Ebersmunster Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by ranger49
  • Things to Do
    by ranger49
  • The nave
    The nave
    by JLBG

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    A Famous organ

    by ranger49 Written Jun 21, 2009

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    Shortly before our visit to Alsace we were visited by an Australian friend - then organist at one of the Cathedrals in his home country. He had just completed a tour of European organs and the name of Silbermann was mentioned. I did not expect to come across one of his organs in this little village.
    But - the organ in Ebersmunster Church, was built in 1730 and is a masterpiece of Andreas Silbermann, the Paris-trained Saxon organ builder. It is said to be one of the most beautiful organs in the world and is one of only two almost completely preserved of Silbermann's instruments ( the other being at Marmoutier) .

    The quality and beauty of its tone survived because a small village church was unable to afford the alterations and “improvements” of changing tastes in organ music.
    Essential repairs were carried out in the late 1990s by three acknowledged modern experts who ensured that the intrinsic original sound of the instrument can still be heard.
    Weekly organ and choral concerts are given on Sundays in May - our visit was in September.

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    Go inside the Church

    by ranger49 Written Jun 21, 2009

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    When we entered the church we were greeted by a dazzling display of colour from the gleaming gilt carvings on the high altar, the large, crown shaped Balanquin and overall effect of light and colour.
    The interior is finely decorated and has beautifully painted ceilings, the carved furniture has unusual elegance - specially the choir stalls - sorry no photo - but you can see one on Wikipedia - the carving is quite remarkable.

    But perhaps the crowning glory of the church is the Andreas Silbermann Organ - which deserves a separate Tip on its own.

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    The pulpit

    by JLBG Updated Mar 19, 2008

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    Samson holding the pulpit
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    Together with the organ, the pulpit is a masterpiece and alone worth the visit. A beautifully carved Samson leaning on a lion seems to hold the pulpit with his two extended arms. It was carved in hardwood by the brothers Winterhalder that designed also the altar in the Saint Sebastian church of Dambach.

    Actually, it is a “trompe-l’oeil” and he does not hold anything (third photo)!

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    Swans in a field

    by JLBG Written Mar 3, 2008

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    Swans in a field
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    When we spotted these large birds in a field, along the road to Ebersmunster, I thought at first that they were geese. However, once we parked on the side of the road and had a closer look, they obviously were swans! Usually, swan are seen swimming on some body of water and I had never seen any feeding on the ground, far away from the water (far away is one kilometer though!)

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    Le Grand Ried

    by JLBG Written Mar 3, 2008

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    Swans swimming

    As Ebersmunster is situated in the Grand Ried, no wonder that water flows everywhere. Several quiet streams flow across the village. When we arrived on the small bridge crossing this one, two swans swam gracefully towards us hoping for some food but unfortunately we had nothing to give them.

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    Entrance into the city of Ebersmunster?

    by JLBG Written Mar 3, 2008

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    Entrance into the city of Ebersmunster?
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    Before1331, Ebersmunster had a city wall with an entrance door in the west built in 1513. However the city wall was put down by the Swedish in 1640, when they destroyed the Abbey. Then this should not be an actual city entrance though it bears the shield of the city, the Abbey and a wild boar (second photo). On top, the numbers 8732 (or 87 and 32) do not look like a date (!). Underneath, 1972 is obviously a date. The date of a rebuilding? I have not found any clue.

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    Mairie-École

    by JLBG Written Mar 3, 2008

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    Mairie-��cole

    On the right to the church, a two levels brick building is the “Mairie-École”. Since the second half of the 19th, and until the middle of the 20th, in most villages of France, the Mairie (town hall) and the École (School) were housed in the same building. One side for the girls school, the other for the boys school and the office of the mayor in the middle. When the city council had a meeting, that was in the evening, in an empty classroom. The teacher was at the same time the “secrétaire de Mairie” (city secretary) that did the paper work for the mayor.

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    Tomb stones

    by JLBG Written Mar 3, 2008

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    Tomb stones

    On the side of the church, between low walls, a small square lawn is dotted with a dozen standing tombstones. The carvings are half obliterated and almost impossible to decipher. I have read the name “Marta” and several of these stones bear the carved form of a lady. This is strange as Ebersmunster Abbey was a men’s Abbey. I do not have found any explanation.

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    The stalls

    by JLBG Written Mar 3, 2008

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    The stalls
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    The wooden stalls of the nave are carved in oak with a décor made of stylized flowers and leaves. This carving does not seem very old. It does not match the carvings of the stalls in the choir (sorry, no photos) which represent twelve Saints.

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    The frescoes

    by JLBG Written Mar 3, 2008

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    The frescoes
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    The frescoes were painted between 1727 and 1759 by three painters from Strasbourg, Joseph Matter, Joseph Syber and Joseph Mages. They represent various religious scenes :
    The martyrdom of saint Vincent.
    The life of Saint Benoit
    The mystery of God revealed to man.
    The Mystery of the Virgin, etc…

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    The altar

    by JLBG Written Mar 3, 2008

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    The altar

    The altar is sumptuous and is topped by a canopy figuring a majestic golden imperial crown. The altar was carved by Jean Léonard Meyer from Sélestat. Wide openings allow plenty of sun (when shining!) to light it.

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    The orgue

    by JLBG Written Mar 3, 2008

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    The Silbermann orgue
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    The organ is famous as it was one of the last built by André Silbermann around 1734 and because most of it has remained unchanged.

    André was the leader of the famous organ maker family. He was born in Saxe, learnt organ making in Paris and settled in Alsace. His brother Gottfried left him and went back in Saxe where he built many organs. His elder son, Jean-André built 57 organs in Alsace. His second son worked mainly with his uncle. Altogether, the Silbermann family has built 91 organs in Alsace.

    Over the organ, a fresco shows Saint Cecilia playing organ (third photo)

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    The nave

    by JLBG Written Mar 3, 2008

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    The nave
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    The Ebersmunster church is considered as one of the most beautiful baroque church of France. The nave and the choir were built in the 17th and did not undergo any changes in the 18th. The vaults are painted with an amazing series of fresco that I will show as close-ups.

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    Abbatial church

    by JLBG Written Mar 3, 2008

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    Abbatial church
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    The Abbatial church has an unusual look. It was first built in the VIIth but entirely destroyed in 1632. A new church was built soon after. In 1720, while German baroque was popular, it underwent large amendments by the Austrian Peter Thumb. This gave it this unusual look with the two clock towers topped by bulbs. In the middle, in a niche, the statue of Saint Maurice stands as a Roman legionary (second pgoto).

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