The Lost Fort

My Travel and History Blog, Focussing mostly on Roman and Mediaeval Times


21 May 2018
  Pretty Houses and a Famous Minster – A Virtual Tour through Strasbourg

Strasbourg is a pretty town and even prettier in sunshine. But since I visited the place on a sunny Sunday in late April, there were more tourists than in Bruges. It was almost impossible to get photos without people standing in front of the vistas.

The Minster in Strasbourg, westwork

Strasbourg is best known for the famous Minster (Cathedral of Our Lady). Its construction began in the 12th century, but it would take until 1439 to finish the building - and only the north tower was erected to its intended hight of 142 metres. At that time, the Minster of Strasbourg was the tallest building in the known world, surpassing the pyramids of Gizeh.

The Minster, interior

You see what I said about people? On Sundays, the times when tourists can visit the interior are limited due to the religious activities going on in the church, and then they stream in all at once. I had planned to arrive at Saturday early afternoon to avoid this problem, but a strike in France obliged me to spend five hours on trains instead of the two hours I had planned, therefore I arrived in the evening.

The Minster, exterior

Although the construction began at a time when the Romanesque style was still prevalent, the Minster today looks like a purely Gothic building, and a splendind one at that. Particulary the westwork of red sandstone (see above) with its statues and ornaments is stunning.

Palais Rohan, the river side

The Palais Rohan directly behind the minster was commissioned by a cardinal, member of the House Rohan . It was finished in 1742, a fine example of Baroque architecture. Today it houses several musuems, among them the Musée Archaéologique.

The Frauenwerksmuseum

The Musée de l'Œvre Notre Dame dates to the 13th century - with 17th century extensions - and hosts the Museum of the History of Arts. The double-gabled building also is the seat of the cathedral workshop since the Middle Ages (from whence the name 'Work of Our Lady').

The Maison Kammerzell

The House Kammerzell at the place in front of the minster is the finest timbered house in Strasbourg. It was built in 1427 and altered in 1589; the most spendid example of late Gothic secular timber architecture in the former Holy Roman Empire. The facade displays carving of mythological and Biblical figures.

The photo shows the timbered upper floors; the basic storey is made of stone, but there were those ugly stalls that sell tourist kitch in front of it.

The Place Gutenberg

The Gutenberg Place is named after the famous printer who lived in Strasbourg 1434 - 1444. It is framed mostly by Renaissance buildings, among them the former town hall. The Gutenberg statue dates to the 19th century.

St.Thomas' Church

Strasbourg has more than one church, of course. St.Thomas' Church took several centuries to complete (1196 - 1526). The five-naved hall church shows a mix of Romanesque and Gothic elements. It proved much quieter and a lot less tourist-y than the minster.

Mediterranean flair - houses in the Grand Rue

The Grand Rue is the main street of the old town. It already was the main road of the Roman fort at the site. Most of the houses we can admire today were built by artisans and craftsmen in the 16th to 18th centuries.

Half-timbered houses in Petite France

Petite France - Little France - is the name of the quarter which in Mediaeval times housed the workshops and living places of tanners, butchers, fishermen and other smelly and less savoury occupations. Later it became the site of brothels and cheap pubs. The name 'Little France' comes from the French disease (syphilis) which could easily be contacted there.

The Tanners' Street in Petite France

Nowadays the pretty half-timbered houses in the typical style of the Rhineland, dating mostly to the 16th and 17th centuries, have been renovated, and the Petite France has become one of the tourist attractions of Strasbourg. There are a lot of small winstubs (wine houses) and gift shops.

More pretty houses in Petite France

The old town of Strasbourg is located on a isle between two branches of the river Ill shortly before it confluences into the Rhine. The Roman fort was located on the island, later the Mediaeval town developed at the site which is known as Grande Île. The entire 'Grand Island' was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1988.

Petite France seen from the boat

With so much water about, boat tours around the Grand Island and the river Ill leading to the European Quarter are offered on a regular schedule. In fact, they are so popular that it is best to book a few hours in advance. On a sunny evening, such a tour is a lovely way to explore the town.

