Strasbourg Cathedral

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Strasbourg Cathedral, view from the south
West facade
West facade
Madonna and Child above the main portal of the west facade
Rosette on the western front from the inside
View from the southeast

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg ( French: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg ) is a Roman Catholic church and is one of the most important cathedrals in European architectural history as well as one of the largest sandstone buildings in the world. Like the city of Strasbourg in general, the Liebfrauen - Münster combines German and French cultural influences .

The minster was built from pink Vosges sandstone from 1176 to 1439 on the site of a previous building that had burned down from 1015 to 1028, which in turn replaced a church from Carolingian times that burned down in 1007 . The new building was erected from northeast to southwest and was first built in the Romanesque , then in the Gothic style. From at least 1647 to 1874, the cathedral with its 142-meter-high north tower was the tallest structure in history and the tallest building completed in the Middle Ages . Well-known architects who worked at the cathedral include Erwin von Steinbach and Ulrich Ensinger . The building was damaged by bombardments in 1870 and 1944 , and the figurative decorations and interior fittings were in part considerably damaged in the course of the Reformation iconoclasm , the re-Catholicization of 1681 and the French Revolution . The women's shelter (uvre Notre-Dame) has officially been responsible for the construction and maintenance of the minster since 1281 at the latest (see also Women's Shelter Museum ).

The Strasbourg cathedral, with its characteristic asymmetrical shape (the south tower was never built), is still the symbol of Alsace today . It can also be seen from the German banks of the Rhine , three kilometers away , from the Vosges and the Black Forest (even from Karlsruhe's Turmberg ). His most famous pieces of equipment include the astronomical clock and the " angel pillar ". The pulpit, the baptismal font, the swallow's nest organ as well as the stained glass windows and the tapestries depicting the life of the Virgin Mary are also considered to be excellent examples of Western art.

Numerous important preachers and pastors of both Catholicism and various currents of the Reformation worked at Strasbourg Cathedral, the center of the city's spiritual and religious life . The minster is the episcopal church of the Archdiocese of Strasbourg .

Building history and builder

Previous buildings

South transept

The hill, located in the center of the Illinois Island , south of the intersection of Cardo (today: Rue du Dôme ) and Decumanus (today: Rue des Hallebardes ) of the Roman garrison town of Argentoratum, served as a Temple of Hercules and Mars in ancient times, probably even earlier as a druid sanctuary. As early as the 4th century, a first Christian wooden shrine is said to have been built on the site of the temple ruins. Around 510 King Clovis I had a stone building built, which was enlarged in 675 by Bishop Arbogast under the patronage of the heir to the throne Dagobert . Around 775 the church was extended in the Carolingian style, but in 873 it was largely destroyed by fire. These predecessor buildings of today's minster cannot be archaeologically ascertained, the exact location is unknown.


In 1007 lightning struck the now restored church. The damage was probably repaired first, because it was not until 1015 that Bishop Wernher initiated the construction of an extremely large, three-aisled basilica. This was damaged by several fires, the last one in 1176. The Wernher Minster was renovated and provided with new glass windows. A new building in the late Romanesque style began around 1190. In the summer of 2012, archaeologists excavated a lime kiln of enormous dimensions (7 meters in diameter) at a depth of 3 meters on the occasion of construction work on the palace square (Place du Château) south of the cathedral , which was probably used in the construction of the Wernher Minster, but possibly already dates from the 8th century.

Strasbourg Steinbach.png StrassburgMuenster.jpg
West facade,
design from the
late 13th century.
Actual west facade, built
according to several successive
Nota bene : the proportions of the tower are wrong,
it is actually
10 meters higher than the facade

The crypt was extended to the west and the apse , choir and transept were built , all of which still correspond to the layout of the previous building. This takeover of the foundations of the previous building resulted in irregularities such as the central pillars in the transept that were necessary for a vault. It is unclear which components apart from the foundations were taken over from the Wernher building. Only one pilaster in the northern chapel to the side of the apse and two pilasters in the crypt can be assigned to the Ottonian building. A dating of the entire eastern part of the crypt to the 11th century has been widely discussed and recently questioned. The renovation first included the north and then the south transept, where early Gothic forms gradually established themselves around 1225 under the influence of masters from France.


Around 1245 the nave was built in the new Gothic style. The nave of the Wernher building (and perhaps also a late Romanesque new building that had already begun) was torn down. This part was completed in 1275. On February 2, 1276, the builders laid the foundations, and on May 25, 1277 the foundation stone of the western front of the Strasbourg cathedral. Erwin von Steinbach began on behalf of Bishop Konrad III. von Lichtenberg with the construction of the facade, followed after his death on January 17, 1318 by his son Johannes (his other son Gerlach was meanwhile working on the Niederhaslach collegiate church ). The originally planned two-tower facade was only carried out according to the original design until the so-called rose storey was completed. The tower floors on top already deviated from it. In 1365 the towers were built up to the height of today's platform at 66 meters. Then master Michael von Freiburg connected them in 1383-88 with a bell storey placed in between, so that a uniformly high, cross-bar- like facade block was created. In 1399, under the direction of Ulrich Ensinger, the construction of the octagonal free-standing floors of the northern tower began, on which the Cologne architect Johannes Hältz placed the openwork tower spire from 1429 to 1439, which brought the Strasbourg cathedral to a height of 452 Rhenish feet (142 m). There were repeated plans for the expansion of the south tower, but these were never implemented.

Between 1495 and 1505 the Laurentius portal was built on the north side of the transept , a richly decorated work of the late Gothic period , built by Jakob von Landshut and furnished with life-size figures by Hans von Aachen (1502-03).

18th to 20th century

In the 19th century, master builder Gustave Klotz replaced the Romanesque crossing tower, which was badly damaged by Prussian artillery fire at the end of August 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War, with the much larger one today. In 1875 the choir vault received its splendid painting in the neo-Byzantine style, made by Eduard von Steinle .

