The medieval cathedral Arras, believed to have been one of the most beautiful in France, was completely demolished after the French Revolution. By the 1830s it was decided that Arras once again needed a cathedral and so the old church belonging to St. Vaast’s Abbey was used. The abbey church had itself been rebuilt starting in 1778, although progress was interrupted during the Revolution. Work on the site began again in 1815 and in 1833 the church, now designated a cathedral, was completed. The building was severely damaged by artillery fire in 1914 which destroyed most of the roof, the vaults and part of the exterior. Following the end of hostilities the cathedral was reconstructed to its pre-war appearance.
Market Day in Arras
Hotel de Ville, Arras
The first stereoview shows the Place des Héros in Arras c.1900. In the background is the city’s stupendous town hall, the Hotel de Ville. Construction on the hall started in 1463 and was completed in 1554 with the addition of a 77m-high belfry. Built in the Flamboyant Gothic style, the Hotel de Ville and its belfry were destroyed by the German bombardment of Arras in 1914. The town hall was gutted by fire on 07 October. The famous belfry collapsed at around 11.20am on the morning of 21 October after suffering artillery strikes. The cathedral had already been destroyed in July. Most of the Flemish Baroque houses surrounding the Place des Héros were also destroyed along with 75% of the historic city centre. After the war the town hall and the belfry were reconstructed in reinforced concrete. Externally at least the reconstructed building was very similar to the late medieval original with only small changes made to some of the tracery and a few of the window openings. The belfry at Arras is now part of the ‘Belfries of Belgium and France’ World Heritage Site.
The Kaiserstallung (Emperor’s Stables) was located next to Nuremberg’s medieval castle. Despite the name, the Kaiserstallung was built between 1494 and 1495 to serve as a gigantic granary. Part of it was also used to stable the emperor’s horses during imperial visits to the castle, which is how the building acquired its title. One distinctive feature was the five storey attic with windows at each level. The tower at the far end, with little turrets at each corner, was built in 1377 as part of the castle’s defences. The Kaiserstallung was converted into a youth hostel in 1938 but was almost completely destroyed during an air-raid in 1945. The exterior was reconstucted to its pre-war appearance and today the Kaiserstallung is once again used as a youth hostel.
‘Northern France – Arras – La Grande Place’
‘Arras – La Grande Place’
‘Arras – La Grande Place’
‘Les Arcades de la Grande Place’
Arras is known primarily for four things: its tapestries, its two vast public squares, its late Gothic town hall and belfry and the fact that it was severely damaged during World War One. The stereoviews show houses on the Grande Place, the largest of the squares, before and after the war. Together the two squares were lined with 155 merchant houses, all with their upper stories elevated on stone pillars to create a continuous arcade around the perimeters of the squares. The oldest house on the Grande Place dated to 1467 but most of the others dated to the 17th and 18th centuries. They were constructed in a beautiful Flemish Baroque style, the facades adorned with statuary, carvings, scrolls and pilasters. Nearly all of them were either destroyed completely or badly damaged by the German bombardment of the city in October 1914. The medieval town hall with its colossal Renaissance belfry was obliterated. Fortunately, in an act for which we should be forever thankful, France’s Historic Monuments Commission restored most of France’s war-damaged cities and towns back to their pre-war state, including the houses on the Grande Place. The work on the ruined squares and town hall at Arras was completed by 1924 and the city remains one of the most lovely in Europe.
The two stereoviews show the Hühnermarkt (Poultry Market) in Frankfurt’s medieval altstadt. It lay between the Römer (the 14th century town hall), and the cathedral, part of a dense network of squares and roads which dated back to the Middle Ages. The Hühnermarkt was surrounded by houses on all sides, many of which were medieval in origin with altered Baroque facades. One of these, known as the Esslinger House, belonged to Goethe’s uncle. A tiny part of it is just visible to the very far left in the first stereograph. In the centre of the square was a public water fountain with a bust of Friedrich Stolze, a 19th century novelist and poet born at a nearby house. The Hühnermarkt was completely destroyed during an air-raid in 1944 along with the vast majority of Frankfurt’s ancient city centre, although the bust of Stolze was later salvaged and re-erected elsewhere in the city. The old street plan was obliterated during post-war reconstruction but, at this very moment, work is underway to reinstate the Hühnermarkt along with several of its surrounding buildings. One of the houses to be reconstructed is the Esslinger House. Other reconstructions are planned for completion by 2016, a remarkable example of how historical architecture can linger in the collective memory to such an extent that people feel compelled to recreate it over seventy years after it was destroyed (a similar scheme has been in progress at Dresden since the late 1980s).
The Baroque palace at Bruchsal in Baden-Württemberg was built as the residence of the Prince-Bishops of Speyer in the 1720s. It’s particularly renowned for the staircase constructed in 1731 by Balthasar Neumann, the architect of the Würzburg Residence. The schloss and the town centre were almost completely destroyed during an air-raid in the last weeks of World War Two. With the town undefended and the Allied forces only 20km away the air-raid has proved to be one of the Allied powers’ more controversial bombing raids. The exterior of the schloss was painstakingly reconstructed after the war along with Neumann’s staircase and some of the finest interiors.
Neue Photographische Gesellschaft
The stereoview shows the east side of Ulm’s town hall. Construction began in the middle of the 14th century and various additions and alterations were made until it reached its final form in the 1540s. This is when the exterior was covered in frescoes by Martin Schaffner, a colleague of Hans Holbein the Elder. Five elaborate Gothic windows were added in the 1420s, two of which can be seen in the east wall. Known as the Emperor Window this window was once surrounded with carved figures of Charlemagne and two kings of Hungary and Bohemia. The statues currently on display are copies and the originals are in Ulm’s museum. One of the last Renaissance additions was an astronomical clock, added to the east wall in 1580. The building was thoroughly restored between 1898 and 1905 and the frescoes were renewed. In the background can be seen the spire of Ulm Minster. At nearly 162m it is the tallest church in the world. Fortunately the minster survived World War Two relatively unscathed but around 81% of the medieval city centre was destroyed and the town hall was severely damaged. The town hall at least has since been reconstructed to its pre-war appearance.