Strasbourg

Strasbourg Cathedral

Considered one of the most beautiful monuments of Western architecture, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame looms over Strasbourg with its massive tower. This impressive Cathedral built out of red Vosges sandstone took several centuries to complete and displays a range of architectural styles-from 12th-century Romanesque to 15th-century Late Gothic. The exterior of the Cathedral functions as a lesson in biblical stories, complete with hundreds of figures.

The 13th-century west front facade depicts scenes of the Christ’s Passion, the work of Master Erwin and his successors. On the south side are famous allegorical sculptures of the Church and the Synagogue created by a German artist circa 1230. Two features added in the 15th century include the exquisite octagon of the north tower and the openwork spire. Until the 19th century, the 142-meter spire of the Strasbourg Cathedral was the highest in the Christian world.

The Strasbourg Cathedral has exceptional medieval stained-glass windows that compare in magnificence to those at the Cathedral in Chartres. Among the most splendid are the stained-glass rose window in the west front and the Byzantine-style stained-glass windows in the choir. With colorful light filtered through these windows, the Cathedral’s nave provides an inspiring space for spiritual contemplation. Another of the Cathedral’s most exquisite works is the “Coronation of the Virgin” tapestry, which ranks among the highest achievements of religious art.

The Cathedral has an enormous organ that features animated figures. In the south transept stands thehorloge astronomique, a Renaissance astronomical clock. This masterpiece of timekeeping entertains visitors with a parade of the apostles every day at 12:30pm. After touring the inside of the Cathedral, visitors can ascend to the top of the tower for a magnificent view of the city, the Rhine plains, the Black Forest, and the Vosges Mountains.