Ottmarsheim, l'abbaye St. Pierre et Paul, 1030. Photo/Foto: TES.

Romanesque Art in Alsace

Romanesque art in the Alsace differs from the neighbouring regions but has many similarities.

Alsace is located in the Upper Rhine region and has always been a crossroads of Latin and Germanic culture. It can also be seen in the influences of Lombardy and other Italian regions, Burgundy, Auvergne and other regions in France, the Rhine region and southern Germany, and north-western Switzerland.

After the division of the Carolingian Empire in 843 (Treaty of Verdun), Alsace initially belonged to the Middle Kingdom, which stretched from what is now the Netherlands to Italy. This empire did not last long and was again divided among other rulers.

The last Carolingians were followed by the kings and emperors (from 962) of the Holy Roman Empire: the Ottonians (919-1024), the Salians (1024-1125) and the Staufers (1138-1250).

Ottmarsheim Abbey. Photo: TES

The first Romanesque art in Alsace dates from the 11th century, at the end of Ottonian rule. The architecture of this period bears witness to the Carolingian tradition (for example, in Ottmarsheim, Epfig, Saint-Ulric d’Avolsheim, Dompeter, Altenstadt or Hohatzenheim).

Above all, the octagonal interior of the Ottmarsheim monastery church is reminiscent of the Aachen Cathedral, which Charlemagne built (747-814) between 796 and 804.

The 12th century and the first quarter of the 13th century were the golden age of Romanesque art in Alsace. This heyday coincided with the reign of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, especially under Frederick I, better known as Frederick Barbarossa (1122-1190).

The Route Romane d’Alsace (Romanesque Road in Alsace) promotes this artistic and cultural heritage. The route covers the entire region and includes more than 120 sites.

This route shows Alsace’s original Romanesque style and the exchange with the abovementioned regions.

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