Strasbourg (Grand Est - France)

When Venkat's friends pulled him for a day-trip to Strasbourg, we were oblivious of the fact that the city's cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site! It came in a pleasant surprise! Venkat's friend found this trip in Meetup and it was organized by ExpatClub in Brussels. It was a coach trip all the way from Brussels to Strasbourg which took about 4 hrs. So it was an early start and a very late arrival. So, over to Venkat, for an account of this trip!!! 

The focus of the trip was on the Christmas markets which is one of the best in the whole of Europe. Christmas Markets have been big here since 1570 CE, making it one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe and the oldest in Frane. It infact has the nickname, Capitale de Noel (capital of Christmas)!!! It is so awesome that it attracts more than 2 million visitors every year and hotels get booked almost a year in advance!!!!! Mulled wine, is a specialty here. Quite amusingly, while everywhere else, its mulled, warm red wine, here is white!!!!!!

This place is called Grande Île, which literally means 'big island'! Just like Berlin's Museum Island, this too is a large town surrounded river Ill and Canal du Faux-Rempart on either sides. In the heart of the island is Place Kléber where the humongous Christmas Tree has been set-up! Very close to it is the imposing Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg.

This site where the church stands has always been a religious site since 4th C CE. Emperor Charlemagne built a church here, which was burnt down in 1002 CE. Another church was built on this site in 1015 CE which was also destroyed and finally in 1176 CE. the current structure was built. Its beginnings are Romanesque and still the Norman arches can be found in the crypt, the choir, the northern cross, the first level of the southern cross, the double arch of the entrance to the chapel of St. Andrew etc. By 1225 CE, the construction of the Gothic elements began. In early 1300s the towers were built and by 1390 CE the Belfry between the towers was done! The Cathedral was the world's tallest building from 1647 CE to 1874 CE. Today, its the 6th tallest church in the world!

The specialty here is that some of the stained glass windows here, belong to the original structure built in 1176 CE while most other belong to 15th C CE. The northern lateral nave have some of the oldest windows including the Kaiserfenster (emperor windows) depicting the 19 Holy Roman emperors. 
Another fascinating feature of the church is ofcourse its Astronomical Clock. The original clock that was here dates back to 14th C CE, and the current one belongs to 18th C CE. It was designed by Jean-Baptiste Schwilgué. He was over 50 years old when he was given the project though he wanted to work on it ever since he was a youngman! It took 5 years to build this exceptional clock, which was inaugurated in 1842 that still runs. Parts of the 1st & 2nd clocks are still in display at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Strasbourg.


Ofcourse, a trip to Strasbourg, can never to complete without a boat-ride in the canal. While a ride in the day-time in good, a ride in the night, during December with the Christmas lights on, is just mesmerizing!

Timings & Entry Ticket:
Free
Mon - Sat: 8:30AM to 5:45PM (11:30AM-12:30AM entry is restricted but only clock can be seen)
Sun: 1:30PM to 5:30PM

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

12 comments:

  1. Oh my, that brings back memories. This was actually my first (and so far only) trip to France. If memory serves correctly, I guess it was back in 1989.

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  2. I havent been to Strasbourg in years but this sure did bring back some amazing memories. Blended in with a Germanic feel to the place (as it used to be a part of Germany), the people are nice, the food more meaty and buildings are so pretty. I also used to do the Christmas markets here which are amazing but by the end of the evening, I was rather drunk. Happy times. :)

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  3. Strasbourg is so very much on my list for the Christmas markets. And it is so nice to know that the mulled wine here is white. That is certainly unique. And what a pretty UNESCO site this is. To comprehend that it has been around since the 4th C CE.is fascinating.

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  4. Despite having been several times to France, I’ve not yet made it to Strasbourg. Grande Île looks so pretty, especially during the Christmas period. That's also so interesting that mulled wine is white, not red. How weird!

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  5. Strasbourg is such a lovely place. I love Europe and have seen only a bit of France. This could be another go to place for me. I love what I see. A boat ride is always one of my must do whenever there are opportunities like this.

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  6. Strasbourg has been on my list for a long time. I'd love to visit the Christmas markets and Cathédrale Notre Dame. Taking a boat along the canal is definitely a great idea too. Great tips!

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  7. Strasbourg is just beautiful. I was prepared to like Colmar but was pleasantly surprised by Strasbourg instead. I remember the Cathedral , it is impressive but I only saw it from the outside. Perhaps I should plan a trip for the Christmas market there too.

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  8. Wow!! I had no idea that Christmas markets have been around for so long. Love it! It's such a beautiful place to be, but being there with the wonder of Christmas time must be fabulous. I need to get there during the holidays some day!

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  9. Wow, that astronomical clock is so cool! The cathedral's stained glass is incredible, too. I will definitely put Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg on my list when I visit Strasbourg. A boat ride in the canal would be fun, too!

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  10. Ahhh we visited Colmar, which is nearby, but we didn't make it to Strasbourg! I definitely want to go back. And possibly visit during either spring or Christmas season.

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  11. There's not much Christmas markets in Asia and I have never seen any christmas markets here in the Philippines. I have always wanted to experience it though. I hope I can visit Europe during christmas time as I have heard so many great things about their christmas markets.

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  12. How cool! Never knew that this was the oldest Christmas market. Loved the architecture of Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg. Beautiful stained glass windows and that vintage clock :)
    Hope to visit it someday!

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