strasbourg Cathedral, Strasbourg, France

This week's church of the week is a tough one to take a good photo of, rising as it does from the close confines of Petit France in the center of Strasbourg, France. While we could view it from our hotel window a mile or two away, the above photo was our first glimpse of it on our first walk through Petit France.

Massive, and ornate, Strasbourg Cathedral de Notre-Dame is one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in Europe. It stands on the exact site of a roman temple built on a little hill.

Due to the height of its tower (465 ft.), the Strasbourg Cathedral was considered the tallest building in the world for a couple hundred years. It was also unique in that it was one of the few gothic churches equipped with only one tower.

Under the Reformation, in 1521, the cathedral became a Protestant church. After the incorporation of Strasburg into France in 1681, the cathedral became--and remains today--a Catholic church.

One of the wonders of this cathedral is the massive astronomical clock (below), created by various scientists, mathematicians, Swiss watchmakers, sculptors, and painters and creators of automatons who all worked together to build this amazing automate. The present mechanism dates from 1842 (there were earlier versions).

Right nearby the astronomical clock is the likewise striking Pillar of Angels:

As I mentioned on my Hither & Yon blog the day we visited this site, while the Strasbourg Cathedral would have been known to my great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Jakob Hochstetler (in fact, its spire would have been visible from the Volges Mountains where he once lived), it would have represented danger and oppression to him and his seventeenth century Anabaptist brethren, who were banished from this area in 1712.

So this cathedral's history actually intertwines with my family history and, regardless of what it would have represented to my forebears, it nonetheless brought me and the lovely Robin an hour or so of beauty, wonder, and enjoyment in November 2010.

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