The Island on the Silver River
The center of the city, particularly picturesque with its 15th and 16th century dwellings, is a small island encircled by the river Ill. Strolling through this area is probably the best way to experience the true atmosphere of the city. There is nothing more pleasurable than to wander the narrow streets bordered by medieval half-timbered homes, built close to one another, with their pointed rooftops pierced with dormers. Arising from amidst these medieval streets is the magnificent Notre-Dame Cathedral. The square where the cathedral sits however is never protected from the wind. Legend says that the devil hoped for his image to be forever represented in the cathedral and he therefore asked the wind to bring him to it and to wait outside as he entered the cathedral. When he could not find a statue of himself, he became enraged, and so violently stamped his foot that a stained glass window aspirated him. Since that day, the wind is still waiting for him outside!
The Origin of the Cathedral
According to history, and perhaps legend, Clovis, the King of the Francs, was at the origin of the construction of a church built in honor of the Virgin Mary at the exact location of the present day cathedral. Clovis did not share his wife Clothilde’s faith. She wanted her husband to become Catholic. Clovis, wishing to extend his kingdom to the present day Alsace region and Germany, attacked the Alamans (a German tribe) in Tolbiac in 496. After a difficult fight, he promised his wife’s God that he would convert to Catholicism and build a cathedral in honor of the Virgin Mary if he won this battle. Soon afterward, the King of the Alamans was mortally wounded by an arrow. The German soldiers, understanding that their God had abandoned them, fled, and Clovis won the difficult battle. True to his word, he was baptized a Catholic in Reims in 496, and the construction of the cathedral began in 510.
Musée alsacien- Museum