Before you leave the town, remember to try the famous cake "pain d'epices". Made out of fine spices such as cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Delicious all year round, specially in wintertime accompanied by hot red wine. It comes in different shapes like hearts or like the famous Alsatian children.
A must-see activity in Colmar is a visit to the Musée d'Unterlinden. The Unterlinden museum, located in an old Dominican convent, is home to a remarkable work of art called the Issenheim Altarpiece.
Matthias Grünewald was born somewhere in the range of 1470 to 1480, and died in 1528. Little is known about this artist, other than the fact that he created an incredible masterpiece called le Retable d’Issenheim, [the Issenheim Altarpiece].
Matthias Grünewald d'Aschaffembourg was commissioned to create an altar for a church in Issenheim, a small town south of Colmar. The church belonged to an order of monks dedicated to Saint Anthony, and pilgrims visited their church to pray to this saint. Many of the pilgrims suffered from “Saint Anthony’s Fire” [ergotism], an extremely unpleasant skin disease caused by a strep infection. The disease causes fever, horrible skin eruptions, and often death. Grünewald’s paintings include several scenes of events in the life of Saint Anthony, as well as an image of someone suffering from this terrible disease.
Grünewald’s painted panels (1512-1516) are attached to a central segment with sculptures by Nicolas de Haguenau (circa 1500). Depending on the church calendar, various panels could be opened or closed to expose different paintings. There is an annunciation, a crucifixion, resurrection, the temptation of Saint Anthony, the death of Saint Sebastien.
The paintings of Grünewald are fantastic, literally and figuratively. We spent hours studying this work. Dive in; appreciate the powerful details and the incredible whole. Imagine the mind of the man that created this incredible imagery.
Town Walk - 3 - Town Library
"Founded in 1803, the municipal library is housed in the former Dominican convent buildings, which were rebuilt between 1733 and 1742 around the medieval cloister. Its ancient origins are a result of the bringing together of the prestigious monastic libraries of Haute Alsace, and it contains over 1200 manuscripts, the oldest of which dates from the 8th century, more than 2700 early printed books and almost 5000 prints from the 16th to the 18th centuries."
Town Walk - 5 - Voltaire's residence
"A former noble property, this residence was owned by the Goll family in the 18th century. Voltaire rented 2 rooms there between 1753 and 1754: the philosopher had received an invitation from Frederick II and withdrew here after falling out with the ruler of Prussia, to complete his "Annales de l'Empire" with the help of lawyers from Colmar. The courtyard and neighbouring buildings at number 12 housed the Molly brewery during the 19th century. A fine wooden gallery dating from 1598 survives along the south facade."
Town Walk - 8 - Adolph house
"Documented since the 14th century, and considered to be one of the oldest residences in Colmar, Maison Adolph owes its name to one of its owners, who added the wonderful Gothic bay windows in the second half of the 19th century. On the north facade, on the second floor, the lattices of the central window are reminiscent of the bays of the collegiate church of Saint Martin, and are probably from the same period."