By Kelly Wise Valdes
France is well known for its magnificent and historical cathedrals throughout the country. But the Strasbourg Cathedral in Strasbourg, France stands out for its unique, delicate structure and its distinctive red sandstone. With its 466 ft. soaring spire, it was the tallest building in the world from 1647 to 1874.
The town of Strasbourg favors both France and Germany because it sits adjacent to the border of both countries. The Cathedral is influenced in design by both countries and is considered a symbol of enduring spirit by the people in the region.
Strasbourg Cathedral is more than one thousand years old. The original Cathedral was constructed in 1015 but later destroyed by a fire. The second wave of construction started in the 12th century, during the Gothic architectural years. The construction on the nave took place during the entire 13th century and the delicate spire was completed in 1439.
Between 1870 and 1945, the Cathedral suffered heavily during three wars, but remained standing. The Second World War proved especially difficult for the Cathedral. During the annexation of Strasbourg into the Third Reich, Hitler wanted to turn the Cathedral into a national monument. The huge and priceless stained glass windows disappeared until 1945 when they were found hidden in a salt mine in Germany.
The Cathedral is filled with magnificent art crafted by the skilled masons and artisans that worked on it over the centuries. One of the most interesting features is the Astronomical clock. This rare clock was designed by a team of artists, mathematicians and technicians. The world famous clock draws a crowd every day to see the automated figures on parade at exactly at half past midday. An angel will sound a chime and the twelve apostles will pass in front of Jesus. The clock shows much more than the official time; it also 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. Although visitors can tour the Cathedral during the day, a separate ticket is needed for the viewing of the Astronomical clock.
Attracting more than four million visitors each year, Strasbourg Cathedral is the second most-visited cathedral in France after Notre-Dame de Paris. The Cathedral is open daily for visitors. For information, visit www.strasbourg.info/cathedral.