As for its name: officially, we are talking about the "Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg". Strasbourg has changed hands in the past several times between France and Germany, and the German place names are still well known throughout the Alsace (Elsaß) region. In German, the building is officially called "Liebfrauenmünster zu Straßburg". in English, Cathedral of Our Lady.
So, when is a church a cathedral, and when is it a minster? I can explain this for the German words, but am not sure the same applies to the English words. We were told this by our tour guide in Ulm when I stayed there in March for the first part of my course. A church is called Münster (minster) when it was not originally built as a parish church but as part of a monastery. It is called a Kathedrale (cathedral) when it is the seat of a bishop. And when would you call it a Dom (dome)? Churches that have special importance in architectural, religious-cultural or historical terms.
According to wikipedia. the Strasbourg Minster (or Cathedral) is one of the biggest sandstone buildings in the world. And having a look at it from the outside, I can easily believe that:
Building took from 1176 to 1439, and until 1874, it was the highest building on Earth, with its north tower reaching 142 metres.
Have a closer look at the roof - can you see the small, flat-roofed house on top of the church's roof? I was most intrigued by this and wanted to know what it was for. Did anybody actually live up there? I found out that it was used by visitors for dance parties at night and as a restaurant for hungry and thirsty tourists after their climbing up the tower.
Now let's go inside.
Some of the windows are still the original ones from the 12th to 14th century. The next pictures are for my Mum, because she likes angels so much:
And here is the astronomical clock:
So impressive! You can get a good idea of its size from the first picture, where you can see someone's hand pointing up in the lower right corner. Its oldest parts are from 1353, but it underwent restorative work and had many additions throughout the centuries until it reached its final form, the way we see it today, in 1842. Did you know it is the only clock in the world that strikes 13?
I am not sure who this lady represents; a rich donor or a saint, but I like her face.
A visit to the Minster is something I'd highly recommend; there is no admission charge (unlike at York Minster, which was truly disappointing), but the inside of the building is very dark, and there are lights set up to illuminate the various points of interest if you put in coins. People are very ready to pay for that, and everyone else who happens to be in the same spot benefits from the one coin. I much prefer this method of getting at least some money out of the many visitors than charging a general admission fee.
That was the last of my Strasbourg posts. Next up will probably be Munich, where I spent all of last week for work.