During the Second World War, the Strasbourg Cathedral was badly damaged in the air raids of the United States Air Force on Strasbourg on August 11, 1944 and September 25, 1944.

Restoration work

North tower

At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century the north tower leaned increasingly to the east. This threatened the stability of the west facade and the tower threatened to fall on the cathedral. When the foundations were uncovered, the foundations of the Ottonian Wernher Minster were also excavated and it turned out that they had been reused for the new building and had only been reinforced in width - but insufficiently - so that they gave way under the enormous weight of the north tower. When Johannes Knauth (1864–1924) became master builder for the cathedral in 1905, the north tower was in acute danger of collapsing.

In 1910 a competition was announced and the proposal from Eduard Züblin (1850-1916), representative of François Hennebique in Strasbourg, was accepted. After the foundations had been dug down to the Rhine gravel, this gravel was first reinforced with injected concrete . Around the foundation of the sinking south-eastern pillar of the north tower, a five-meter-wide and four-meter-high foundation ring made of reinforced concrete was poured, which was given an additional reinforced concrete casing as an abutment . In the area immediately above the foundation, the historic pillar was surrounded by an approximately 10-meter-high reinforced concrete jacket, which rested on hydraulic presses, which took the entire weight of the pillar and transferred its load exactly evenly to the foundation ring. This made it possible to remove the ailing medieval foundation and put a stable concrete foundation underneath. After this had hardened, the weight of the pillar could be placed on it and the concrete casing that surrounded the pillar removed. This renovation took years and was not completed until the 1920s.

Further restoration work

The east side under construction (2001)

Environmental pollution strongly attacks the sandstone used and makes it brittle. The damage caused by the bombing in August 1944 and damage from the hurricanes of 1999 also hit the building hard. Therefore, extensive restoration had to be carried out in the last few decades. This was done by the French state, which owns the minster, and the minster building foundation, Fondation de l'Œuvre Notre-Dame :

  • Around 1990 and 2008–2010 the crossing tower, its tower and the roof area of ​​the south transept were restored.
  • 1997–1999 the south facade of the westwork,
  • 1999-2009 the tower gradually from the base to the top,
  • 2004–2009 the north aisle,
  • 2004 the choir area inside,
  • 2005-2013 the glass windows of the lower area of ​​the nave and followed
  • 2013 the Katharinenkapelle on the south side. The restoration of the facade of the southern transept began.
Keystone sheet mask (restored) north aisle, around 1240


From the south (2011)
The Romanesque choir closure can only be seen from the inner courtyard of the adjoining building complex.
High Gothic main portal of the west facade
"Harp tracery" of the west facade
inside view

Outline of the building

The Strasbourg cathedral is characterized by the coexistence of a massive, bulky and compact Romanesque east building in the style of the Rhenish imperial cathedrals , with a choir of shallow depth and a very far back transept that practically frames the choir, and a western building in the most flourishing Gothic style, its upward-striving Character finds its expression in the famous “harp tracery ”, a Strasbourg invention. There was no strict eastward orientation . Due to the addition of the huge Grand séminaire , which was built directly behind the cathedral in the 18th century , the view of the apse is blocked, so that it cannot develop an effect on the viewer as in Speyer or Mainz that contrasts with the steeply rising one Tower could increase.

Inside, the above-average wide, if not above-average high, central nave is closed off by a cave-like wall and not, as in purely Gothic buildings such as the neighboring cathedrals of Freiburg and Metz , by a choir section designed to let in light in Austria. This impression is reinforced by the absence of both the rood screen , which was torn down in the 17th century, and the high altar that was erected afterwards and which was crowned with a canopy , both of which shared the room, unlike today. Fragments of the rood screen are now kept in the Women's Refuge Museum and The Cloisters ; Busts of the apostles made of dark-painted linden wood from the former baroque high altar were placed along the choir wall in 2006.

In the south transept is the " angel pillar " or "world judgment pillar ". There are large sculptures on three floors around a high pillar. The angel pillar takes its name from the large figures of trumpet angels on the middle floor. On the top floor, Christ is surrounded by angels, at his feet, barely recognizable, a small group of resurrected people.

The facade cracks of the various planning stages of the west facade are also kept in the women's shelter museum. They are among the oldest architectural designs in German-speaking countries. The west facade, begun in 1277, shows a three-portal structure, the portals with wide walls and high eyelashes studded with pinnacles , at the central portal reaching into the middle floor, where the large rose window adjoins. In front of the masonry of the west facade, a free-standing scaffolding of thin rods and arches decorated with tracery was placed, which, as already mentioned, is referred to as "harp tracery" because of its similarity to harp strings and which is an essential part of the unusual effect of the facade.

In contrast to most cathedrals, the Strasbourg Cathedral has only a small number of chapels : north of the nave, the Laurentius Chapel (15th century), south the Katharinenkapelle (14th century), east of the north transept, the John the Baptist Chapel (13th century), to the east of the south transept, the Andreas chapel (12th century). The nearby sacristy was added in 1744 by the city architect Joseph Massol .

The cathedral has a total of five rosettes : two small ones on the outer wall of the transepts and a large one above the main portal of the west facade.


The internal and external dimensions of the minster are as follows:

  • Total external length: 112 meters
  • Total inner length: 103 meters
  • Interior height of the central nave: 32 meters
  • Inner width of the central nave: 16 meters
  • Interior height of the aisles: 19 meters
  • Width of the west facade: 51.5 meters
  • Height of the west facade: 66 meters
  • Diameter of the facade rosette: 13.6 meters
  • Height of the crossing tower: 58 meters
  • Height of the north tower: 142 meters

Urban integration

The Münsterplatz is one of the most beautiful European city squares. Dominated by the west facade of the minster, there are numerous half - timbered houses , some with four to five storeys, in the style of Alemannic-South German architecture. The steep roofs with up to four attic storeys are characteristic. The well-known, richly decorated Kammerzellhaus stands on the north side of Münsterplatz .

