From September 2014 to September 2015, the Notre Dame Cathedral of Strasbourg is celebrating. The venerable building, which was once the tallest in the world, celebrates the millennium of its foundation. This summer already, and until August 31, the facade of the cathedral is draped in her glittering costumes.
“The Transfigurations of Notre Dame” are a sight not to be missed, every night from 22:15 pm. To give us a taste of what is getting ready for next year. All the more reason to spend a summer evening stroll in Strasbourg.
A tall silhouette who watches over the daily life of Strasbourg
The cathedral is visible from afar in the Alsatian plain and can be seen from as far as the Vosges or Forest Noire.On sees clearly the platform of Mont Sainte Odile when the weather is not not too foggy.
A very long history never accomplished …
Strasbourg was founded by the Celts and developed by the Romans. It is therefore not surprising that the foundation wall of the cathedral is established on the remains of Roman houses built eight hundred years earlier. Archaeologists have identified the remains of a bath, a hypocaust, a terrazzo floor and discovered a mosaic of the Roman era. The site is in fact inside the Roman camp of the Eighth legion which stood on the ancient Celtic town Argentorate.
From the Roman occupation, many religious buildings have succeeded at the site of the present cathedral: a Roman temple dedicated to the god Mars and several cathedrals were regularly destroyed by fire. In 1015, the bishop Wernher wanted to take up again the challenge. He wanted the new cathedral to be built on the exact spot where the first Christians prayed. It was actually built on piles driven into the ground water and backfilled because the loamy ground was moving and not conducive to construction.
Begun in 1015, these unique foundations in the world were not completed until 1028, the year of the death of the bishop, thirteen years after the start of work. This is a base of silt and reinforced with wooden stakes clay. It is an ancient technique used to create a kind of steady footing on which to raise the masonry foundations
During the canalization works on the Rhine by the German engineer Baden Tula in the nineteenth century, the level of the water table fell. The piles began to rot and the north tower began to sink slowly. In 1906 it became necessary to lift the tower to inject concrete under its foundations.
Silence and contemplation
From the Cathedral launched by the bishop Wernher, only the foundations and some partial architectural elements are still standing. During the early years, several fires have obliged the builders of the Middle Ages to regain the site several times.
Due to the long period of construction, many contractors have succeeded. Only 14 are known to have worked from the late thirteenth century. Over the decades, the style of the cathedral will change from Romanesque to Gothic. The spire was not completed until 1439, more than 400 years after the creation of the foundation. Victor Hugo described the Strasbourg Cathedral as a “miracle of gigantic and delicate.” With 142,11 m, it was indeed the tallest building in the world from 1647 to 1874.
Today, with more than 4 million visitors a year, the Notre Dame Cathedral of Strasbourg is the second most visited cathedral in France after Notre-Dame de Paris.
Sunset stroll in the old city of Strasbourg around the cathedral
After visiting the nave of the cathedral and waiting for the night and the colorful spectacle of the Transfigurations of Notre Dame on the facade of the cathedral, you can occupy your time usefully: discover the immediate vicinity of the Cathedral and have dinner at one of the traditional Alsatian restaurants just nearby.
On the Place du Château (Castle Square), on the south side of the cathedral, you will see the Palais (palace) de Rohan and the museum Oeuvre Notre Dame. A secular institution, the Fondation de l’Oeuvre Notre Dame is dedicated to the maintenance, preservation and restoration of the Cathedral of Strasbourg. It is also a fabulous museum. The Palace of Rohan hosts alone the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Decorative Arts. In short, to enjoy all the masterpieces gathered in this square adjoining the cathedral, it will be necessary to … come back.
The streets of the old city surrounding the cathedral are an integral part of the history of the city. Unesco has listed the entire island on the list of World Heritage Sites. Make sure to sit at the table of one of those old winstubs that inhabit the area.
The Transfigurations of Notre Dame:
Suit of Lights and millennium celebrations
Every summer, the Notre Dame Cathedral in Strasbourg has after dark garments of light.
The new show The transfigurations of Notre Dame, created for this year is full of poetry projected by pioneering technologies. Suddenly, the Cathedral takes a special dimension. A huge theater of images and light is superimposed on the lace sandstone that has survived the centuries. Evoking the dramas but also the joys of which the venerable building, the epicenter of life in Strasbourg for a millennium, has witnessed …
The show lasts a quarter of an hour. It is beautiful and moving. To be seen this year until 31 August 2014. During the Summer 2015, year of the millennium, the show will be even more grandiose!
Practical info and useful links
I suggest you take your afternoon and evening. In July-August, activity slows down due to the holidays and traffic is easier by car in Strasbourg. It is also easier to find a parking. By choosing the underground car parks at Halles-Kleber or Gutenberg you will be immediately in the heart of the historic city. As soon as you come forth in the open, the silhouette of the cathedral will be your go …
The Transfigurations of Notre Dame – Information: 03 88 60 90 90 – from July 2014 to August 2014.
From Saturday, JUL 05 to Sunday, AUG 31, 5 performances every 15 minutes from 22:15. Access is free.
Opening hours of the Cathedral – The cathedral is open daily from 7:00 to 11:20 and 12:40 to 7:00 p.m..
New opening hours for the platform of the cathedral as of 01/08/2014:
From 1 April to 30 September: daily from 9:30 am to 20h (last climb at 19:30) Closed on May 1st.
From 1 October to 31 March: daily from 10am to 18pm (last climb at 17:30) Closed December 25 and January 1.
Price: EUR 5 / person. Reduced rate for youth / students.
There are 332 steps to climb to the platform that is 66 meters above the square.
Astronomical Clock – The complete set of automatons (procession of the Apostles) is visible every day at 12:30.
Presentation of the astronomical clock at 12:00 with a video before its usual ring.
Parade of the Apostles daily at 12:30.
Tickets on sale at the postcards booth 9:30 to 11:20. Price EUR 2 / person.
11:20: Opening of the box located outside next to the door of the clock – place du Château (castle square).
11:45: access to the cathedral through the Porte St Michel located on the south side of the cathedral (Castle Square).
Access to the clock is free on Sundays and holidays; there is no video on these days.
This page is an initiative of Les Remparts de Riquewihr – luxury and romantic holiday homes in the heart of Alsace, France – an ideal base to visit all of Alsace as well as nearby Germany and Switzerland.