The navigation lock

With the construction of the Barrage Vauban, the Vauban Dam (photos see below) in 1690, the water level changed and made a navigation lock neccesary. Its passage is part of the boat tour.

More pretty houses, this time at the lock

The lock is situated in the French quarter. You can see the boat coming up in the foreground, and some more lovely half-timbered houses in the background.

The Ponts Couverts

Most famous among the many bridges connecting the Grand Island with the rest of the town are the Ponts Couverts, once bridges covered by roofs as shelter for bowmen. They are part of the 13th century town fortifications. The four towers that protected the bridges are still intact, but the roofs of the bridges have been removed in the 18th century.

Ponts Couverts, seen from the boat

A system of sluices and timber screens under the bridges allowed a controlled flooding of parts of the town in case of defense. Later, the Vauban fortifications would take over the main line of defense.

The Barrage Vauban, seen from the boat

The Vauban Dam worked pretty much the same way as the Ponts Couverts; it could be closed by shutters under the archs to rise the water level, which meant that the Petite France would be partly flooded - one would sacrify a poor quater to defend the more important areas around the minster and the Place Kléber.

The Vauban fortifications

The dam is named after the famous French general and military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban (1633 - 1707). His most importat works - more than 150 in all - were constructed during the reign of King Louis XIV and included town or sea fortifications in Luxembourg, Calais, La Rochelle and Arras. Vauban became Marshal of France in 1703, aged 70.

Pretty houses at the Ponts Couverts

The morning sun, the fresh green of spring, and those nice old houses in half-timbered style or coloured roughcast make for lovely photos. I picked just a few out of some 250 I took in Strasbourg for this post.

Chestnut trees in bloom along the Ill

The boat tour includes a turn to the European Quarter, else I would not have bothered to walk out there and look at lots of glass. The passage on the Ill along the chestnut alley is really lovely in spring.

European Parliament

Strasbourg is one of the official seats of the European Parliament. The building dates to 1999 and includes more than a thousand offices, 18 great halls, restaurants, hairdressers and lots of other amenities. During the session weeks, a whole trek of politicians, bureaucrats and administration members travels from Brussels to Strasbourg, including a score of trucks full of files.

European Court of Human Rights

The aluminium complex (1994) of the European Court of Rights is supposed to look like the scales of justice from above. The angle from the river gives an idea of that though it is not perfect. The main court room covers 860 square metres with 260 seats; there are ten more courts and meeting rooms.

Pretty houses behind the Minster

Those typical Rhineland style half-timbered houses, often with pretty decorations, can be found the in the quarter around the minster as well. My hotel was in that street, but impossible to photograph because the street is so narrow.
 


6 May 2018
  What I Visited – Castles in the Eifel and Luxembourg

As promised, here is the introductory post about the castles and fortifications I visited. As usual, longer posts will follow sometime.

I decided for the Manderscheid Castles in the Eifel instead of one of the castles directly at the Moselle, because they offer some spectacular ruins and are less tourist infected than fe. Castle Eltz.

Castle Lower Manderscheid (Niedermanderscheid) seen from the upper castle

The double castle of Manderscheid in the Eifel is an impressive structure, particularly the castle of Lower Manderscheid (Niedermanderscheid). It was the only day of my journey that started with rain, but fortunately, the sun came out later and enabled me to enjoy the hiking tour of both castles. On a wet day, the Eiffel slate is rather slippery. (And after two British castles on dreary days, some ruins in the sunshine make for a nice change.)

Lower Manderscheid – A castle of different layers

The castles got involved in the conflicts between the duchy of Luxembourg and the archbishopric of Trier several times. Both castles are separated by a valley which they control. The lower castle dates to the late 12th century; the upper one to the 14th century, but the site plays a role since Ottonian times.

The Bock Fortifications in Luxembourg City

Luxembourg City started out on the foundations of a Roman castellum on the rocks above the river Alzette. One Count Siegfried obtained the land in 963 and built the first castle (likely a timber fortification). Mid-12th century, a town had developed which was protected by a wall. More walls were built as the town grew. During the various Hapsburg, French and whatever dominations of Luxembourg, the fortifications were continually enlarged in the 16th – 18th centuries, including some 15 miles of casemattes.

