(Colmar, ; Alsatian
pronounced [ˈkolməʁ]; Colmar, between 1871-1918 and 1940-1945 also Kolmar
) is a town and commune
in the Haut-Rhin département
, of which it is the préfecture
(capital). Colmar is also the seat of the highest jurisdiction in Alsace, the Cour d'appel de Colmar
. It is situated along the "Alsacian wine route
" and considers itself the "Colmar capitale.jpg
" (Capitale des vins d'Alsace
In 2006 Colmar had a population of 67,163. Colmar is also the chief town of the arrondissement of Colmar, with 86,832 inhabitants.
Colmar is the home town of the painter and engraver Martin Schongauer and the sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi. The city is renowned for its well preserved old town, its numerous architectural landmarks and its museums, among which the Unterlinden Museum.
Colmar was founded in the 9th century. This was the location where Charles the Fat held a diet in 884. Colmar was granted the status of a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire in 1226. During the Thirty Years' War, the city was taken by the armies of Sweden in 1632, who held it for two years. The city was conquered by France under Louis XIV in 1697.
In 1679 (Treaties of Nijmegen) Colmar was ceded to France. With the rest of Alsace, Colmar was annexed by the newly formed German Empire in 1871 as a result of the Franco-Prussian War. It returned to France after World War I, was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1940, and then reverted to French control after the battle of the "Colmar Pocket" in 1945.
Colmar is 64 kilometers (40 miles) south-southwest of Strasbourg, at 48.08°N, 7.36°E, on the Lauch River, directly to the east of the Vosges Mountains. It is connected to the Rhine by a canal.
Colmar has a sunny microclimate and is the driest city in France, with an annual precipitation of just 550 mm, making it ideal for Alsace wine. Colmar is also the Capital of Alsatian wine.
The dryness results from the town's location next to mountains which force clouds arriving from the west to rise, and much of their moisture to condense and fall as precipitation over the higher ground, leaving the air warmed and dried by the time it reaches Colmar.
Relatively spared by the destructions of the French Revolution and the wars of 1870-1871, 1914-1918 and 1939-1945, the cityscape of old-town Colmar is homogenous and renowned among tourists. The city area of the city crossed by canals of the river Lauch, and which formerly served as the butcher's, tanner's and fishmonger's area, is now called "little Venice" (la Petite Venise). Colmar's cityscape (and neighbouring Riquewihr's) served for the design of the Japanese animated film Howl's Moving Castle.
Colmar's secular and religious architectural landmarks reflect eight centuries of Germanic and French architecture and the adaptation of their respective stylistic language to the local customs and builiding materials (sandstone
, timber framing
- Maison Adolph - 14th century (German Gothic)
- Koifhus, also known as Ancienne Douane - 1480 (German Gothic)
- Maison Pfister - 1537 (German Renaissance).
- Ancien Corps de garde - 1575 (German Renaissance)
- Maison des Chevaliers de Saint-Jean - 1608 (German Renaissance)
- Maison des Têtes - 1609 (German Renaissance)
- Poêle des laboureurs - 1626 (German Baroque)
- Ancien Hôpital - 1744 (French Classicism)
- Tribunal de grande instance - 1771 (French Classicism)
- Hôtel de ville - 1790 (French Classicism)
- Théâtre municpal - 1849 (French Neoclassicism)
- Marché couvert - 1865 (French Neo-Baroque). The city's covered market, built in stone, bricks and cast iron, still serves today.
- Préfecture - 1866 (French Neo-Baroque)
- Water tower - 1886. Oldest still preserved water tower in Alsace. Out of use since 1984.
- Gare SNCF - 1905 (German Neo-Baroque)
- Cour d'appel - 1906 (German Neo-Baroque)
- Église Saint-Martin - 1234-1365. The largest church of Colmar and one of the largest in Haut-Rhin. Displays some early stained glass windows, several gothic and Renaissance sculptures and altars, a grand baroque organ case. The choir is surrounded by a series of gothic chapels, a unique feature in alsacian churches.
