Colmar, France Hotels, Resorts & Hotel Accommodations

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COLMAR
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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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