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unusual Strasbourg

Unusual Strasbourg: the Büchmesser

Located at the corner of rue Mercière and place de la Cathédrale, the belly-measuring column, or “Büchmesser” in Alsatian, was built in 1567 and restored in 2016.

This pink sandstone column is a Strasbourg icon and the vestige of a tradition dating back to the 14th century. 

The bourgeois members of the City Council would use it to gauge their portliness every year for the Schwoertag, which was the day they would swear their allegiance to the Constitution. After being sworn in, they would visit the various guilds in town and attend a feast. Afterwards, if they were unable to slip sideways through the space between the column and the wall of the building, it was time for them to go on a diet. 

Try it yourself, by slipping wetween the belly-measuring column and the wall. The space is 35 centimeters wide!