Building plastic

The sculptures of the 13th century are among the most significant, high-quality and impressive sculptures from the German Reich at that time . The focus is on the south transept and the west portals. The late Gothic portal of the northern transept is also noteworthy. Regarding the entire furnishing of the minster with architectural sculpture, it should be noted that many removed or destroyed sculptures were partly replaced by exact copies, but mostly by free replicas in the 19th century.

South transept portal

Pillar of Judgment, Evangelist Matthew, around 1230

Around 1225–1230 a sculptor's workshop came to Strasbourg to equip the existing, still Romanesque, double portal and its two tympanum fields with reliefs and garment figures. The statues of the apostles on the figural vestment were destroyed in the French Revolution , the central figure of Solomon and the lintels with reliefs of the carrying the grave and the Assumption of Mary suffered the same fate, but were replaced by free replenishments in the 19th century. The originals of the statues of Ecclesia and the synagogue have been replaced by copies on the portal, the originals are in the women's shelter museum . The tympana still show the original state with Mary's death and Mary's death . The Madonna under the clock is a 19th century invention.

Pillar of the world judgment

The same workshop created the figure ensemble, often imprecisely named as angel pillar , with the depiction of the Last Judgment around the high central pillar of the hall of the south transept. Art history knows no parallel examples of such an idiosyncratic arrangement of a Last Judgment inside the church. 12 figures are set up on three levels around the octagonal pillar equipped with four services . At the bottom stand the four evangelists with their symbolic animals . Four angels with trumpets follow in the middle level. Above it Christ as the enthroned judge of the world, accompanied by angels who hold (or held) his instruments of suffering .

The sculpture workshop of the south transept

The sculptures of the south transept were created almost simultaneously in a metalworking workshop, whose stonemasons had probably worked in Sens and Chartres (north vault of the cathedral). With it, the Gothic sculpture that originated in the French heartland reached Alsace. The pathos-filled expression and the mobility of the figures, wrapped in finely flowing fabrics, are, however, quite independent and cannot be explained solely from French models. The inventiveness and the subtle way of execution can be traced back to the formative power of a leading master , an artistically outstanding personality. There are related works in France, but none that can be safely assigned to the hands of those working in Strasbourg.

The sculptures on the portals of the west facade

Seducers and Foolish Virgins, south west portal, around 1280–1290

The sculptures on the portals of the west facade were made between 1277 and 1298, but are partly copies of the originals brought to the women's shelter or free additions from the 19th century. The central portal is dedicated to the history of salvation represented in biblical images . There are 14 prophet figures on the walls . The partially renewed tympanum depicts the Passion of Christ in four zones from the entry into Jerusalem at the bottom left to the Ascension of Christ at the top, framed by archivolts with 70 biblical and other scenes (19th century). The Madonna on the Trumeau is such a neo-Gothic substitute.

In the center of the left, north west portal is the childhood story of Jesus (19th century). The garment figures represent the virtues triumphing over vice (copies). On the right, southern portal of the west facade, the ten wise and foolish virgins , led by Christ on the right, and the “Prince of the World”, a worldly seductive figure whose back is covered by nauseating creatures, occupy the robe. They come from the most important sculptor on the west portals, whose style shows that he was previously involved in the Stephen portal of the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral . In the base of these statues, depictions of the month and zodiac motifs are framed by quatrains . The tympanum with the Last Judgment and the archivolts are again works of the 19th century.

Window and sunlight

Catherine Chapel

Twice a year, around the time of the equinox , a "green ray" can be observed in sunlight at noon, which falls through a green segment (foot of the ancestor Judah) in a stained glass window of the southern triforium and creates a spot of light on the floor. Moving on with the course of the sun, the light spot, following an arched course, reaches the canopy above the crucifixion on the late Gothic pulpit in the nave.

Contrary to popular belief, this is not a medieval astrological symbol, but a modern, purely coincidental phenomenon. The green piece of glass at the foot of King Judah through which the light beam falls does not come from the Middle Ages, but, like all glass windows in the south triforium, was completely re-glazed in this area in the years 1872 to 1878. The light beam falling through this piece of glass only became around a hundred Observed years after the new glazing, namely around 1972. The explanation lies in the fact that it was only at this time that the glass had become so transparent that - unlike the other, darker panes of glass - a ray of sunshine could penetrate this pane. The cause was either the weather-related loss of the painting on the piece of glass or an undocumented repair of the window with greenish, clear glass. Exact timekeeping also shows that the ray of light does not reach the point above the head of Christ crucified until one or two days after the spring and autumn equinox. The occurrence of the phenomenon by chance would therefore be proven, but the symbolic interpretation has spread among many visitors to the cathedral.

A study by Oliver Wießmann published in May 2018, which deals in detail with the green ray in the intellectual-historical spectrum of the Strasbourg cathedral, comes to the result, on 355 pages, that the green ray of light represents a deliberate staging. When reconstructing the windows of the south triforium in 1872, the master builder Gustave Klotz followed the old plans of the now lost master builder archive. Already in the historical elevation of the pulpit from 1484 the arc of a circle, which the green beam describes over the pulpit figures, was designed. That is why the elevation appears strangely compressed to today's observer. The ray itself is to be understood as the heavenly ladder on which King Judah stands. Another ray of light also shines on the canopy over the figure of Christ at the time of the winter solstice .


