The south entrance is dedicated to saint Nicholas. It is one of the earliest parts of the church and dates from the second half of the 13th. It is partly Romanesque, partly Gothic.
The lowest part of the tympanum has a Romanesque semi-circular arch with Saint Nicolas represented with on one side 3 maids that he saved from an ill fate (prostitution ?) as their father (far left) was ruined and could not pay for their dowry. He put money in their socks that were hanged for drying. On the other side, 3 lads figuring the children that were killed, cut in pieces and put in a salting-tub by a butcher and that he resuscitate.
The upper part of the tympanum is a Gothic arch with the scenery of the Last Judgment.
On the clock standing on the south side of Cathedral Saint Martin, the hours are written in Roman numbers and the four is written IIII and not IV. This is the case on most ancient clocks but the question is why. I have found several explanations and I do not know which one is true.
- This is only for aesthetic, in order to have four numbers with I (I, II, III and IIII), four with V (V, VI, VII, VIII) and four with X (IX, X, XI and XII).
- This is only for aesthetic, in order to have a better equilibrium between the right and the left side of the clock.
- If written IV, it might have been mistaken with VI, which on a clock is written upside down.
- In Roman numbering, 4 has always been written IIII except for numbering sovereigns. As nowadays Roman numbering is not used anymore in real life but only for numbering sovereigns, the wrong feeling has established itself that IV was the regular form.
Saint Martin Church is usually named cathedral though it is actually a Collegiale. It was built in Gothic style the 13th and 14th in grey sand stone from Rouffach.
The tower was burnt in 1572 and rebuilt in Renaissance style. It is 71 meters.
The second photo shows the left part of the south side and the third shows the right part.
The first photo is a mounting of both (could be better !).
"Construction of the convent for the Dominican nuns of Sainte Catherine, known as the Catherinettes, was started before 1371 and completed in 1436. Its cloister was rebuilt between 1578 and 1581, as were all the convent buildings from 1753. They now house departments of the National institute for agronomic research, and teaching rooms. The former church which has been significantly remodelled, is the venue for numerous cultural events."
"Erected from 1235 on the site of a previous building, this collegiate church is the most imposing Gothic church in Middle Alsace. The south facade of the transept, with the Saint Nicolas portal, is the finest part. The strange roofing of the tower replaces a spire which collapsed following a fire in 1572. As the seat of the constitutional bisphoric of the Haut-Rhin district during the French revolution, Saint Martin had cathedral status during that period."
"Built between the end of the 13th century and the mid-14th century, the Colmar Franciscan convent church was acquired by the town in the midle of the 16th century. In 1575 it became the Protestant church of Saint Matthieu. At the same time the convent buildings, which have since disappeared, were converted into a hospital. From 1715 until the second world war, the chancel was used as a Catholic chapel for the hospital, hence the presence of the two turrets on the top of the roof."
"In 1277, despite the opposition of the canons of Saint Martin, the Dominicans were called to Colmar and began construction of their buildings here. The first stone of the church's chancel was laid in 1283 by King Rudolph of Hapsburg, and the building was completed during the first half of the 14th century. Superb stained glass windows survive from this period. The chancel contains the retable of the virgin of the rose bush, a masterpiece executed in 1473 by Martin Schongauer."
This church contains one of Colmar's most famous treasures: Martin Schongauer's painting Virgin of the Rosebush, or Vierge au buisson de rose (1473), all gold, red, and white, with fluttering birds. Look for it in the choir.
Hours Apr-Dec daily 10am-1pm and 3-6pm
Prices Admission 1.30€ ($1.70) adults, 1€ ($1.30) students, free for children under 13
Season Closed Jan-Mar
In the heart of Old Colmar is a VERY old collegiate church, which was begun in 1230 on the site of a Romanesque church. It has a choir erected in 1350 and is crowned by a steeple rising to 70m.
It sure is very impressive - so don't miss it!
St. Martin - the main church of Colmar - is another excellent example of Gothic architecture in Alsace. It was built 1235 - 1356. The spire of the southern tower burnt down in 1572 and was reconstructed in Renaissance style, lending the building its characteristic (and non-typical) silhouette.
Please take notice of the many details, like the fine sculptured portals, the windows with Gotic tracery and the side chapel in the Northern nave. I liked it very much.
The Dominican church is one of the finest examples of simple Gothic architecture. It was built in the first half of the 14th century. Very impressive are the tall pillars which carry the wooden ceiling.
The highlight of the church, though, is a famous picture of Martin Schongauer, the "Madonna im Rosenhag" (1473). Schongauer created a peaceful scene with a meditative Madonna, holding her curiously looking, almost smiling child in her arms. The picture got its name from the many roses in the background. The picture had its original place in the church St. Martin, but it was stolen in 1972. Found and restored later it was transferred to the Dominican church where it is to find now.
In some ways the most impressive building in Colmar, St. Martin's dominates the Place de la Cathedrale with its steeple which soars over 200 feet in the air and its typically Alsatian multi-colored tiled roof. It is so large and set in such narrow streets that it is hard to get an overall view, so walk around and admire the flying buttresses and lovely carved pinnacles. It is built of stone of course and dates to the 13th and 14th Centuries. Its external carving is magnificent and can be enjoyed over a drink or morning coffee in the Place de la Cathedral. This is the second church in Alsace that I learned is shared by Catholics and Protestants. I wonder if this is common - it would make sense given the French/German character of her history.
This painting has several different names, Virgin in the Rosebush, Madonna and Child in the Rose Arbor, Madonna in the Rose Bower, but by any name it is brilliant. It was painted in 1473 but the colors are as vibrant as if done yesterday. The artist, Martin Schongauer, was born in Alsace and did the painting originally for St. Martin's Cathedral. I don't know how it ended up in the hands of the Dominican Church, but as this church is typically plain (a Dominican trait), the contrast is wonderful. Maybe there is a good story of religious order rivalry here as St. Martin's is a Franciscan. The church is an interesting visit, but the painting is not to be missed. Notice the goldfinches, robins and sparrows which add life to the already beautiful rose bush.
This church started being built in 1234 until 1365. It is a major example of Gothic Art. The foundations of a church dating back to the end of the first millennium were found, along with traces of building work from the 11th and 12th centuries during the restoration
Collegiate Church of St. Martin. Gothic church built in the 13th & 14th centuries. Very dark inside and had a large pipe-organ which was playing at the time of my visit. Seemed very erie with the music, like a horror movie.