- Église des Dominicains - 1289-1364. Now disaffected as a church, displays Martin Schongauer's masterwork La Vierge au buisson de roses as well as 14th century stained glass windows and baroque choir stalls.
- Église Saint-Matthieu - 13th century. Gothic and Renaissance stained glass windows and mural paintings, as well as a wooden and painted ceiling.
- Chapelle Saint-Pierre - 1742-1750. Classicist chapel of a former Jesuit college.
- Synagogue - 1843 (Neoclassicism)
- Fontaine de l'Amiral Bruat - 1864 (Statue by Bartholdi)
- Fontaine Roeselmann - 1888 (Statue by Bartholdi)
- Fontaine Schwendi - 1898 (Statue by Bartholdi)
- Monument du Général Rapp - 1856 (first shown 1855 in Paris. Statue by Bartholdi, his earliest major work)
- Monument Hirn - 1894 (Statue by Bartholdi)
- Unterlinden Museum - one of the main museums in Alsace. Displays the Isenheim Altarpiece, a large collection of medieval, Renaissance and baroque Upper-Rhenish paintings and sculptures, archeological artefacts, design and international modern art.
- Musée Bartholdi - the birthplace of Frédéric Bartholdi show his life and work through paintings, drawings, family objects and numerous palster, metal and stone sculptures.
- Musée d'histoire naturelle et d'ethnographie - the zoological and ethnographical museum of Colmar was founded in 1859. Besides a large collection of stuffed animals and artefacts from former French and German colonies in Africa and Polynesia, it also houses a collection of ancient Egyptian works
- Musée du jouet - the town's toy museum, founded 1993
- Musée des usines municipales - industrial and technological museum in a former factory, dedicated to the history of everyday technology.
Colmar shares the Université de Haute-Alsace
with the neighbouring, larger city of Mulhouse
. Of the approximately 8,000 students of the UHA, circa 1,500 study at the Institut universitaire de technologie
(IUT) Colmar, at the Colmar branch of the Faculté des Sciences et Techniques
and at the Unité de Formation et de Recherche Pluridisciplinaire d'Enseignement Professionnalisé Supérieur
Since 1980, Colmar is home to the international summer festival of classical music Festival de Colmar
(also known as Festival international de musique classique de Colmar
). In its first version (1980 to 1989), it was placed under the artistic direction of the German conductor Karl Münchinger
. Since 1989, it is helmed by the Russian violinist and conductor Vladimir Spivakov
Colmar is an affluent city whose primary economic strength lies in the flourishing tourist industry. But it is also the seat of several large companies: Timken (European seat), Liebherr (French seat), Leitz (French seat)...
Every year since 1947, Colmar is host to what is now considered as the biggest annual commercial event as well as the largest festival in Alsace , the Foire aux vins d'Alsace (Alsacian wine fair).
Born in Colmar
- Martin Schongauer (1450–1491), painter and engraver
- Jean-François Rewbell (1747–1807), diplomat and revolutionist
- Jean Rapp (1771–1821), general
- Armand Joseph Bruat (1796–1855), admiral
- Georges-Charles de Heeckeren d'Anthès (1812–1895), politician, killer of Alexander Pushkin in a duel
- Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi (1834–1904), sculptor, created the original Statue of Liberty.
- Jean-Jacques Waltz (1873–1951), drawer and caricaturist
- Guy Roux (born 1938), football coach
- Pierre Moerlen (1952–2005), musician
- Thomas Bloch (born 1962), musician
- Marc Keller (born 1968), football player
- Amaury Bischoff (born 1987), football player
Colmar is twinned
- Abingdon, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
- Eisenstadt, Austria
- Győr, Hungary
- Lucca, Italy
- Princeton, New Jersey, United States
- Schongau, Bavaria, Germany
- Sint-Niklaas, Belgium