Christ on the Mount of Olives
Tapestry “ Wedding at Cana ” from the life of Mary

The equipment includes:

  • Leaded glass windows , mostly 14th century, some late 12th century (north transept) and 13th century ("Kaiserfenster" in north aisle), some 20th century (south transept, choir). Window from the former Dominican church in the Laurentiuskapelle and in the Andreaskapelle.
  • Tomb of Konrad von Lichtenberg in the Johannes-der-Täufer-Chapel, around 1300. Opposite: monument of a canon by Niclas Gerhaert van Leyden (1464).
  • Ornate baptismal font by Jodok Dotzinger in the north transept, 1453
  • Ornate pulpit by Hans Hammer northeast of the nave, 1486
  • Sculpture group " Christ on the Mount of Olives " in the north transept opposite the baptismal font (previously in the St. Thomas Church ), 1498
  • Busts of the apostles from the former high altar along the choir wall, wood, 17th century
  • Tapestries “ Marienleben ”, Paris, 17th century, acquired by the cathedral chapter in the 18th century
  • Altars in the chapels (15th to 19th centuries, large baroque altar from 1698, painted in 1776, in the Laurentius Chapel)
  • Eucharius Dorsch tomb in the cloister with group scene similar to a dance of the dead, approx. 1480, both destroyed in 1715

Astronomical clock

The astronomical clock in the south transept is remarkable . Its forerunner, the so-called “Dreikönigsuhr”, was completed in 1353 and stood on the western wall opposite today's clock. She already had a calendar, displays for the stars and the three wise men as moving figures, who bowed their heads in front of the Virgin Mary at every hour to a carillon. From this clock only the moving figure of a rooster flapping its wings is preserved today. In the west wall of the transept, old support stones indicate the location of the clock.

Astronomical clock, to the left of it the "angel pillar"

In 1567 the city council decided to build a new clock. The three mathematicians Michael Herr, Christian Herrlin and Nikolaus Prugner were commissioned with the construction, but their design was never carried out. It was only Conrad Dasypodius , also a professor of mathematics and a student of Herrlin, who created the final plan, which was carried out by the brothers Josias and Isaak Habrecht . The clock, already provided with astronomical displays, calendar and planetarium, was completed in 1574 and ran until 1789. The clock case and some of the paintings come from this clock.

After almost 50 years of inactivity, the city ​​council commissioned Jean-Baptiste Schwilgué to carry out the renovation in 1836 . Work on the clock began on June 24, 1838 and lasted until 1842. Schwilgué constructed a completely new clockwork whose functions are unique in the world. The watch shows the orbit of the earth, the moon and the orbits of the planets Mercury to Saturn. What is most astonishing is the mechanism that runs on New Year's Eve and calculates the base date for the moving holidays. The record for slowly rotating gears is probably set by the part of the clock that reproduces the precession of the earth's axis - one revolution in 25,800 years. But it is also the only clock in the world that strikes 1 p.m.

A replica of the clock is in the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney .


Nave organ with its preserved Gothic case

There are three organs in the Strasbourg cathedral .

Main organ

The nave organ on the north side of the second central nave is a swallow's nest organ and has the function of the main organ. The instrument is in a Gothic organ prospect from 1385, which originally contained the 2,602 pipe work created by Andreas Silbermann in 1716 . The until then hardly modified instrument was radically rebuilt in 1897 by organ builder Heinrich Koulen in the romantic style and connected to the choir organ by means of an electro-pneumatic action . This conversion was not convincing, so in 1935 another new plant was created by E. A. Roethinger. The key actions of this already slightly neoclassical organ were now mechanical with Barker machines for Récit, Grand Orgue and Pédale, but the Rückpositiv remained pneumatic. In 1981 Alfred Kern built the technically completely redesigned, fully mechanical organ that is in existence today using almost all of the existing pipes. The action is hanging.

I positive C – g 3
1. Montre 8th'
2. Bourdon 8th'
3. Prestant 4 ′
4th Flûte à cheminée 0 4 ′
5. Nazard 2 23
6th Duplicate 2 ′
7th Tierce 1 35
8th. Larigot 1 13
9. Fittings III 1 13
10. Cymbals III 23
11. Trumpets 8th'
12. Clairon 4 ′
13. Cromorne 8th'
II Grand Orgue C-g 3

14th Bourdon 16 ′
15th Montre 08th'
16. Bourdon 08th'
17th Prestant 04 ′
18th Nazard 02 33
19th Duplicate 02 ′
20th Tierce 01 35
21st Cornet V 08th'
22nd Grande Fourniture II 02 ′
23. Petite Fittings IV 01 23
24. Cymbals III 023
25th 1 e trumpet 08th'
26th 2 e trumpets 08th'
27. Clairon 04 ′
28. Voix humaine 08th'
III Recit C-g 3
29 Salicional 8th'
30th Bourdon 8th'
31. Prestant 4 ′
32. Duplicate 2 ′
33. Sifflet 1'
34. Cymbals III 23
35. Cornet III 2 23
36. Trumpets 8th'
37. Voix humaine 0 8th'
38. Hautbois 4 ′
Pedal C – f 1
39. Montre 16 ′
40. Soubasse 16 ′
41. Fifth 10 23
42. Flute 08th'
43. Flute 04 ′
44. Contre-Basson 0 32 ′
45. Bombard 16 ′
46. Trumpets 08th'
47. Clairon 04 ′
  • Coupling : I / II, III / II, I / P, II / P, III / P

Choir organ

Choir organ

In the choir, on the north side, is the choir organ , which was created by Joseph Merklin in 1878 . Since then, the instrument has been seriously rebuilt several times, so that little of the original sound substance remains. Since the last modifications by Daniel Kern in 1989, it has 24 stops on three manuals and a pedal with mechanical action.

