A nice little town at northeastern France, directly at the border to Germany. Strasbourg was taken over by Germany twice. Considering the vast number of half timbered houses and Europe’s war happy history, it’s a miracle that the historical old town survived the centuries unharmed. No surprise then, that it became an UNESCO world heritage site.
Petite France is a part of Strasbourg’s historical city center. Dozens of inclined, half timbered houses on the shores of the three canals that float through the area make Petite France the most picturesque part of Strasbourg. It looks like straight out of a fairy tale.
However, it wasn’t always that romantic…
In the late 15th century, there was a hospital for syphilis patients located in the area that is nowadays known as Petite France. Those days, many of the returning french soldiers were infected by the sexually transmitted disease. Syphilis was so common among them, it was called “Franzosenkrankheit” (“French disease”) in German. And that’s actually where the name Petite France comes from: From the little hospital for the people with the french disease.
In medieval times the area was simply the tanners district. Now, if you consider that tanners used urine to clean the hides, you can probably imagine that it used to be a rather filthy place…
Please excuse me, if this scattered your romantic fantasies.
The cathedral is impressive by itself. It’s highlight is the astronomical clock which would be better described by the term “mechanical computer”. Beside the time, it properly calculates and displays the date of Easter and the constellation of the planets as they revolve around the sun. A 30 minutes presentation video is shown every day at noon, explaining the clock’s history and inner mechanics.
The interior of this protestant church is in dire need of renovation. The wall paintings are heavily weathered, which exude a strong medieval atmosphere. There’s also a small monastery with a nice garden accessible from inside St. Peter’s church.
Have a look at Strasbourg’s official website for additional information.
Next month, we’re going to take a look at castle Runkelstein, a.k.a. Roncolo in Bolzano, South Tirol, Italy.
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