She is magnificent, decorated and elegant. Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg in France stares at time and history with a serene glance at a small distance from the river L’ill, a western tributary of Rhine. The edifice that illustrates different phases of gothic architecture is a stark contrast to the modern constructions like the European Parliament in the same city.
The lunar beauty that has been a mute spectator of precepts and practices of overtly influential archbishops of Strasbourg at the end of the Middle Ages to the rational discourses during French Revolution can enthral imagination of anybody, so also mine. While the Cathedral had once carried the symbolic torch of the Revolution as the Temple of Reason, the later period saw physical injuries, particularly in 1870 and during World War II. Now she reveals herself silently as a signature of opulent architectural marvel of the past, and seeks adoration from innumerable admirers everyday.
As the Royannant style of rose windows and flying buttresses convoke the ambience of olden days, the curvy figures with looping drapery remind the prevalent Muldenstil style in the gothic architecture though it was basically an invention perhaps from the ancient Greece. The frontal spire proudly demands recognition of the gone glory as the tallest building for around two centuries until later part of nineteenth century.
As I wander inside, the high walls accentuate the biblical stories in between large windows adorned with overhead traceries like the ones found in Mughal-era monuments in India. However, the major attraction is the mammoth astronomical clock that validates the early advancement in precision computation and manufacturing. The scientific vigour stays intact alongside the legend of lake beneath the floating grand structure of red sandstone from Vosges Mountains on the other side of Rhine – the river that flows around four kilometers away.
And I plan to leave now, and cross Rhine to head towards Ettenheim, a lovely and historic village, quite far away for a bicycle rider. The history however tells how Strasbourg and its cathedral expanded its influence under Napoleon whereas its counterpart in Ettenheim shrunk; but then both tell their story and glory today that are engraved in stone.
(From my diary when I was in Strasbourg, France a few days ago.)