I Grand Orgue C-g 3
1. Bourdon 16 ′
2. Montre 8th'
3. Bourdon 8th'
4th Prestant 4 ′
5. Duplicate 2 ′
6th Fittings
7th Cymbals
8th. Trumpets 8th'
Positif intérieur C – g 3
9. Principal 8th'
10. Flûte à chimney 8th'
11. Salicional 8th'
12. Voix Celeste 8th'
13. Prestant 4 ′
14th Flûte à chimney 4 ′
15th Flageolet 2 ′
16. Carillon II
17th Basson-Hautbois 8th'
Récit expressif C – g 3
18th Flûte Harmonique 8th'
19th Flute 4 ′
20th Trumpets 8th'
21st Clairon 4 ′
Pedale C – f 1
22nd Soubasse 16 ′
23. Octavebasse 8th'
24. Bombard 16 ′
  • Coupling : II / I, I / P, II / P, III / P

In the crypt there is a small instrument that was created by Gaston Kern in 1998. The purely mechanical organ has eight stops on two manuals and a pedal.

View into the bell chamber
Look at the clock bells
Partial bell of the Notre Dame de Strasbourg cathedral; July 9, 2000


Before the French Revolution, 13 church bells hung in the cathedral . The town bells and clock bells hung in the tower, the church bells in the central part of the facade. Six bells could be preserved at that time, including the large Holy Spirit or Death Bell, cast in 1427 (also called le bourdon or le grand bourdon ). It is the work of master Hans Gremp and weighs around 8,500 kilograms. Their inscription reads:

"Anno D [omi] ni MCCCCXXVII mense julii fusa sum per magistrum Joannem de Argentina - nuncio festa, metum, nova quædam, flebile læthum."
("In the year of the Lord 1427 in the month of July I was cast by Master Johann from Strasbourg. I proclaim festive days, fear, a lot of news, mournful death.")

What remains is the so-called ten - bell ' , which rings every evening from 10 p.m. and does not belong to the main bell, as well as four clock- striking bells, of which the two smaller bells alternately indicate the quarter of an hour and the two larger indicate the number of hours on the hour.

In 1975 and 1977 seven bells were cast in the Heidelberg bell foundry and complement the Gremp'sche bell. Since then, the Strasbourg cathedral bell has been one of the most beautiful bells in Europe. From 1978 onwards, many experts, including the then Cologne bell expert Jakob Schaeben, spoke of a "sound miracle" . The bell was designed by the bell experts Abbé Jean Ringue and Hans Rolli . In 1987, 1993 and 2004 three more bells were added; the apostle bell from 1977 had to be cast in 2006. In 2014, four more bells were added for the crossing tower.

The sixteen ringing bells now form the most extensive ringing in France and together with the four clock bells one of the heaviest bell ensembles in the country.

The table below lists all bells, sorted according to the numbering of the ringing order .

Casting year
Foundry, casting location
( HT - 1 / 16 )
01 Holy Spirit bell, death bell (le grand bourdon) 1427 Hans Gremp , Strasbourg 2,220 ≈8,500 as 0 0 +6 Mittelbau
02 St. John's Bell (le petit bourdon) 1977 Heidelberg bell foundry 1,749 3,896 b 0 +4 00
03 St. Mary's Bell 1975 1,456 2,307 of 1 +6
04th Hll. Apostle bell (St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Thomas and St. Mark) 2006 Bell foundry André Voegelé , Strasbourg and brother Michael, Maria Laach 1,305 1,605 it 1 0 +8
05 Hll. Martyrs bell (St. Laurentius, St. Stephan, St. Modeste Andlauer and St. André Bauer) 1977 Heidelberg bell foundry 1,205 1,278 f 1 +6 00
06th Hll. Pope and bishop bells (St. Pope Leo IX, St. Amandus, St. Arbogast, St. Martin and St. Boniface) 1,123 1,122 as 1 0 +8
07th Hll. Monk Bell (St. Benedict, St. Columban, St. Pirmin and St. Bernhard) 1.006 795 b 1 +7 00
08th Hll. Women's bell (St. Odilia, St. Attala, St. Elizabeth of Hungary and St. Mary Magdalene) 898 571 c 2 +6 00
09 Ten bell ' 1786 Matthew Ⅲ. Edel , Strasbourg 1,580 ≈2,450 ces 1 +3
10 Holy Cross bell 1987 Karlsruhe bell and art foundry 1,137 1,052 ges 1 +6
11 Peace bell 2004 Bachert bell foundry , Karlsruhe 727 304 it 20 +9 Crossing tower
12 Hll. Angel and Archangel bell 1993 Karlsruhe bell and art foundry 558 153 as 2 0 +8
13 Hll. Maternus, Fridolinus, Morandus and Deodatus bells 2014 Bell foundry André Voegelé, Strasbourg, and brother Michael, Maria Laach 104 b 2 0
14th Hll. Eugenia, Aurelia, Brigitta and Walburga bells 84 c 3 0
15th Hll. Florentius, Ludanus, Amarinus and Landelinus bells 73 of the 3rd 0
16 Hll. Adelheidis, Richardis, Irmgardis and Kunigundis bells 55 it 3 0
I. Hour look-up bell 1595 Johann Jakob Miller , Strasbourg 5,285 h 0 North tower
II Hour bell 1691 Jean Rosier and César Bonbon 2,100 c 1
III Big quarter-hour bell 1787 Matthew III. Edel, Strasbourg 778 ges 1
IV Small quarter-hour bell 423 b 1

Historical events

Protestant iconoclasm

In the late Middle Ages , the city ​​of Strasbourg managed to free itself from the rule of the bishop and to become a Free Imperial City . The late 15th century was shaped by the sermons of Johann Geiler von Kaysersberg and the emerging Reformation . In 1524 the city council assigned the cathedral to the Protestant faith, and the building suffered some iconoclastic damage. In 1539, the world's first documented Christmas tree was erected in the cathedral .

