St Martin's Church

Colmar, France

In 1972, remains were archaeologically dug out of a first church, built in Carolingian style around the year 1000 on the site of current St. Martin church. Foundations of a second church built on that spot, in Romanesque style, were found as well. The present building had been constructed between 1234 and 1365 as the church of a college devoted to the cult of Martin of Tours, and since defunct. The current, conspicuous helmet crowning the bell tower had been added in 1572 in Renaissance style after a fire.

The church is surrounded by several portals of rather small dimensions, speaking relatively to the volume of the building. Some of these portals are bricked up. The largest portals display richly sculpted tympana. The coloured tile roof, reminding that of the Collégiale Saint-Thiébaut in Thann, is another striking feature of the church's exterior. The massive pillars that support the façade, an architectural rarity, give the front of the building a somewhat cumbersome aspect that contrasts with the airy look of the high apse windows. Another noteworthy detail of the building's exterior, testament to the troubled History of Jews in Alsace, is the presence of two 'Judensäue', one in the shape of a gargoyle, the other as a corner sculpture of a portal.

In the spacious interior, whose furniture had suffered bitter losses during the French Revolution, the most remarkable features are the exuberant Baroque organ case of 1755, (the mechanism and the pipes themselves, originally built by Johann Andreas Silbermann, were completely replaced in 1979), as well as the ambulatory, a unique feature in Alsatian churches. The many chapels that surround the choir display several medieval altars and statues. Of the remaining Gothic stained glass windows in the nave, the most noteworthy is a 13th century head of a beardless Christ, another rare feature.

Martin Schongauer's monumental Madonna of the Rose Bower was painted for the church in 1473 and stood there until 1972, when it was stolen. After its recovery in 1973, it was moved to the neighbouring former Dominican Church, another Gothic, but architecturally very different sanctuary.



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Founded: 1234-1365
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Late Capetians (France)

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4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Mini Rag (7 months ago)
A beautiful place is worship. Stained glass, loads of nooks to find a quiet place to contemplate.
Mita TRAN (2 years ago)
It is really historical, old and different. Crowded. Many old people visit here and enjoy cafe around church. i feel peaceful, clean, safe and friendly You can see pigeons, really big red maple trees. I enjoyed all time here.
Robin Irwin (2 years ago)
A church with lovely ornate animals on the outside of the building and very animated looking statues. At the time of visit, there were parts around the church dug up by an archeology group. Bones were found. Inside the church, beautiful stained windows are worth seeing.
Jean Hu (2 years ago)
Beautiful church with distinctive roof tiles. The same type you can find on the Koïfhus. There was some construction work on one side and the other is a parking. On the inside, we happened to visit during a ceremony. It definitely added some mystical touch to it.
Cilla (3 years ago)
Ah-maze-zing church! The architecture that went into this church is incredible. What’s even more beautiful are the church bells as your standing right in front of the church. I was amazed to say the least. Definitely worth seeing if you are in Colmar.
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