Up and out at 9 AM on Day 13 of our cruise. Said “Good Bye” to our ever present swans. and boarded our color coded buses for Strasbourg.Before going downtown, we took a boat cruise on one of the Canals that circle Strasbourg. All 130 of us got on this sightseeing boat. Unfortunately the sound system was not good and Mary Ann and I missed a lot of the trip narrative.
We did hear that the history of Strasbourg in the Alsace Lorraine region has been a difficult one:
:Up until 1870 The area was part of Prussian Germany.
1871-1914: Alsace-Lorraine is part of the German Empire
1914: WWI and this area is hit hard.
1918: Alsace-Lorraine appears to be back in French hands.
1939-1942: Back to German control
1942-1945: WWII and this area is hit hard again. Still listed as German
1945: Back to France
Sometimes the Alsacians must not have know what nationality they were.
However, we did see several interesting sights along the canal:
Canal house boats made from obsolete river barges. Nice digs:
Fancy canalside residences and office buildings:
Attractive water front restaurant:
An interesting public sculpture:
And, an occasional glimpse of the Strasbourg Cathedral between the buildings:
We finally came face-to-face with the facade. It was awesome! It was so huge, a photo couldn’t encompass the whole front of the Cathedral. Everyone was dwarfed. It was so closely surrounded by buildings and it was so massive,it was impossibe to photograph.
This is the Strasbourg Cathedral or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg. Although considerable parts of it are still in Romanesque architecture, it is widely considered to be among the finest examples of high, or late, Gothic architecture. Erwin von Steinbach is credited for major contributions from 1277 to his death in 1318.
At 466 feet, it was the world’s tallest building from 1647 to 1874, when it was surpassed by the St. Nikolai’s Church, Hamburg. Today it is the sixth-tallest church in the world and the highest still-standing structure built entirely in the Middle Ages. Pretty impressive, eh?!!
There are hundreds of statues in the facade. One, pointed out to us by our city guide, was “The Devil”. Here he is complete with snakes for hair and toads clinging to his back.He doesn’t look like such a bad guy. No horns,no tail, no bat wings. just a nice tasty looking apple to offer.
The interior is equally as awesome: Here are some of the dimensions of the Cathedral. These numbers may seem dry. It’s the feeling of hugeness that overwhelms many first time visitors:
- Total inside length: 338 ft (longer than a football playing field)
- Exterior height of central nave (roof): 130 ft
- Inside height of central nave: 105 ft
- Inside height of lateral naves: 62 ft
- Inside height of narthex: 138 ft
- Width between pillars of central nave: 52 ft
- Height of crossing dome: 190 ft
Here are a couple of shots of the stained glass windows:
There are two other features in the Cathedral that attract visitors: The Pillar of Angles and the Horloge Astronomique (Astronomical Clock)
First: The Pillar of Angels
The Pillar of Angels, constructed around 1230 (Our guide said it was carved from one piece of stone. I don’t believe it.), serves as the central pillar of the south transept (near the clock). It features twelve sculptures: the 4 evangelists, angels playing the trumpet and, further up, Christ the Judge, seated, serene and benevolent, and surrounded by angels carrying the Instruments of the Passion. The pillar is also called “Pillar of Last Judgement” because it stages the judgement mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
Close to the pillar there is a statue of a man leaning on a railing (sorry, no picture). This was a jealous architect competitor who predicted that such a pillar could never support the archway. He declared that he would wait for the structure to collapse to prove the veracity of his conviction. He is still there, waiting…
The crowd is waiting for the cock to crow thrice. He’s in there somewhere.
This current third clock dates from 1843. Its main features, besides the automata (A word sometimes used to describe an old-fashioned robot), are a perpetual calendar (including a computus used to calculate the date of Easter in terms of the Gregorian calendar or Julian calendar), an orrery (planetary dial), a display of the real position of the Sun and the Moon, and solar and lunar eclipses.
The main attraction is the procession of the 18 inch high figures of Christ and the Apostles which occurs every day at half past midday while the life-size cock crows thrice. The Swiss could definitely not make this into a wrist watch.
One final picture of the Cathedral. The Flying Buttresses without which the Cathedral could not have been built.
(Note the little tourist train. Almost every town we visited had one. Panted a different color in each town.)
There is a statue of Gutenberg (next to a carousel) in Strasbourg. “Why is it there?”, you ask.
Remember Johann Gutenberg from Mainz? He spent a good bit of time in Strasbourg. Historical documents from 1438 connect him to a press, to forms, tools and lead, among other things. It is likely that Gutenberg “invented” printing in Strasbourg using a printing press (modeled after a wine press) and moveable type – or at least he came very close to doing so. The question remains as to how far his invention progressed at this stage. There are no books or prints available to us from this period.