French reunion policy

After the occupation of the city as part of the reunion policy of Louis XIV on September 30, 1681, the cathedral was returned to the Catholics, the interior of the church was redesigned according to the Catholic liturgy and the rood screen from 1252 was broken out in 1682 to expand the choir in the direction of the nave. A mass was held in the cathedral in the presence of Prince-Bishop Franz Egon von Fürstenberg and Ludwig XIV.

French Revolution

During the French Revolution , numerous portal and facade statues of the cathedral were damaged or destroyed and have since been replaced by copies. From Enragés from the vicinity of Eulogius Schneider end of April came the proposal, the North Tower as a symbol of clerical arrogance and violation of the principle of equality in 1794 (Egalite) tear. The citizens of Strasbourg opposed this by crowning the north tower with a huge Phrygian cap made of painted sheet metal in mid-May . This was later kept in the city museum and destroyed by Prussian artillery fire during the siege of Strasbourg in September 1870 .

Second World War

During the Second World War , the cathedral became a symbol for both parties. Adolf Hitler , who visited it on June 28, 1940, wanted to turn the sacred building into a "national shrine of the German people". On March 2, 1941 Major General Leclerc and the soldiers of his division in Kufra (in Libya ) swore that they would “only lay down their arms when our beautiful colors waft again on the Strasbourg Cathedral” (“Le serment de Koufra”, The Oath of Koufra). They fulfilled this vow on November 23, 1944. On August 11, 1944, the building suffered damage when it was hit by British and American aerial bombs. These were not finally repaired until 1990. In 1956, the Council of Europe donated Max Ingrand's famous choir window , which " Strasbourg Madonna ”.

Creation of the Archdiocese of Strasbourg

As part of a solemn visit, Pope John Paul II elevated the diocese of Strasbourg to an archdiocese in October 1988 .

Islamist assassination plan

In 2000, a group of Algerian Islamists was arrested in Frankfurt am Main who planned to carry out an attack on the Christmas market in front of the cathedral.

Musical appreciation

In 2014, the American composer Spencer Topel wrote a nearly half-hour work for chamber orchestra , Details on the Strasbourg Rosace , which has been performed several times since then.

Personalities who worked at the cathedral

Famous visitors

Among others, Victor Hugo and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe , who was inspired by his visit to the cathedral to write his work “ Von deutscher Baukunst ” (1772), expressed their admiration for the upward vigor of his architecture.

Tower ascent

West panoramic view from the tower platform

The tower platform at a height of 66 m can be accessed via a spiral stone in the southern tower foundation; the exit takes place in the north tower foundation. Even Voltaire and the young Goethe had made this climb and carved their names in the right corner above the entrance to the clock tower and the south-eastern corner towers of the north tower. When the visibility is good, the view extends in the east to the Black Forest , the mountains near Baden-Baden to the Blauen , in the west and north to the Vosges and the Odilienberg, and in the south to the Kaiserstuhl rising from the plain and, in the distance, the Jura .

In earlier times, at least until 1942, the north tower could even be climbed to below the top of the tower via one of the four corner towers. You first got to the passage between the corner turrets (106 m), which remained accessible for many years after the Second World War, and then to the lantern below the spire.

“July 20th [1824]. Now we climbed the tower to the platform, where there is an incomparable overview of Alsace, the Black Forest and the Vosges and where you can see the completed tower really close, a marvel of bold and beautiful execution. Kerll thought everything was so beyond his expectation and, without the rest of us thinking about it, fell upon Hirt's remark that this was all barbarism, so terribly that it was a pleasure. We climbed the over 100-foot spiral staircase in the completely openwork towers up to the top, Kerll fortunately overcame a feeling of dizziness and did everything as well as we did, Fat Brandt climbed even higher into the little octagons, which form the top, but the stairs became too narrow and did not let his body through. Above all, I was astonished again in front of the construction of the tip, whose slanting stone masses seem to have almost no abutment. The sight inside these masses of stone, united in a point, is most surprising. At the point where this point begins, the tower is arched again. Large stone slabs rest horizontally on the ridges of this artificial vault, on which one walks under the top and overlooks the upper structure very nicely. Even the most beautiful free-standing pillars and ornaments give, through the solidity of the stone, the chart character of complete trust in its solidity. How much different is it at Cologne Cathedral, where danger threatens everywhere and you don't feel safe anywhere. When we went back down to the platform, which is already 300 feet above the city, we fortified ourselves with beer, which is served up here. This magnificent lofty stone square is not at all just dedicated to ecclesiastical purposes, it is a general entertainment venue. Everywhere in the beautiful balconies that have been built out, stone tables and stone banks are built in for happy feasts. There are evening parties with dancing and other merrymaking up here, and if you are happy about old Erwin von Steinbach, the work becomes a real monument. "

- Karl Friedrich Schinkel , June 30, 1824, Two Gothic mines in Strasbourg and Freiburg

Illumination of the west facade

West facade at the Spectacle son et lumlère

As part of the Spectacle Son et Lumière (German: "Klang- und Lichtvorführung") in July and August, when it is dark in the evening, the facade is illuminated in a wide variety of colors, with spotlights of different light intensities from changing angles, point-like or wave-like, areally. As a result, structures emerge from the overall work that are otherwise hardly noticeable. Columns , frameworks , round or pointed arches are individually visible and can be recognized in their connection with one another.


