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Published: July 24th 2016
Priory church, St Quirin
This church was dedicated in 1123, destroyed during the 30 year war and rebuilt in baroque style in 1722. The walkway joins the two towers, surmounted by onion domes.
Thursday 21 July 2016
Our journey for an overnight stay in Strasbourg was broken with a picnic lunch and a leisurely stroll through another delightful village, St Quirin in the Lorraine region. The warm weather caused us to look for a shady spot to picnic; Neville found it. Beside the priory church of St Quirin, a beautiful shaded area with a wooden structure (like a stable) and a monument to the fallen of 1914-1918. Very peaceful.
‘According to legend, the relics of St Quirinus, tortured in 132 in Rome under the reign of Emporer Hadrian, were brought here in 1049 by Geppa, the abbess of Neuss and a sister of Pope Leo IX. The mule carrying them halted on the slope above the village, at the site of the current Chapelle Haute. The precious relics were stored there for a time before being deposited in the priory church.’ Stéphane Bern: The Best Loved Villages of France
The village has been a centre for pilgrimages and is very ecclesiastical. Walking on such time-worn cobbles had us imagining past village life. The age of these churches and buildings, although the priory church has been
modified extensively over the years, is almost incomprehensible. There are parts that have really stood the test of time. The 800 inhabitants are very proud of their village and it shows.
Approaching the city of Strasbourg, in the Alsace region, was vastly different to the village of St Quirin. But the one thing in common was the presence of a church spire. The churches were the first structure seen within every village we passed. The Cathédrale Notre-Dame’s spire came into view miles from the city. Victor Hugo declared this cathedral a ‘gigantic and delicate marvel’. It’s absolutely breathtaking. After leaving the car park near our hotel, Mabel and Jan, seeing the cathedral for the first time, stopped and gasped. The enormity of the gothic structure, so delicately and intricately carved, was surreal; reaching heavenwards. We spent some considerable time inside, marveling at the detail. It was difficult to leave after sitting and drinking in the atmosphere. At first, this monolith looks wooden. The initial place of worship on this site, commenced in 1015, was a wooden Roman temple. It was destroyed by fire in 1176. The long rebuild of this Cathédrale, using the pinkish
coloured stone from the Vosges, started at the end of the 12th
century and was completed in 1284. Its 142 metre spire was not completed until 1439.
The contrasts within this bustling city are marked: medieval marries with the future. The ancient structures, the ‘hawkers’ trying to sell their wares to obliging tourists, the modern contents of the shops, somehow work in harmony.
Dining in the courtyard of the hotel and listening to the chiming bells of the Cathédrale was a wonderful way to conclude our day’s journey. Later in the evening the Cathédrale was lit up…glowing in regal purple and red, the soft white light bulbs creating a starry effect. Visitors to the city dined under the evening sky and strolled amiably by. By morning, the scene was completely different. The Cathédrale’s pinkish limestone glowed in the sunrise, the streets no longer bustling with tourists entering the Cathédrale or enjoying a meal at the close by cafés. This is the time of day rubbish is collected and deliveries are made. Shops don’t open until 10am. Many cafés open around this time, too.
The weather continued to warm as
we walked around the old city, stopping frequently to admire shops, dwellings and the canal. Boats full of tourists cruised along. The canal is edged with summer flowers, brimming over the edge and buzzing with bees. Park benches allow for respite and taking in the scene. French and German influences in architecture are evident all through this charming, and fairy-tale like city.
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