Obernai is about 25 km southwest of Strasbourg. It was founded in the 7th century as a Franconian settlement. It was the seat of the Merovingian Athich, the father of St. Odilia, who founded the nearby abbey Mont Sainte Odile.
In the 12th century, the town became a part of the Holy Roman Empire and was protected by a double city wall.
We start our city walk at the market square with the beautiful St. Odile fountain and the city hall. Behind it stands a 60 m high tower from the 16th century, the Belfry (Kapellturm). It is a leftover of a Virgin’s Chapel. The chapel, built at the end of the 13th century was torn off in 1873. Since the middle ages, the market square has been the site with most of the leading public buildings.
In the east, the square ends with the Corn Exchange, Halle du blé. It once served as a public butcher’s shop. Behind the town hall is a very narrow alley, the Rue Ruelle des Juifs.
From the town hall, the Rue du Chanoine Gyss leads to the Catholic parish church of St. Peter and Paul. To the right hand is the old six-bucket well in Renaissance style. The roof is a canopy that rests on three Corinthian columns.
At first, we go from the city hall westwards and inspect the Romanesque House. Built about 1240, it was part of a tithe court.
Then we continue northwards to the Star Place. The name derives from an inn that stood here. In former times the mill canal used to flow across the square.
Along the city wall, we arrive at St. Peter and Paul’s church. It is one of the largest Gothic churches in Alsace. Joseph Merklin built the organ inside. On the way back to the market square we pass the Six Buckets Well once again.
From the market square, we go to the Rue du General Gouraud and can take a look into the Fastinger Courtyard. Parts of the building date from the year 1418. Above the well we see the carved head of an ox, the emblem of the butchers.
We continue our way to the western city gate. Next to it is a synagogue built in 1876. The 205 Jewish citizens of the city had financed it. The first Jewish community in Obernai was mentioned in 1215.
You can see the white cross of the Memorial for the Malgré-nous (against our will) from afar. These were the Alsatians from the canton of Obernai compulsorily compelled to enter the German armed forces in the Second World War. 100,000 Alsatians, 30,000 Lorrainers, and 11,160 Luxembourgers were affected. 32,000 lost their lives and 10,500 remained missing.
From here you have a wonderful panorama view of Obernai and a view towards the Mont Sainte-Odile. Here is also the starting point of the Schenkenberg wine trail.
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