Since this is such an elegant 18th century theater, my expectation was that people in the audience would be dressed in some elegant way to match the décor.
But no, the dress code was a resounding "come as you are". For a long time I thought I was going to be the only one wearing a tie, but then shortly before curtain time two or three other men in suits and ties rushed in, having come straight from work presumably. Otherwise there were lots of young people dressed to impress each other but not their elders, and a bunch of folks who looked just plain scruffy. Hardly anybody had entrusted their coats to the nice old ladies out in the cloakroom. The house was maybe three-quarters full, so there were enough empty seats for people to drape their coats over.
Oh, and upstairs there were eight or ten young people in the audience wearing spiffy blue uniforms of some sort. To me they looked like the Salvation Army, but I expect they were something more prestigious than that.
The house really does have an 18th century feel to it, with unusually shallow steps on the staircases for instance, but the stage machinery is modern. There is a revolving stage which was put to good use during the performance.
By the way, they also do plays and operettas here sometimes, not just the fifteen opera performances per year.
Second photo: The front of the Opéra-Théâtre, with opera posters on display in two of the archways.
Third photo: The upper lobby is a bit stuffy, but has an appropriately 18th century look and feel to it. (And smell, but maybe that was just my imagination.)
Fourth photo: Inside the theater during the intermission, looking up.
Fifth photo: Inside the theater during the intermission, looking down.
- Theater Travel
The Cathedral is one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedral in France. The cathedral is located on a hill on the Moselle river in the historic center of Metz. This place has previously been a chapel dedicated to Saint Etienne. Every Cathedral we have seen in France is totally different to each other, it look like all the same but if you focus on the sign of the architecture work there is always some piece of art that never the same to others
The Centre Pompidou-Metz is a museum of modern art ...A temple of contemporary design
The structure of this modern building was designed by a Japanese Shigeru Ban and the Frans man Jean de Gastines. The Centre Pompidou-Metz was constructed using a hexagonal plan and is crossed by three galleries...The design is extraordinary!
Porte des Allemands
The door of the Germans is one of the most important monuments in Metz, and symbolizes the army has been so long. With a strategic position for the defense of Metz, has survived the centuries and today is an important indicator of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries ...
Metz, on the Moselle is a vibrant metropolis, entitled lights got the brilliant illumination of its most important monuments, bridges and rivers. A walk which is very appreciated a way to discover in the summer
The Moselle River
Metz is built partly on islands and partly on the shore of the Moselle River, which gets its name shortened to Mosel further downstream when it crosses the border into Germany. There it goes through the city of Trier and eventually flows into the Rhine at Koblenz.
The first photo shows the Protestant church called Temple Neuf, which was built on one of the islands between 1901 and 1904 during the German annexation of this area.
The German annexation of this part of France was a result of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and the annexation lasted until the end of the First World War in 1918. During the Second World War the Germans again occupied this area for four years, from 1940 to 1944.
Second photo: The same church at night.
Third photo: A ship on the Moselle, as seen from the Theatre du Saulcy on the campus of Paul Verlaine University. This is slightly downstream from the center of Metz. Ships cannot go through the city center because the bridges are too low.
Paul Verlaine University
This university was founded in 1970, and now has 16,000 students. The main campus is on an island in the Moselle River. Most of the buildings are new, but at the front end of the campus there are also a few older buildings from the 19th century that were originally built for other purposes but have recently been modernized for use by the university.
They claim that this is one of the most pleasant university campuses in France. Well, maybe it is, but the newer buildings are not exactly architectural masterpieces, and the really irritating thing is that there is an elevated motorway, the Autoroute A31, which cuts right across the island and hence the campus.
Paul Verlaine (1844-1896) was one of the leading French poets of the nineteenth century. They named the university after him because he was born in Metz and lived the first seven years of his life here, before his family moved back to Paris. Actually the only reason he was born here was that his father was an infantry captain who happened to be stationed in Metz at the time.
Il pleure dans mon coeur
Comme il pleut sur la ville;
Quelle est cette langueur
Qui pénètre mon coeur?
O bruit doux de la pluie
Par terre et sur les toits!
Pour un coeur qui s'ennuie
O le chant de la pluie!
Il pleure sans raison
Dans ce coeur qui s'écoeure
Quoi! nulle trahison?...
Ce deuil est sans raison.
C'est bien la pire peine
De ne savoir pourquoi
Sans amour et sans haine
Mon coeur a tant de peine!
Second photo: Faculty of law, economics and administration.
Third photo: Faculty of letters.
Fourth photo: Older buildings at the front end of the campus.
- Study Abroad
Musee de la Cour d'Or
This is a most wonderful...and very large...museum which is another aboslute 'must' if you visit Metz.
