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  • I welcome you to the grand Strasbourg Cathedral. "Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg" is

  • widely known as one of the most beautiful gothic cathedrals in all of Europe. Standing

  • at the heart of the historical center of Strasbourg, the superb cathedral dominates the cityscape

  • with its massive height of 142 meters. The cathedral is today the sixth tallest in its

  • class, and was the worlds tallest building for more than 200 years. This "gigantic and

  • delicate marvel", as the writer Victor Hugo described it, can be seen all the way from

  • the Vosges Mountains in the southwest to the Black Forest on the other side of the Rhine.

  • The site of the current cathedral has for a long time been the location for religious

  • buildings. At first, a Roman temple, dating back to the Roman occupation, was built on

  • this site. Later, in the 7th century, the bishop of Strasbourg had a cathedral, dedicated

  • to the Virgin Mary, built on the site. This cathedral was later replaced with a larger

  • one, completed under the reign of Charlemagne. This cathedral caught fire several times but

  • survived until year 1007, when it was totally engulfed by flames during a large fire. The

  • new cathedral built on site stood around 150 years, until it also was destroyed during

  • by fire as the naves were covered with a wooden framework. After this disaster, it was decided

  • that a new, even grander, cathedral would be built. This time the foundation of the

  • cathedral would not include any wooden framework. This was probably a wise decision, as this

  • new cathedral is the one still standing today. The construction of the current Strasbourg

  • Cathedral began in 1176 and finished almost 250 years later. The cathedral started as

  • a typical Romanesque cathedral; a rather simple architectural style with basic shapes. As

  • time passed and the construction continued, the wave of gothic architecture which swept

  • over Europe also affected Strasbourg cathedral. The result is what you can see today; an architectural

  • style with many arches, spires and detailed sculptures. The typical sign of gothic architecture

  • is that many features on the building, be it smaller details or the building itself,

  • point upwards towards the sky. This was seen as a way of trying to reach up and connect

  • with heaven. Another thing that stands out is the pink hue of the cathedral. This is

  • due to the fact that the cathedral is built using sandstone from the Vosges, which has

  • this red-pinkish color. The cathedral is also highly unique due to

  • the fact that it only has one spire. The north spire was completed in 1439, but the planned

  • south spire was never built. Why the south spire never got built is still under debate.

  • What is known however is that the single spire of the Strasbourg Cathedral quickly became

  • a landmark of the region, which is probably one of the reasons they keep it in its asymmetrical

  • form. Today, the Strasbourg Cathedral is a Roman

  • Catholic cathedral. During the Reformation in early 16th century, the cathedral became

  • a Protestant church and remained that way for more than 150 years. After the incorporation

  • of Strasburg into France in 1681, the cathedral was returned to the Catholics and dedicated

  • to the Virgin Mary. During the French revolution, the cathedral,

  • together with many other religious buildings, became the target of the revolutionists' anger.

  • The new regime had plans to tear down the single spire, as it "hurt the principle of

  • equality". When the citizens of Strasbourg heard about the plan, they placed a large

  • Phrygian cap over the spire, the cap which was a symbol of the revolution. This flattery

  • obviously worked, as the spire was saved and still stands glorious today.

  • While the outside of the cathedral is magnificent, one shouldn't forget its inside. Inside you

  • will find a most striking vault, the grand organ, the beautifully sculptured pulpit and

  • more. The most famous of all is however the astronomical clock.

  • The cathedral's south transept houses an 18 meters high astronomical clock, one of the

  • largest in the world. The cathedral has a long tradition of housing an astronomical

  • clock, and the one existing today dates back to mid 19th century. Today, tourists mainly

  • see the remarkably decorative shell of this clock, but behind there is an exceptionally

  • well functioning mechanism. The clock is basically a mathematical marvel. The clock has a mechanism

  • which makes it able to determine the computus, which is the date of Easter in the Christian

  • calendar, as well as foreseeing upcoming leap years. The clock also show the official time,

  • it indicates solar time, the day of the week, the month, the year, the sign of the zodiac,

  • the phase of the moon and the position of several planets. To top it all off, the clock

  • has animated characters launched into movement at different hours of the day. Simply put,

  • it is quite an amazing clock. In front of the clock, you will find a decorated

  • pillar known as the Pillar of Angels, representing the Last Judgment. In the very same room,

  • you will find a statue of a man resting his elbows on the railing. The legend has it this

  • was a rival architect to the one who built the Pillar of Angels. The rival had said that

  • a single pillar could never support such a large vault, and that he would wait to see

  • the whole thing come crashing down. Luckily for both you and me, he is still waiting.

  • Throughout the history, Strasbourg has been a city of great independence. The Strasbourg

  • Cathedral, with its single tall spire, has become a symbol for this proud city. If you

  • want a chance to get a stunning view of Strasbourg, I can recommend taking the stairs up to the

  • cathedral platform. However, the 300 steps are no easy match, so be prepared for a tough

  • climb.

I welcome you to the grand Strasbourg Cathedral. "Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg" is

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    freshmanenglish posted on 2014/09/29
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