The Église des Dominicains houses the Flemish-influenced Madonna of the Rosebush (1473), by Martin Schongauer (1445-91), the most celebrated painting by the noted 15th-century German artist. Stolen from St-Martin's in 1972 and later recovered, the work has almost certainly been reduced in size from its original state but retains enormous impact. The grace and intensity of the Virgin match that of the Christ Child; yet her slender fingers dent the child's soft flesh (and his fingers entwine her curls) with immediate intimacy. Schongauer's text for her crown is: Me carpes genito tuo o santissima virgo ("Choose me also for your child, O holiest Virgin").
It was consecrated as Cathedral and then Collegiate Church from 1237 under Frederick, abbot of Münster. The Church has strong gothic characteristic, three naves and beautiful stained glass windows from the Church of the Dominicans. It was severely damaged by a fire but was rebuilt in 1536 and served for a time as a place of Protestant worship: the porcelain gives it special red-light, with an impressive main portal between two columns; the portal to the South is signed by “Maître Humbret” (who beginning work in 1245). Also notable are also the reliefs showing the 'Adoration of the Magi' and the 'Last Judgment'. In the apse there is a precious wooden crucifix of the fourteenth century.
St. Martin's Collegiate church as we see now was built in the 13th century and is in Alsace a major example of Gothic architecture. The foundations go back to the year 1000.
The bulb-shaped dome that gives the building its characteristic appearance is from 1575 after a fire burnt down the former bell tower. The massive pillars of the façade give the front of the building a somewhat cumbersome aspect.
The roof is of coloured tiles. The church looks nice especially in the evening thanks to the lighting system very well developed in the old Colmar.
The interior of the church is worthwhile a visit especially in the evening as it is beautifully lit by lights of gilded colour which emphasize the choir and the adjacent chapels (photo n°2). They display several medieval altars and statues.
Impressive in the chapel left of the choir is a life-sized "Cène - Last supper" of the late Gothic period (photo n°2). I could also admire a carved "triptyque de la Vie de St. Anne" from the 17th. century (photo n° 3).
Open 8.00 - 18.00 h
Even if I have a preference for this church when it is dark because I like the way the interior is lit, I must say that the polychromy of the façade, as seen in day time, is surprising.
The colour palette of the stones used for the building is much extended in comparison with most Gothic churches. At St Martin the stones vary from dark grey to red; too which are added the colours of the roof tiles.
It seems that the inhabitants of Colmar liked to play with colours as well for their houses as for their cathedral (St Martin was once a cathedral).
Même si j'ai une préférence pour cette église au crépuscule parce que j'en aime l'éclairage intérieur, je dois dire que la polychromie de la façade, telle qu'elle apparaît en plein jour, est surprenante.
Les pierres utilisées pour les façades appartiennent à une grande variété de teintes en comparaison avec la plupart des églises gothiques. Pour la collégiale St Martin les pierres des murs varient du gris foncé au rouge; à cette palette élargie s'ajoutent encore les couleurs des tuiles de toit.
Il semble que les habitants de Colmar aimaient à jouer avec des couleurs aussi bien pour leurs maisons que pour leur ancienne cathédrale.
There is a fine tympanum on the west facade of St. Martin's which has two levels. The upper level shows a Jesus in majesty with a pair of angels standing at each side of him. The lower level exhibits the three Magi, one kneeling plus a horse at the left and a Virgin with a standing child and an angel at each side. On the north side of the church are auxiliary entrances, one of which has a tympanum of a Christ in majesty. There are also many gargoyles along the upper outer surface of the nave.
The south transept of St. Martin's was completed between 1240-60 including a double door and a two level tympanum. The upper part of the tympanum shows a Last Judgement with the elect on the right, at the center four Angels and a beardless Jesus and at on the left are the damned. The lower picture has St. Nicholas at the center with a story about three dishonored maidens and their father (on the right) and three prospective husbands (on the left). There are archivolts above with a set of 13 statues in the outer level with a figure at the lower left of Master Humbret the sculptor of the facade. Still more sculpture is present on each side of triple sets of fine marble columns. Here a large display of grotesques are arrayed probably originally numbering at least 80 figures.
St. Martin's church is moderately long but is rather narrow. Although the main part of the church was essentially finished by 1300, the choir was remade in 1350. Over the next centuries valuable furnishings were placed inside, such as a fine Crucifixion of the 14C in the absidial chapel, a large wood carving of the Last Supper of the 15C and a fine organ built in 1770.
The present church of St. Martin's was built between 1240 and 1366 using some foundations of a previous 11C church. The last part, the choir, was rebuilt from 1350-66 and a southwest tower and campanile are of the same period. The top of the tower had to be rebuilt after a fire in 1572. There is an early example of a two level sculpted tympanum on the west but the largest entrance is in the south transept which also has a two level tympanum. Many gargoyles adorn the nave.
At the foot of the Dominican church stands the oldest Christmas market of Colmar.
About fifty nicely decorated stalls occupy the Place des Dominicains from the end of November to the end of December.
At night the lighting of the monuments and streets which emphasizes the architectural heritage of the city mix with the lighting of Christmas and that of the 14th century stained glasses of the church.
The aspect is fairy-like and attracts large crowds of visitors.
The interior of the church can be visited until 18:00. It is a typical hall-church with a ceiling out of wood characteristic of the mendicant order of the Dominicans. In the church is on display the famous painting "La Vierge au Buisson de Roses" by Martin Schongauer (1473).
Au pied de l'église des Dominicains a lieu le marché de Noël le plus ancien de Colmar.
Une cinquantaine de maisonnettes joliment décorées occupent la Place des Dominicains de fin novembre à fin décembre.
A la tombée de la nuit se mélangent l'éclairage des monuments et rues qui met en valeur l'héritage architectural de la ville avec l'éclairage de Noël et celui des vitraux du 14ème siècle de l'église.
L'aspect est féerique et attire la grande foule.
L'intérieur de l'église peut être visité jusqu'à 18 h. C'est une église-halle typique de l'ordre mendiant des Dominicains avec un plafond en bois. Elle est connue pour son tableau "La Vierge au Buisson de Roses" de Martin Schongauer (1473).
There are far better cathedrals than this all over Europe but this one is still worth a look inside. If you go to the City Centre of Colmar you will almost trip over it as it seems huge because it is situated right in the middle of the half timber buildings.
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