Castle Vianden, Luxembourg

Castle Vianden is one of the largest castles west of the Rhine that remains intact – or, to be honest, has been restored to its former glory. Again, the castle was built on the site of a Roman fort from the 4th century AD. The castle became one of the mightiest in the area when the Lords of Vianden chose it as their main seat in the 12th century. They remained one of the most powerful noble houses until the 15th century.

The open gallery in Castle Vianden

1417, the castle came into possession of the House Orange-Nassau (King Willem Alexander of the Netherlands belongs to that family). They built a Renaissance palace in the castle. The castle was confiscated during the French Revolution but returned to the Grand Duke of Luxembourg (of the House Nassau), but the time of castles was past and it fell into decline. Since 1977, the castle belongs to the state of Luxembourg and has been restored.

Castle Bourscheid, Luxembourg

Castle Bourscheid is situated on a promontory, but the access is today is from the village above; a two kilometres walk. The castle dates to the late 11th century and is the largest in Luxembourg in terms of surface area. The inner bailey with the keep and palas was built between 1050 -1300, the outer bailey with additional curtain walls, zwinger and towers in the 14th century. Today, only ruins are left.

BTW, don’t miss the post about the Romans at the Moselle below.
 


  What I Visited - Romans at the Moselle

I'm back with another bunch of photos, so here is one of the usual introductory posts. There are a lot or Roman remains, particularly villae, around Trier and along the Moselle. The land is now mostly part of Germany, but in Roman times it belonged to the province of Gallia Belgica and was strongly influenced by Roman civilization.

The Porta Nigra at night

I said in the post below that I wanted to revisit the Porta Nigra because I didn't take enough photos of it during my first visit. Well, there is no shortage of photos now. *grin*

Barbara Baths, detail

The Barbara Baths, named after a Mediaeval village that is now a suburb of Trier, are one of several Roman baths in Trier. They had been closed due to repairs in 2006. The remains are now accessible via a walkway above the ruins. They date to the second half of the 2nd century AD

The Wine Ship sculpture in the Rheinisches Landesmuseum Trier

The Rheinisches Landesmuseum in Trier has been expanded, so I revisited that one as well. The wine ship sculpture is one of the most famous finds along the Moselle that is exhibited in the museum. But there are plenty of other sculptures and various artifacts.

Musée Archaéologique Strasbourg, Roman militaria

Another musuem with Roman finds is the Musée Archaéologique in Strasbourg, the ancient Roman Argentoratum. The town goes back to a Roman military camp at the time of Drusus the Elder (12 BC) and developed into one of the centres of the province Germania Superior. Few Roman traces have survived in the town itself, but plenty have been found in the surroundings.

The villa rustica in Mehring

A villa rustica is basically a farm with a rather fancy main building. The one in Mehring dates to the 2nd century AD, but has been altered a few times during the following centuries. The villa has been partly excavated (the rest is hiding beneath modern houses) and the porticus (entrance) with the two corner avant-corpses has been reconstructed.

The villa urbana in Longuich

A villa urbana can be described as a manor. The one in Longuich likely belonged to a retired Roman official. It too, has been partly excavated and some of the main building restored. Remains of the baths can be seen through grilled doors. Its situation in the vineyard terrasses above the Moselle is quite pretty.

The reconstructed villa in Borg

The Roman villa in Borg is one of the largest in the Saar/Moselle district. In this case, it was decided for a complete reconstruction of the main building and the gate house on the old foundations, with murals, furniture and everything. There is even a taberna offering Roman food. Yes, I tried it - no fishy garum, though.

Villa in Borg, detail shot of the main building

The villa in Nennig (below) is famous for its 3rd century mosaic depicting scenes from the arena that once graced the entrance hall. With about 15 x 10 metres, it is the largest in situ mosaic north of the Alps. The mosaic is protected by a building. Some foundations of the villa have been excavated, but part of it lies beneath a church.

