Sunday, February 26, 2017

Exploring Alsace

Wayne at his Meme's Home, Belfort

We picked up our rental car this morning and drove to Belfort where Wayne's grandmother was born. The drive there is through beautiful Alsatian wine country where acre upon acre of grape vines are waiting for spring to bring forth the grape.

As we drove into Colmar a smaller replica of The Statue of Liberty stood at the entrance to the town, birthplace of Frederick Bartholdi. We stopped in Colmar to view the Isenheim Altarpiece by Mathias Grunewald.  I have wanted to see this piece for as long as I can remember.  What a fortunate occasion to find that it was on route to Belfort.  The altarpiece has influenced many other artists from Jasper Johns to Picasso.  The original construction of two sets wings in three configurations has been broken apart so that visitors can see all the components.  It is displayed in the Unterlinden Museum, a former 13th-century Dominican religious sisters' convent.

Belfort was not at all as I expected, a quaint, medieval village with geese running through the streets and children in berets flying their kites.  Instead it was large and heavy with industry.  Wayne's Meme's house appeared to be abandoned.  Our calculations figure she was in the house around 1890.  The old historic district is pretty and the citadel is amazing with huge earthworks. At the citadel sits the Lion of Belfort a monumental sculpture by Bartholdi that stood for the people's resistance during the Franco-Prussian siege.  

Alsacian Plain with Swiss Alps in the Distance

On our return to Strasbourg we drove into the wine country and up above the plain of Alsace to the Haut-Kroningsbourg Castle.  The original castle was burnt in 1462 and rebuilt twice by 1867.  We knew this late in the day the Castle would be closed but wanted to see the view.  It was worth the drive to see the Plain and the Black Forest and a glimpse of the Swiss Alps.  Additional pictures at flickr.