Jun 27, 2007
Colmar, in the Aslace, is a really cute little place. It's not the most exciting city in the world (especially not in the winter, which is super-off-peak), but it would make for a nice long weekend. While not that many people in the town speak English, almost all of them speak German, so you can get by with that (I did for two weeks, that's for sure).
There are tons of buildings to see that are really old and really pretty. Even the buildings that aren't marked as historic (and really, the city has done a nice job of posting signs with info in French, English, and German outside the important buildings and areas -- and there are a lot of them) are really nice to see. From the Maison des Tetes (which has 106 faces and animal heads on it) to the Pfister House to the St. Jean house (which was built as two wings perpendicular to the street, with a courtyard in the middle), and the Fishmonger's district, Tanner's district, and Petite Venice, there is a lot to see. Those canals.... I see them as being potentially dangerous for the people whose houses open out to a small walkway and then a bridge over a canal to the street. I mean, how do people come home from the bar at night and not end up in the canals? Of course, you can definitely see everything in an afternoon. and still have time to hit a museum.
The main museum that people see is the Unterlinden, which is in an old convent or other churchy-type place. The Issenheim Alterpiece is at the Unterlinden, which, to quote the Lonely Planet guide, "has been acclaimed as one of the most dramatic and moving works of art ever created." Now, I'm not really one for the religious artwork, so perhaps I am not the best person to comment on it. The sculpture part that was the center of the Issenheim, though, is pretty cool. The first floor of the Unterlinden is pretty much all religious artwork. The second floor, though, is totally worth the 7 euros it cost, as there is lots of Alsatian and French stuff, and not just artwork.
I also went to the Bartholdi Museum. Bartholdi, if you were not aware, made the Statute of Liberty. He made a lot of other statues and monuments, and you can see models of them -- and some of the full-size ones, too -- at the museum. He was born in Colmar, thus the museum. He also took some really cool photographs from a trip to Egypt in 1856, which are on display, and the rooms upstairs are beautiful (though I'm not sure how much I would like plates and vases on the ceiling in my house). There is also a room devoted to Alsatian Jewry that has some really beautiful religious objects (17th c. arc, with Torah covers inside -- they looked a bit thin to actually have the Torah inside) as well as artwork. There is also a model of a synagogue that looks like the one in Colmar, though the interior is a bit different than what I saw went to celebrate Purim.
I tried some flammenkuchen for dinner one night. A lot of the other Alsatian dishes scared me (aside from the fact I'm picky, but anything that has "knuckles" in its names does not sound like something I would like to digest). The flammenkuchen is kind of like having a pizza on a thick crepe and without the tomato sauce. It was ok.... I think I would get a variety of items on it next time rather than the variety of cheeses.
If I were in Colmar in the spring or summer, I would totally venture out to wine country, and visit Haut-Koenigsbourg (ok, so I have a thing for castles. But good ol' William II restored the medieval fortified castle, so how can you not visit?)
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