The mosaic of the villa in Nennig

Roman remains were not the only thing I visited, of course. Next will be some more castles for my collection.
 




The Lost Fort is a travel and history blog based on my journeys in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and central / eastern Europe. It includes virtual town and castle tours with a focus on history, museum visits, hiking tours, and essays on Roman and Mediaeval history, illustrated with my own photos.


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All texts and photos (if no other copyright is noted) are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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Location: Goettingen, Germany

I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who still hasn't got an Instagram account.
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Staffa
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Along the Coast of Norway - North of the Polar Circle

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A Baltic Sea Cruise

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Geology of the Curonian Spit






Roman History
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Roman History

General Essays

The Romans at War

Forts and Fortifications
Exercise Halls
Mile Castles and Watch Towers
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Cavalry Barracks

Roman Militaria

Armour
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Late Roman Helmets
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The pilum
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Swords

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Religion
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Isis Worship
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Roman Transport - Amphorae and Barrels
Roman Water Supply

Roman villae
Villa Urbana Longuich
Villa Rustica Wachenheim

Everyday Life
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The Legend of Alaric's Burial


Germania

Wars and Frontiers

Maps
Romans in Germania

Traces of the Pre-Varus Conquest
Roman Camp Hedemünden
New Finds in 2008

The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
Museum Park at Kalkriese

The Battle at the Harzhorn
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Along the Limes
The Cavalry Fort Aalen
Limes Fort Osterburken
Limes Fort Saalburg


Gallia Belgica

The Batavians

The Batavian Rebellion
A Short Introduction


Britannia

Roman Frontiers in Britain

The Hadrian's Wall
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The Fort at Segedunum / Wallsend


Mediaeval History

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Mediaeval Art and Craft

Mediaeval Art
Carved Monsters
The Choir Screen in the Cathedral of Mainz
The Gospels of Heinrich the Lion
Mediaeval Monster Carvings
The Viking Treasure of Hiddensee

Medieaval Craftmanship
Goldsmithery
Medical Instruments

Mediaeval Warfare

Mediaeval Weapons
Swords
Trebuchets

Castles and Fortifications
Dungeons and Oubliettes

Essays about Specific Topics

Feudalism

The History of Feudalism
The Beginnings
Feudalism in the 10th Century

Privileges and Special Relationships
The Privilege of the deditio
A Note on handgenginn maðr

The Hanseatic League

The History of the Hanseatic League
Introduction and Beginnings

Hanesatic Architecture
Examples of Brick Architecture

Goods and Trade
Stockfish Trade

The Order of the Teutonic Knights

Wars and Battles
The Conquest of Danzig
The Siege of Vilnius 1390

The Vikings

Viking Ships
The Nydam Ship


Germany

Geneaology

List of Mediaeval German Emperors

Geneaologies
Anglo-German Marriage Connections
Heinrich the Lion's Ancestors

Kings and Emperors

The Salian Dynasty
King Heinrich IV

House Welf and House Staufen
Emperor Otto IV, Introduction

Princes and Lords

Princes
Otto the Quarrelsome of Braunschweig-Göttingen
The Dukes of Braunschweig-Grubenhagen
Otto of Northeim
The Ludowing Landgraves of Thuringia
Albrecht II and Friedrich I of Thuringia

Counts and Local Lords
The Marshals of Ebersburg
The Counts of Everstein
The Counts of Hohnstein
The Lords of Plesse
The Counts of Reichenbach
The Counts of Winzenburg

Famous Feuds

Royal Troubles
Otto IV and Bishop Adalbert II of Magdeburg

Local Feuds
The Lüneburg Succession War
The Thuringian Succession War - Introduction
The Star Wars


England

Kings of England

King Henry IV
King Henry's Lithuanian Crusade

Normans, Britons, Angevins

Great Fiefs - The Honour of Richmond
The Dukes of Brittany and the Honour of Richmond
The Earldom of Richmond and the Duchy of Brittany

