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unusual Strasbourg

Unusual Strasbourg: the Egyptian House

The Egyptian House, located in the Neustadt quarter (10 rue du Général Rapp), was designed by young, self-taught architect Franz Scheyder in the early 20th century. The building’s style is a blend of Art Nouveau and an idealized interpretation of ancient Egyptian esthetics. This unusual apartment building is easily recognizable by its large central fresco, and by its wrought-iron balconies wth stylized bat motifs.

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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! 

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unusual Strasbourg

Unusual Strasbourg: the Janus Fountain

Located just northeast of place Broglie (in square Markos Botzaris), the Janus Fountain, also known as The Birth of Civilization, was designed in 1988 by Alsatian illustrator Tomi Ungerer, on the occasion of Strasbourg’s 2000-year anniversary. The piece is named after Janus, the two-faced Roman god.

Tomi Ungerer pointed out that “the Rhineland [had been] at the heart of [his] work”. The two faces of the fountain represent the duality of French and Germanic culture in Strasbourg and Alsace. One of the faces is turned towards the historical city center, while the other points towards the old German imperial quarter of the Neustadt.

The aqueduct structure, composed of 5000 bricks, symbolizes the Roman origins of Strasbourg, where the military outpost of Argentoratum was once located.