Not only does it have numerous locally-discovered examples of Roman art and artefacts, numerous artefacts from the Medieval and Renaissance periods (including an excellent collection of Medieval religious sculpture) and an art museum but its lower levels are actually an excavation of Metz's Roman baths, discovered when the museum was extended in the 1930s.
The museum began in 1839 and over subsequent years has greatly expanded. Several new wings were built and, in 1977, the Municipal Library was moved so that building could be used for the museum as well. Altogether it has an area of 3500+ square metres... pretty huge!
The size and the separate wings built at different times makes the museum rather a rabbit-warren to explore, despite the good information leaflet (English version available) and the room numbering system. That isn't helped by the fact that (it seems) you must go round in one direction only: the custodians who are dotted about were really quite insistent about that when I tried to take short-cuts past rooms which did not interest me.
But that aside, this museum is full of delights, from the sad little Roman gravestone to a small, beloved daughter to the rather lovely Roman mosaics, from the (?Merovingian?) skeletons in their re-created graves to the subtly 'primitive' Medieval carvings of the Madonna and child.
Allow yourself at least 1.5 hours to explore: you could easily spend much longer. There are cloakrooms and ..obviously...toilets, so it is a pleasant enough place to while away the time, especially on the sort of icy-damp day on which I visited Metz.
Entrance was 4.60 euro when I visited in February 2013. Open every day except Tuesdays, from 0900 - 1800.
Closed on 1 January, Good Friday, 1 May, 14 July, 1 and 11 November and 24-25-26 and 31 December.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
The Cathedrale saint-Etienne de Metz is constructed on a site which has been sacred since the 5th century (400s). It is there that the shrine to St Stephen was built and, amazingly, was not destroyed when the city was almost destroyed by Attlia the Hun (421).
You cannot see that shrine now, of course: the existing building dates from the 1200s, built within the walls of an earlier (10th century..900s) basilica. An existing 12th-century chapel.
was incorporated into the soaring cathedral space (it has one of the highest naves in France).
I was surprised at how bare the cathedral interior is until I realised that this was almost certainly the effect of the fire in 1877, which did a huge amount of damage. The stones seem slightly blackened too: smoke, I assume. It feels rather 'grey' inside and lacks the decorative stonework, memorials and tombs I'd expect from such an ancient structure.
But the stained glass (see next tip) is wonderful, and the cathedral a calm, quiet space (as it should be). To be honest, it's not one of the most interesting Medieval cathedrals I've visited but it is certainly worth exploring, if only for those lovely Chagall windows.
- Religious Travel
- Historical Travel
Cathedrale St-Etienne: those wonderful windows!
I cannot pretend that I am any sort of art expert, nor do i have any huge interest in art. But if you need only one reason for a visit to Metz then the cathedral windows created by Marc Chagall are it: even on a grey, chill February day they simply glowed and were absolutely stunning.
There is a huge original Medieval stained-glass window over the west facade, dating from the 1300s and created by Hermann von Munster. That's worth seeing itself, although it is so high above the nave that it is difficult to pick out details.
From 1958 to 1968 Chagall created three windows for the cathedral.. You'll find them in the 'ambulatory', the section which leads around the north of the altar area. They are, simply, quite lovely. Not easy to photograph, but lovely! :-)
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Cathedrale St-Etienne: two things you might miss.
Although the cathedral is remarkably bare inside, in comparison with other similar European cathedrals (and probably a result of the fire) there are a couple of things I spotted which would be easily overlooked.
Directly opposite the entrance and tucked away into a corner you will find a most magnificent piece of porphyry (a red stone) used as a baptismal font. But, originally, it was a Roman bath...and one which came from the city baths of Roman Metz.
And do make sure you look up as you wander up or down the centre of the nave. You'll spot the 'the organ in swallow's nest', a beautifully-constructed organ 'loft' suspended high up above the nave. There's been a small organ in that spot since 1537, the first being built by one Jehan de Treves. with changes being made in 1588 by Florent Hocquet from Liege. But (presumably) the original was damaged or destroyed by the fire...or simply became too fragile....so the organ which now exists was rebuilt in 1981 by Marc Garnier, using accurate and authentic 16th-century techniques.
- Historical Travel
Cathedrale St-Etienne: the western portal.
The huge damage done to this ancient cathedral by the fire of 1877 (caused by fireworks, apparently) result in almost the whole of the western side. So the wonderfully intricate entrance portal through which you pass the visit the church is nowhere near as old as you might expect (or hope, given the age of the structure): it was part of that reconstruction, built between 1898 and 1903!