in alphabetical order by authors / editors


  • Sabine Bengel, Marie-José Nohlen, Stéphane Potier: Builders of a cathedral - 1000 years of Strasbourg Cathedral . Publishing house Nünnerich-Asmus, Oppenheim am Rhein 2019, ISBN 978-3-96176-085-5 . German translation of the French original edition Bâtisseurs de cathédrales - Strasbourg mille ans de chantiers . La Nuée bleue publishing house, Strasbourg 2014, ISBN 978-2-8099-1251-7 .
  • Victor Beyer: The Strasbourg Cathedral. Stained glass from an important church . Verlag Josef Hannesschläger, Augsburg 1969.
  • Benoît van den Bossche: Strasbourg, the cathedral . Photographs by Claude Sauvageot. Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2001, ISBN 3-7954-1387-7 . From the former publishing house of the monks ( memento of April 29, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) in Saint-Léger-Vauban , Yonne department , Bourgogne region ( Burgundy ), review and table of contents (PDF; 39 kB).
  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe : From German architecture . In: Of German Art and Art. Some flying leaves . DM Ervini a Steinbach, Hamburg 1773.
  • Louis Grodecki : The Strasbourg Cathedral and the Upper Rhine . In: Romanesque stained glass . Kohlhammer-Verlag, Stuttgart 1977, ISBN 3-17-004433-8 , pp. 168-183.
  • Reinhard Liess : Goethe in front of the Strasbourg cathedral. On the scientific image of art (= Seemann's contributions to art history ). Seemann, Leipzig 1985 (285 pages).
  • Reinhard Liess: The facade of the Strasbourg cathedral in the light. A forgotten reality of medieval architecture and sculpture . In: Hans-Caspar Graf Bothmer u. a. (Ed.): Festschrift for Lorenz Dittmann . Frankfurt a. Main 1994, pp. 223-255.
  • Reinhard Liess: On the design unit of the Strasbourg cathedral facade. Architecture and sculpture (= Bulletin de la Cathédrale de Strasbourg , XXIV). Strasbourg 2000, pp. 23-118.
  • HB (Ed.): Art guide Strasbourg - Colmar - Alsace . 1986, ISBN 3-616-06560-8 , corrected ISBN 3-616-06520-8 .
  • Wilhelm Heinse : To the Strasbourg cathedral. In: Records 1768–1783. Texts (The records. Frankfurter Nachlass, edited by Markus Bernauer et al., Vol. I.) Munich 2003, pp. 446–450 (commentary on this in: Vol. III, pp. 402–403).
  • Roland Kaltenbach: Le guide de l'Alsace . La Manufacture 1992, ISBN 2-7377-0308-5 .
  • Harald Keller : The Angel Pillar in Strasbourg Cathedral . Reclam-Verlag, Stuttgart 1957.
  • NN : Merveilleuses cathédrales de France . Agence Internationale d'édition Jean F. Gonthier 1981, ISBN 2-85961-122-3 .
  • August Raichle: The cathedral in Strasbourg (= The small art book ). With an introduction by Alfred Stange . Knorr & Hirth-Verlag, Ulm 1954.
  • Roland right: The Strasbourg cathedral. Stuttgart 1971.
  • Roland right u. a .: Connaître Strasbourg . 1988, ISBN 2-7032-0185-0
  • Jean Ringue: La nouvelle sonnerie de la cathédrale de Strasbourg . 1980.
  • Jean-Sébastien Sauvé: The Bern crack by Matthäus Ensinger for the Strasbourg cathedral facade . In: Insitu. Zeitschrift für Architekturgeschichte 5, 2013, No. 1, pp. 5–16.
  • Adam Walther Strobel : The cathedral in Strasbourg historically and according to its parts . 10th edition, Strasbourg 1871 ( full text online ).
  • Ferdinand Werner : The long way to new building . Volume 1: Concrete: 43 men invent the future . Wernersche Verlagsgesellschaft, Worms 2016, ISBN 978-3-88462-372-5 .

Astronomical clock

  • Henri Bach, Jean-Pierre Rieb, Robert Wilhelm: The three astronomical clocks of the Strasbourg cathedral . Editions Ronald Hirlé, Strasbourg 1992, ISBN 3-7946-0297-8 .
  • Conrad Dasypodius : Full laying out of the astronomical clockwork in Strasbourg . Strasbourg 1578.
  • Roger Lehni: The Astronomical Clock of the Strasbourg Cathedral . Éditions la goélette, Saint-Ouen 2011, ISBN 2-906880-18-3 .


  • The Cathedral. Master builder of the Strasbourg Cathedral (Le Défi des Bâtisseurs. La Cathédrale de Strasbourg). Documentary in 3D with computer-aided animations, docu-drama and interviews, Germany, France, 2012, 89 min., Script and director: Marc Jampolsky, production: Seppia Film, ZDF , arte , Indi Film, CFRT Binocle, series: Menschheitsträume in 3D , First broadcast: December 15, 2012 on arte, bonus film Le Making-of , 20 min., (French); Film data with preview, 2:40 min. (German)

Web links

Commons : Strasbourg Cathedral  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. This structural damage - contrary to what is often rumored - had nothing to do with the straightening of the Rhine , which was completed in 1876 under Johann Gottfried Tulla . As early as 1661 it was determined that the oak posts on which the foundation rested were largely rotten (Werner, p. 286).

