Colmar is a town and commune in the Haut-Rhin département of Alsace, France.
In 1999 Colmar had a population of 65,136.
Colmar is also the chief town of the arrondissement of Colmar, with 86,832 inhabitants.
read full wikipedia reference about Colmar, France
COLMAR , a fifty-minute train ride south
of Strasbourg, has sprawled unattractively on
both sides of the train tracks, but the old centre remains typically
and whimsically Alsatian, with crooked houses, half-timbered
and painted, on crooked lanes - all extremely pretty and very
touristy. Colmar's attractions don't stop at its buildings; it
is also the proud possessor of one of the last and most extraordinary
of all Gothic paintings - the altarpiece for St Anthony's monastery
at Issenheim, painted by Mathias Grünewald.
The pièce de résistance
of the Musée d'Unterlinden , housed in a former Dominican
convent at 1 rue d'Unterlinden (April-Oct daily 9am-6pm; Nov-March
daily except Tues 9am-noon & 2-5pm; closed public hols) is
the Issenheim altarpiece , originally designed as a single piece.
On the front was the Crucifixion, almost luridly expressive:
a tortured Christ with stretched ribcage and outsize hands turned
upwards, fingers splayed in pain, flanked by his pale, fainting
mother and SS John and Mary Magdalene. Then it unfolded, relative
to its function on feast days, Sundays and weekdays, to reveal
an Annunciation, Resurrection, Virgin and Child, and finally
a sculpted panel depicting saints Anthony, Augustine and Jerome.
Completed in 1515, the painting is affected by Renaissance innovations
in light and perspective while still rooted in the medieval spirit,
with an intense mysticism and shifts of mood in its subject matter.
Also worth a look is the collection of modern paintings in the
basement, which includes works by Picasso, Léger and Vasarely.
A short walk into the old
town, the Dominican church on rue des Serruriers (April-Dec daily
10am-1pm & 3-6pm) has some fine glass and, above all, a radiantly
beautiful altarpiece known as The Virgin in a Bower of Roses
, painted in 1473 by Martin Schongauer, who is also represented
in the Musée d'Unterlinden. At the other end of rue des
Serruriers you come to the Collégiale St-Martin on a café-lined
square. Known locally as "the cathedral", it's worth
a quick peek for its stonework and stained glass, as is the sixteenth-century
Maison Pfister , on the south side of the church, for its painted
panels. Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the nineteenth-century
sculptor responsible for New York's Statue of Liberty, was born
at 30 rue des Marchands. This has been turned into the Musée
Bartholdi (March-Dec daily except Tues 10am-noon & 2-6pm;
closed public hols), containing Bartholdi's personal effects,
plus the original designs for the statue, along with sundry Colmarabilia.
Rue des Marchands continues
south to the Ancienne Douane or Koïfhus , its gaily painted
roof tiles loudly proclaiming the city's medieval prosperity.
This is the heart of Colmar's old town, a short step away from
the archly picturesque quarter down the Grand' Rue, cut through
by the River Lauch and known as La Petite Venise . The dolly-mixture
colours of the old fishing cottages on quai de la Poissonnerie
are more touristy even than Strasbourg's Petite France. Twice
as tall, but similarly over-restored, are the black-and-white
half-timbered tanners' houses on quai des Tanneurs , which leads
off from the Koïfhus, with open verandas on the top floor
originally designed for drying hides.
There are two other museums
that you will see if you take a stroll through the old town:
the Musée Animé du Jouet et des Petits Trains ,
40 rue Vauban (July & Aug daily 10am-6pm; Sept-June daily
except Tues 10am-noon & 2-6pm), whose collection of toys
and toy trains is fun for children; and the unexciting Museum
d'Histoire Naturelle , 11 rue Turenne (March-Dec Mon & Wed-Sat
10am-noon & 2-6pm, Sun 2-6pm).
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