I suspected the portal was not as ancient as the cathedral before I knew it to be a fact: the stonework was simply too crisp, too clear, not eroded enough by time, weather and smoke (yes, smoke over centuries does a vast amount of damage to stonework)...and the elephant was far too accurate!. But it's a most wonderful bit of architecture anyway ('NeoGothic', I believe) with tens of saints adorning its upper parts and its lower parts decorated with all sorts of faux-Medieval symbols, from Greek happy/sad masks to the four winds, from from winged oxen to dragons to pelicans (which, in the Medieval bestiary, were said to feed their own chicks from the blood of their breasts which...if the chicks were dead...would bring them back to life).
I loved looking at the intricate details of this porch, even though it is 'modern' and suggest you spend time enjoying it as well. Spend a few minutes there either on your way into the cathedral or on your way out: it's fascinating!
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
That wonderful railway station!
Metz's railway station was a complete and total surprise...and joy. I had absolutely no idea that I I would be arriving in a sub-Romanesque palace with twiddly column capitals, stained-glass, knights on guard, sort-of-Celtic crosses and studded wooden doors!
When Metz was first annexed by Bismarck on behalf of the German Empire, it was decide that the railway station would be the main focus of the new 'Germanified' district (now Ville Allemande) showing modern German architecture which would contrast very strongly (and favourably) with the Medieval heart of the city.
The station was built between 1905-6, the main architect being one Jürgen Kröger. Whilst historical Metz is built from the local honey-yellow Jaumont stone it was decided that the railway station (standing on 3000+ piles, because the ground was swampy) would be created in grey stone.
In some ways the station looks like a church..it has a prominent almost-steeple, complete with clock. Or maybe it looks rather like a Victorian Gothic stately home (Kaiser Wilhelm ll was, after all, Queen Victoria's grandson).....or perhaps a Victorian folly or hunting lodge...or an imperial palace. Whatever, it is a most wonderful mish-mash of ideas!
The knight who guards the station entrance is, apparently, Roland... ensuring that the might of the German Empire protected Metz. In the entrance hall is a most lovely piece of stained-glass which shows the Emperor Charlemagne on his throne, as well as much beautifully carved decorative woodwork
I'd intended to spend longer exploring the station on my return but, unfortunately, I had not time (too cold, needed to sit down in the warm and get back to Luxembourg). But if you visit Metx, whether by train or not, it is absolutely unmissable, imo ...if only as a demonstration of just how twiddly and twirly and elaborate turn-of-the-century neo-Romanesque architecture can be!
- Historical Travel
Porte des Allemands
This is a rather super remnant of the Medieval fortifications of Metz, far more impressive than my guidebook had led me to expect.
The Porte des Allemands (Gate of the Germans) is constructed over the river Seille, itself adding a sort of moat to the city on that side. The gate was, of course, originally linked with the town walls and bastions (only a small part of which remain).
Construction began in 1230, at the same time as the 7km-long city walls. At that time there were two narrow towers, but in the late 1400s they were joined by two more. Further additions were made in 1552, after the Siege of Metz (France v Spain). The bridge was equipped with 'harrows' , a type of grid which could be lowered to block the river.
The gate was restored in the mid-1800s, with some 'enhancements' added by the German rulers during Metz's incorporation into the German Empire in the late 1800s/early 1900s. So everything you see now is not original...but most of it is.
The original bridge to the side of the gate was destroyed by bombing in 1944 and has been rebuilt a little further away.
If you peer through the arrow-slits over the river, looking north, you can just see the remains of a Second World War pill-box (a defensive position) on the riverbank.
It's definitely worth walking away from the historical centre to see this Medieval gate. It's pretty impressive.
- Historical Travel
This is one of old town Metz's vast squares, and one which I really liked even though it was pretty much deserted on that cold February Thursday. With almost all its buildings created from the local, honey-coloured Jaumont stone it must be a beautiful place on a sunny day.
The square dates from the 14th-16th centuries and has been recently renovated. The long rows of buttressed houses on its western side lie along the line of the original Roman town ramparts.
In the Middle Ages the square was home to the local money-changers (and no doubt money-lenders as well). Many of the financiers came from Italy during the 1300s and the rather lovely arcades which are incorporated into the buildings show that Italian architectural influence. I'm not sure of the meaning of the open hand on one of the buildings, but I'd guess it has something to do with money changing or lending........
Make sure you look at the house wall on the corner of Rue Tete d'Or (named after a hotel). It has only opened into the Place St-Louis since the late 1700s and during the works to make that opening three ancient (Roman) heads were discovered and are now fixed into the wall.
Nowadays there are cafes, restaurants and small shops where once the money-changers drove their bargains, and fairs and markets. The square makes a very pleasant place to stroll (out of the sun in the arcades) or to sit with a coffee and watch the world go by....but not when the temperature is -3!
- Historical Travel
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