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Appendix by Argentoratum in the 4th century: Histoire de Strasbourg: quand Strasbourg était Argentorate. In: B&S Editions - Encyclopédie , 2010, (French).
  2. ^ Nicolas Hecquet: Les fouilles archéologiques enfin dévoilées. In: , August 29, 2012, (French);
    Benjamin Bouguignon: Strasbourg: les fouilles révèlent des fresques romaines. ( Memento from February 13, 2013 in the web archive ). In: , August 31, 2012, (French).
  3. Hans-Adalbert von Stockhausen: The first draft of the Strasbourg bell storey and its artistic basis. In: Marburger Jahrbuch für Kunstwissenschaft , 11./12. Vol., (1938-1939), pp. 579-618, online , (subject to registration).
  4. Photo series and site plan: Hultz monument in Strasbourg (Statue de Jean Hultz) in: , (French)
  5. Christine Kratzke, Uwe Albrecht (Ed.): Micro-architecture in the Middle Ages. A cross-genre phenomenon between reality and imagination. Contributions to the conference of the same name in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg from October 26th to 29th, 2005. Leipzig 2008, p. 53 .
  6. ^ Eugène Riedweg: Strasbourg, ville occupée 1939–1945. La vie quotidienne dans la capitale de l'Alsace durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale . Éditions du Rhin, Steinbrunn-le-Haut 1982, ISBN 2-86339-009-0 , pp. 131-132.
  7. Werner, p. 286.
  8. Werner, p. 286.
  9. 48 ° 34 ′ 56 ″  N , 7 ° 45 ′ 7 ″  E
  10. ^ Strasbourg Cathedral. # 2. Building design. ( Memento of April 8, 2014 in the Internet Archive ). In: .
  11. ^ Strasbourg Cathedral. In: arch INFORM .
  12. ↑ The source for these reconstructions was an engraving by Isaak Bruun from 1617, illustrated by Sauerländer, Gotische Plastik, p. 125.
  13. ^ Ilona Dudziński: La (r) évolution gothique? - New results of the historical building research on the south transept portal of the Strasbourg cathedral . In: Insitu - Zeitschrift für Architekturgeschichte 11, 2019, No. 1, pp. 23–40.
       Ilona Dudziński: The portal of the southern transept of the Strasbourg cathedral. In: Société des Amis de la Cathédrale de Strasbourg , July 13, 2018: "... Integration of the two (still original) Tympana and the partially supplemented lintels ..."
  14. ^ Willibald Sauerländer : From Sens to Strasbourg. A contribution to the art-historical position of the Strasbourg transept sculptures. Walter De Gruyter, Berlin 1966, pp. 68ff., Limited preview in the Google book search.
  15. Maurice Rosart: Le Rayon Vert. ( Memento from April 18, 2016 in the Internet Archive ). In: , 28 August 2014, only in French.
  16. Some of the innumerable references to the phenomenon: dpa : “Green ray” in the Strasbourg cathedral , March 18, 2011.
    (ud): Mystical green glow in the old church , in: Color impulses , March 16, 2011.
    Le rayon vert de la cathédrale de Strasbourg , in: , March 22, 2020, with photo series, (French).
  17. Oliver Wießmann, Der Grüne Strahl in the Strasbourg Liebfrauenmünster , Leipzig 2018, ISBN 978-3-943539-75-2 .
  18. Confronted arguments: coincidence or intent? In: , 2018.
  19. Jodok Dotzinger's font in the base Palissy of the French Ministry of Culture , see also photo: inscriptions on the base in Wikimedia Commons .
  20. Hans Georg Wehrens: The dance of death in the Alemannic language area. "I have to do it - and don't know what". Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-7954-2563-0 ; Pp. 79-80.
  21. a b c The Strasbourg cathedral and its astronomical clock . Alsatia-Verlag, Kolmar i. Els. Around 1939. pp. 38-40.
  22. ^ Karl Baedeker: Strasbourg . Freiburg 1973, p. 33.
  23. The Gothic nave organ. ( Memento of April 7, 2016 in the Internet Archive ). In: , June 12, 2013.
  24. Information on the organ. In: , (French).
  25. ^ The choir organ by Joseph Merklin. ( Memento of March 3, 2016 in the Internet Archive ). In: .
  26. The crypt organ. ( Memento of September 21, 2019 in the Internet Archive ). In: , 2014.
  27. Le Bourdon soloist (2:17 min) on YouTube , January 6, 2009.
  28. Zehnerglock solo (7:02) on YouTube , June 23, 2010.
  29. Ringing as 0 –b 0 –des 1 –es 1 –f 1 –as 1 –b 1 –c 2 (3:59 min) on YouTube , May 26, 2008.
  30. Jakob Schaeben: The sound miracle of the new cathedral bells in Strasbourg . In: Kurt Kramer: Bells in the past and present . Vol. 1, Badenia, Karlsruhe 1986, ISBN 3-7617-0238-8 , pp. 87-92.
  31. ^ Jean Ringue (1922–2009), campanologue de la Cathédrale
  32. ^ Rodolphe Reuss: La Cathédrale de Strasbourg pendant la Révolution. (1789–1802) , 337 pages, (French)
  33. The artilleryman Johann (Hans) Christian Henn from Hertingen in Markgräflerland received special praise for this.
  34. ^ Nazi Germany in Alsace. ( Memento from February 19, 2012 in the Internet Archive ). In: , 2000.
  35. Rémi Porte: Le serment de Koufra, 2 mars 1941. In: Fondation Maréchal Leclerc , p. 3, (PDF; 313 kB), with photo of the oath stone.
  36. ^ Strasbourg. In: Fondation Maréchal Leclerc .
  37. ^ Judgment against Strasbourg Islamists. With a pressure cooker bomb against the "enemies of God". In: Der Spiegel , March 10, 2003.
  38. Details on the Strasbourg Rosace on , accessed on May 16, 2020.
  39. A lightning strike in 1778 broke the stone on which Voltaire had engraved his name. Only the syllable "taire" remained (C. Baedeker: Le Rhin de Bâle à Dusseldorf . Coblence 1852, p. 12).
  40. ^ Karl Baedeker: Strasbourg . Freiburg 1973, p. 35.
  41. Baedeker's travel guide: France from Flanders to Corsica . Stuttgart 1963, 4th edition, p. 406.
  42. ^ Karl Baedeker: The Alsace. Strasbourg and the Vosges . Leipzig 1942, p. 22.
  43. ^ Karl Friedrich Schinkel : Travel to Italy. Second journey 1824 . Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin and Weimar 1994, ISBN 3-351-02269-7 , p. 39.
before Tallest building in the world after that
Marienkirche in Stralsund (142 m)
St. Nikolai in Hamburg

Coordinates: 48 ° 34 ′ 54 ″  N , 7 ° 45 ′ 3 ″  E