Cathédrale de Strasbourg

“Cathédrale de Strasbourg”, Cathedral of Strasbourg, 2011.

A specificity of the cathedral of Strasbourg is that it keeps its old Romanesque chore. Despite several projects to rebuild a Gothic chore, it never happens, due to the presence of the clergy houses behind: clergymen didn’t allowed the construction of the new chore, because it would have implied the destruction of their own houses! It results in a strange paradox: as the ancient chore isn’t a big one, the overall length of the cathedral is rather small, while the nave is one of the longest in France. It also gives the cathedral East-parts a distinctive look, very massive, with few light, as there is only few and rather small windows in this area.

The paintings of the chore imitate the Byzantine style, they have been painted by Steinlé and Steinheil in 1875. The central glass-windows was gifted by the European Council in 1956 to replace the one destroyed by the Americans in 1944 ; it had been realized by Max Ingand and represent the traditional Virgin with spread arms (which was already the protective symbol of the city in the Middle Ages), associated with the stars of the European flag.

Although the nave looks very homogeneous at the first glance (and even with more attention), it isn’t. One and a half bays were build, then there has been a long pause in the work, caused by the war between the city and the bishop. After the bishop finally lost the war, the city took the direction of the project. The work then resumed, but the plans were changed and the following bays are different, shorter and with different ornaments.

On a side note, the flag in the chore is there for the National Day, because in Alsace and Moselle it is mandatory to celebrate the Sunday before the National Day a mass for the salvation of the Republic (Domine, salvam fac rem publicam, “Lord, save the Republic”). This obligation comes from the law of Concordat from 1801, although it has been abrogated in 1905 in France, Alsace and Moselle were at this time parts of the German Empire ; when France annexed those regions, the law wasn’t changed and is still in use today, along with some other law promulgated by the German Empire. Reformed churches and Jews have the same obligations, but other religions aren’t concerned, as they weren’t part of the original law of 1801.

This has been a difficult picture to take. In the first place because it’s hard to get the cathedral without tons of people in it. When I took this pic, the cathedral was still opened early in the morning so it wasn’t too difficult, I had just to come at the opening, but today it opens later and thus there is way more people crowding the inside.

Secondly, because Catholic Church has for a long time divorced with the good taste: here like in lot of churches there is tons of ugly furnitures, screens, panels everywhere. On this picture the pillar at the right isn’t the real one: I had to draw it in order to erase an ugly panel, which was standing in the way. I’ve managed to avoid to have the screens on the picture but there is still another panel on left, those blue ribbons, without talking about the banks in the middle of the way.

Thirdly, because this cathedral is very dark inside, leading to serious problems to get correct exposure on both the windows and the rest of the building, even with hdr (the problem with hdr is that you can’t usually use a tripod inside the cathedral). I had then to take another picture of the central windows with a correct exposure to paste it in the original one where it was overexposed.

Available as a print here!

Tools and exifs:

  • Canon EOS 450D + Canon 18-55mm
  • 29mm
  • 1.3 s.
  • f/8
  • ISO 400

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