Many people spend their lives running from church. Yet, in Europe's historical city centers, people flock to them. The beautiful cathedrals throughout Europe tell a story. They give a glimpse into the town, the townspeople, and those who built them as much as any other architectural structure in the area.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Strasbourg is known as one of the most beautiful gothic churches in all of Europe. It is built on the site where a Roman temple once stood. It was the first cathedral to be built in the Alsace region.
Building was initially commissioned by the Habsburgs in 1015. But as many church stories go, a fire destroyed most of it. The townspeople took over rennovations near the end of the 12th century with municipal money and private donations. They carried red stones from the Vosges mountains to stone masons who gave it the gothic appearance and its unique pink hue.
For four centuries, the Strasbourg cathedral held the title of "Tallest Building In The Modern World." It was unique in that it was one of the few cathedrals with only one tower. This tower was almost destroyed during the French Revolution as it became the tarte of revolutionists' anger. A local locksmith, in a moment of genius, built a metal Phrygian cap (a cone-shaped cap which was the symbol of the revolution) and placed it on top of the tower, saving the spire.
Aside from the 12th century stained glass windows, the grand organ, and sculptured pulpit, crowds are particularly drawn to the astronomical clock. Residing in the south transept, the 59-foot clock is one of the largest in the world. Considered a "mathematical marvel," the clock's mechanisms can determine the date of Easter and upcoming leap years, as well as show the current time, solar time, day of the week, the month, the year, the sign of the zodia, the phase of the moon, and the position of planets.
These are just a few of the Strasbourg cathedral's highlights. Churchgoer or not, you can see why people flock to it. The ambitious ones will even take the 300-step stairs up to the observation deck to get an astounding view over Strasbourg!