Contested Borders

Northumbria
King Stephen's Troubles with King David of Scots


Scotland

Kings of Scots

House Dunkeld
Malcolm III and Northumbria
Struggle for the Throne: Malcolm III to David I
King David and the Civil War, Part 1
King David and the Civil War, Part 2

Houses Bruce and Stewart
Robert the Bruce and Stirling Castle
The Early Stewart Kings

Scottish Nobles and their Quarrels

Clan Feuds
MacLeans and MacDonalds
A Scottish Wedding


Wales

Welsh Princes

The Princes of Gwynedd
The Rise of House Aberffraw

Rebels

A History of Rebellion
From Llywellyn ap Gruffudd to Owain Glyn Dŵr


Denmark

Kings of Denmark

House of Knýtlinga
Harald Bluetooth's Flight to Pomerania

Danish Rule in the Baltic Sea

The Duchy of Estonia
Danish Kings and German Sword Brothers


Norway

Kings of Norway

Foreign Relations
King Eirik's Scottish Marriages
King Håkon V's Swedish Politics
Beginnings of the Kalmar Union

A Time of Feuds

Famous Nobles and their Feuds
Alv Erlingsson of Tønsberg


Sweden

Troubles and Alliances

Scandinavian Unity
Beginnings of the Kalmar Union


Livonia
(Latvia and Estonia)

Towns of the Hanseatic League

Riga
The History of Mediaeval Riga

Tallinn
The History of Mediaeval Tallinn


Lithuania

The Northern Crusades

The Wars in Lithuania
The Siege of Vilnius 1390

Lithuanian Princes

The Geminid Dynasty
Troublesome Cousins - Jogaila and Vytautas


Poland

The Northern Crusades

The Conquest of Pomerania / Prussia
The Conquest of Danzig

Royal Dynasties

The Jagiełłonian Kings
Władysław Jagiełło and the Polish-Lithuanian Union


Bohemia
(Including Silesia and Moravia)

The Bohemian Kings of House Luxembourg
(to come)


Other Times

Prehistoric Times

Germany

Development of Civilisation
European Bread Museum, Ebergötzen
Open Air Museum Oerlinghausen

Orkney

Neolithic Orkney
The Neolithic Landscape of Orkney
Ring of Brodgar
Skara Brae
Life in Skara Brae

Scandinavia

Gotland
The Ship Setting of Gnisvärd


Post-Mediaeval History

Explorers and Discoveries

Explorers
Fram Expedition to the North Pole
Fram Expedition to the South Pole

Discoveries
Otto von Guericke and the Magdeburg Hemispheres
Raising a Wreck, Now and Then (Vasa Museum in Stockholm)

Biographies

European Nobility
Prince Wilhelm Malte of Putbus


Miscellanea

History in Literature and Music

History in Literature

Biographies of German Poets and Writers
Theodor Fontane

Historical Ballads by Theodor Fontane
(Translated by me)
Archibald Douglas
Gorm Grymme
Sir Walter Scott in Abbotsford
The Tragedy of Afghanistan

History in Opera

Belcanto and Historicism
Maria Padilla - Mistress Royal
The Siege of Calais in Donizetti's Opera

Not so Serious History

Romans
Building Hadrian's Wall
Playmobil Romans

Mediaeval Times
Kings Having a Bad Hair Day
The Case of the Vanished Wine Cask

Other
Rules for Writing Scottish Romances
Tourist Kitsch in St.Petersburg


Geology

Geological Landscapes

The Baltic Sea
Geology of the Curonian Spit
Chalk Cliffs on Rugia
Flint Fields on Rugia

The Harz
Bode Valley and Rosstrappe Cliff
The 'Hübichenstein' Rock
Karst Formations in the Southern Harz
The Lonau Falls
The Rhume Springs

Meissner / Kaufunger Wald
Blue Dome near Eschwege
Diabase and Basalt Formations
Karst Formations

Solling-Vogler
Raised Bog Mecklenbruch
Hannover Cliffs

The Shores of Scotland
Staffa

Fossils and Other Odd Rocks

Fossilized Ammonites
The Loket Meteorite


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