Gutenberg returned to Mainz, got financing, built his printing press, and began printing Bibles. Some time in 1456, there was a dispute between Gutenberg and Fust, (His financer in Mainz.) and Fust demanded his money back, accusing Gutenberg of misusing the funds. Meanwhile the expenses of the Bible project had proliferated, and Gutenberg’s debt now exceeded 20,000 guilders. Fust sued at the archbishop’s court. A legal document records that there was a partnership for a “project of the books,” the funds for which Gutenberg had used for other purposes, according to Fust. The court decided in favor of Fust, giving him control over the Bible printing workshop and half of all printed Bibles. Thus Gutenberg was effectively bankrupt and couldn’t print any more bibles. TMI?
Strasbourg also has other interesting sights:
A statue of the French General Leclerc who liberated Srasbourg from the Nazis.
A statue of a mother with two dead sons, symbolizing the futility and sorrow of war.
And, the headquarters of the famous “French Foreign Legion”
Remember the movie “Beau Geste”? (A gesture noble in form but meaningless in substance.)
We returned to the ship and set sail for Breisach, in the Black Forest (Schwazwald) region of Germany. While underway, a Coo Coo Clock vendor had a display of Black forest stuff set up in the Lounge. Here he is holding is a traditional hat worn by unmarried ladies there. Some of t he clocks are behind him.
We looked at the clocks, as you may know, I’m a clock fancier. These were too expensive (several hundred dollars). I’ll look for one in a yard sale.
Anyway, I took a nap and got ready for another great dinner including the entree “Truffled Corn fed Chicken Supreme with Madeira Glaze served with Creamy Mascarpone Polenta and Asparagus“. How can you beat that?
After dinner we were treated to a show put on by the crew in the Lounge. The show was singing, guitar playing. and several hilarious skits. It was a great show and the crew really had done a lot of work preparing for it. Unfortunately, I could not get any pictures. The dim lighting and rapid motions made it impossible. Alas, another missed photo opportunity…
And so to bed.
The next day: Day 14. We started out with a lecture on the European Union by Eric Shuler, a professor from the Freiburg University. Very informative, but I’ll not bore you with the complicated details (I can’t remember them, anyway).
We were bused to Freiburg and began a walking tour wit a city guide. First stop: The Town Hall.
Note the clock showing the accurate time.
We happend to catch the Mayor giving an interview to some TV reporters.
Apparently he was being interviewed because a local Muslim group was protesting a planned showing of the controversial anti- Muslim movie that was recently made in the US. I don’t know what happened. All the news is in German.
Many of you know that I am a great fan of European Street and Sidewalk Pavers. You didn’t know that? I even have started a collection of them. (I’ve got two.)
Here are a few pictures of some we walked on:
You’ll notice that,as well as admiring the pavers, you can see that there is little water running in a gutter here. These are unique to Freiburg. They are called Bachle and they’re all over town. First documented in the 13th century, they contain clean water. In the olden days, they served as a water supply and were used to help fight fires.
Today the Bächle are loved by children and tourists alike.
It is local superstition that if you accidentally step in the Bächle, you will marry a Freiburger.
As usual, we had to stop at the local Cathedral. There was something going on inside that prevented us from looking around, but what was probably more interesting and unusual was one of the Gargoyles.
Yep, you guessed it. One of the gargoyles on the Freiburg Minster is that of a human figure holding on to the building with both hands and feet, so that its rear hangs over the market square. It is an actually water spout, not just a decorative sculpture (which I believe makes it a *real* gargoyle). According to the locals, the city council kept increasing the demands they made on the city stone masons without a corresponding increase in pay, so the stone masons carved this particular gargoyle (looking at and pointing to the home of a councilman) in response.
An unusual poster:
I didn’t think Pavarotti, Carreras, and Domingo were Chinese.
A few shots of interesting pavers in front of shops. Can you guess the shops?
And, of course…
Here is a comely Freiburg maiden wearing one of those special Schwarzwald Hats.
Our parting view of Freiburg was this lovely pastry shop.
Dinner tonight was The Captain’s Farewell Dinner. The entree was a “Slice of Roasted Beef Tenderloin on Melba Toast with Hickory Smoked Flavored Gravy with Potato William and Grilled Zucchini“.
Dessert was “Baked Alaska“:
This evenings entertainment? was several “Schwarzwalder” men trying to be humorous. They started by trying to get people in the audience to play this Swiss-Alpsy horn. It was kind of silly. I think they next tried to get people to put on their funny hats and yodel. Mary Ann and I discretely left the Lounge and went to bed.
While we having lunch, the ship left Breisach and headed to Basel, Switzerland. We’ll continue our trip tomorrow on the next page.