The Notre Dame cathedral in Strasbourg is one of the two poles of attraction of the city of Strasbourg. Beyond being one of the most beautiful religious monuments in Europe its history is deeply related as in the case of many other cathedrals in the French cities with the history of the city. A Roman temple was originally located in this place, to be replaced by a church and cathedral built during the reign of Charlemagne. When a fire consumed it at the edge of the millennium a new Romanesque church started to be built in 1015. Its construction will continue for more than 250 years.

Portail de L'Horloge

The oldest part of the Romanesque building is located on the Southern extremity, and it includes the Portail de L’Horloge, the gate located closest to the Astronomical Clock that I will describe later. The material used for the building from its inception and then in a consequent manner during the centuries is pink sandstone from the Vosges, which gives the whole building an original look and appeal.

The West front

Another singular treat is the fact that the Cathedral has only one tower, which is actually a relatively late (15th century) addition to the West front with its magnificent gates and statues dated in majority from the 13th and 14th centuries.

central gate on the West front

The creation of the central gate is dated 1277 to 1290. The Gothic style took over by that time and replaced the Romanesque style of the first sections.

the kings of the Old Testament

Scores of beautiful statues ornate the Western front. Here are the saints and kings of the Old Testament.

Notre Dame

The cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin Mary – Our Lady, Notre Dame. In 1521 when the Reformation extended on this area the interior of the cathedral was deprived of much of its original decoration. Catholicism was restored during the reign of Louis XIV but one century later during the revolution another wave of iconoclasm led to the irremediable loss of more than 300 statues in the wave of militant anti-Catholicism that followed the French revolution.

inside the cathedral - the nave

Entering the church the feeling is of space, to a larger extent than in many other similar buildings.

stained-glass windows

Some of the stained glass windows date from the 13th century, one of them above representing portraits of the kings of France.

the pulpit

More than 50 statuettes decorate the pulpit designed in Gothic style by Hans Hammer, one of the few valuable parts of the church created during the Reform period (16th century).

the organ

An organ in a beautiful polychrome case dates from the 14th and 15th century.

statuary in the Saint Laurent chapel

There are several beautiful side chapels. One of them is consecrated to Saint Laurent and includes an impressive and complex statuary group representing the crucifixion belonging to the period of the last major renovation of the church in the 19th century.

the choir and the transept

The choir and the transept belong the oldest part of the interior of the church that survived the times. Created around 1200 and perfectly conserved (and probably also renovated) it has a flagrant resemblance to the Byzantine churches in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

the Western rose stained-glass window

The Western wall rose-shaped stained-glass window is of an exquisite, abstract beauty. It was created in the second quarter of the 14th century.

the pillar of the Last Judgment

Another spectacular and original structure is the sculpted pillar representing the Last Judgment created around 1230.

the Astronomical Clock

The visit in the cathedral ends with the Astronomical Clock,  a Renaissance masterpiece combining the crafts of clocks building and some the most advanced scientific elements of these times in fields like mathematics and astronomy. A previous clock named the Clock of the Three Kings existed in the cathedral in the 14th and 15th centuries, but got broken and a new one started to be built in the mid of the 16th century. The sculptures and paintings on the front of the clock already show Baroque influences.

the ecclesiastic clock

The clock is a very complex mechanism build by Swiss masters (many of them from Schaffhausen) and it measures time, keeps a calendar, and makes astronomical computations. The ecclesiastic is activated once a year, in the night of December 31st and performs the astronomic computation according to the rules known at the time to determine the date of Easter.

the aparent time

The apparent time indicates the solar time the relative positions of Earth, Sun and Moon.

solar and moon equations

It is the solar and moon equations mechanical machinery that makes the corrections and determines the correct alignment on the display of the planets positions.

day of the week

Each day of the week has its own symbol.

Overall the astronomic clock is an amazing and complex piece of art and engineering in a period when churches were the center of the spiritual, social and cultural life of the city.