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Museum

Visit a museum in Strasbourg: the Musée de l’Œuvre Notre Dame

One of the only museums in Europe entirely dedicated to medieval and Renaissance art.

The Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame can be found on place du Château, practically at the foot of Strasbourg Cathedral. Not only is the museum devoted to the construction of the famous cathedral, it also covers seven centuries of art in Strasbourg upper Rhine region (Alsace, Baden, northwestern Switzerland, and the Palatinate), from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. The collections showcase the prestigious history of Strasbourg, which from the 13th to the 16th century was one of the main artistic hubs of the Holy Roman Empire.

The museum is located in a series of Gothic and Renaissance-style gabled houses, dating back to the same period as the pieces on show. The Maison de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame is also home to the head office of the Fondation de l’Œuvre Notre Dame (the Notre Dame Workshop Foundation). This institution was created in the early 13th century and is responsible for the upkeep, conservation, and restoration of Strasbourg Cathedral. The Foundation has been listed on UNESCO’s register for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage since December 2020.

The chronological layout shows a great diversity, alternating between medieval statues from the cathedral, sculptures (by Nicolas de Leyde), paintings (by Konrad Witz, Hans Baldung Grien, and Sébastien Stoskopff), stained-glass windows, altarpieces, tapestries, architectural drawings, gold- and silversmithery, and furniture, from the Romanesque period until 1681.

The tempo of the exhibit is perfectly balanced between the different rooms, the courtyard, and the Gothic garden (containing a vast array of aromatic herbs and medicinal plants, in keeping with the medieval garden tradition). The structure and architecture of the houses that make up the museum (spiral staircases, vaults, and archways) create the ideal backdrop for the collections. The façade of the cathedral, which you can spot several times as you wander around the museum, constitutes an anchor point for the visit, materializing the many centuries of history this remarkable work of art has seen.

Musée de l’Œuvre Notre Dame
📍 3 place du Château, Strasbourg

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Glimpse of

A glimpse of Strasbourg #3: Cathedral

Strasbourg’s Notre-Dame Cathedral is the main symbol of the city. It always pulls us in with its own kind of magnetism. Stopping by the Cathedral square and place du Château is always a part of the ritual for our walks around town, as if we had a subconscious need to visit a dear old friend.

We often like to sit down for a while in place du Château and gaze at this masterpiece of Gothic art. Almost every time, we spot a statue, low relief, or architectural detail we hadn’t noticed before. When the weather is nice, the sunlight and shadows dancing on the pink sandstone from the Vosges mountains gives the façade a distinctive hue.

Imagining thousands of craftsmen and architects working for 250 years to build this monument of over 100 000 tons of stone, without the techniques and technologies we have access to today, is beyond impressive. This immense work of art is the expression of skills passed down for centuries. The Cathedral has followed the city through countless generations, witnessing numerous wars and conflicts. It’s also inspired tales and legends, like the story of the Devil’s Wind.

Gazing at the Cathedral sometimes brings back childhood memories for Jérôme – when he would sit in class on the top floor of his school, and daydream while he admired the amazing view of the Cathedral. He could never get enough of looking at it, noticing how the stone façade would change colors with the seasons and the weather.

The Cathedral’s location in the very heart of Strasbourg, and its single, intricate stone spire reaching 142 meters, make it one of the city’s tallest, most majestic structures, as well as a landmark visible from several different spots. Its uniqueness gives it an even greater power of attraction for visitors and locals alike. It is truly Strasbourg’s most iconic building: Paris has the Eiffel Tower, and Strasbourg has its Cathedral. It is no coincidence that Notre-Dame de Strasbourg has been the most visited landmark in Alsace ever since it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988, along with the rest of the Grande Île.

And if this Grand Lady holds a special place in our hearts, it is also because we got married there, on a beautiful day in September 2018…