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Colmar ( , ; Alsatian: Colmer ; , between 1940-1945 under Nazi rule: Kolmar) is a commune in the Haut-Rhinmarker department in Alsacemarker in north-eastern Francemarker.

It is the capital of the department. Colmar is also the seat of the highest jurisdiction in Alsace, the appellate court.

It is situated along the Alsatian Wine Route and considers itself to be the "Capital of Alsatian Wine" (capitale des vins d'Alsace).

In 2006, the city of Colmar had a population of 65,713 and the metropolitan area of Colmar had a population of 120,367. Colmar is the center of the arrondissement of Colmar, which has 144,700 inhabitants in 2006.

Colmar is the home town of the painter and engraver Martin Schongauer and the sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi, who designed the Statue of Libertymarker. The city is renowned for its well preserved old town, its numerous architectural landmarks and its museums, among which the Unterlinden Museummarker.


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 Swedenmarker 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 Pocketmarker" in 1945.

The Colmar Treasure, hidden during the Black Death, was discovered here in 1863.


The canal which runs through Colmar.
Colmar is south-southwest of Strasbourgmarker, at 48.08°N, 7.36°E, on the Lauch River, directly to the east of the Vosgesmarker Mountains. It is connected to the Rhinemarker 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. It is considered the capital of the Alsatian wine region.

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.


"Little Venice"
Musée Bartholdi
Mostly 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 area crossed by canals of the river Lauch, and which formerly served as the butcher's, tanner's and fishmonger's quarter, is now called "little Venicemarker" (la Petite Venise). Colmar's cityscape (and neighbouring Riquewihrmarker's) served for the design of the Japanese animated film Howl's Moving Castle.

Architectural landmarks

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 building materials (pink and yellow Vosgesmarker sandstone, timber framing).

Secular buildings

  • 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 municipal - 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)

Religious buildings

  • Église Saint-Martinmarker - 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 an ambulatory opening on 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 Parismarker. Statue by Bartholdi, his earliest major work)
  • Monument Hirn - 1894 (Statue by Bartholdi)
  • Statue "Les grands soutiens du monde" − 1902 (in the courtyard of the Bartholdi Museum)


  • Unterlinden Museummarker - 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 furniture as well as numerous plaster, metal and stone sculptures. A section of the museum is further dedicated to the local Jewish community's heritage.
  • 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 Egyptianmarker items.
  • 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.


The Municipal Library of Colmar (Bibliothèque municipale de Colmar) owns one of the richest collections of incunabula in France, with over 2,300 volumes. This is quite an exceptional number for a city that is neither the main seat of a university, nor of a college, and has its explanation in the disowning of local monasteries, abbeys and convents during the French Revolution and the subsequent gift of their collections to the town.


Colmar shares the Université de Haute-Alsace with the neighbouring, larger city of Mulhousemarker. 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 Professionalisé Supérieur (UFR P.E.P.S.).


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: capital of Alsatian wines.
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).

Notable people

The following personalities were born in Colmar:

Twin towns

Colmar is twinned with:


Image:Place cathedrale colmar.jpg|Old town timber framed housesImage:Colmar - Alsace.jpg|Old town timber framed housesImage:Colmar 1.JPG|Old town timber framed housesImage:FR Colmar 20080828 004.jpg|"Little Venice"Image:FR Colmar 20080828 026.jpg|Maison des têtesFile:Maison Pfister detail.jpg|Close-up of Maison PfisterImage:Ancienne douane Colmar.jpg|Koifhus - front buildingImage:FR Colmar 20080828 018.jpg|Koifhus - rear buildingImage:Tribunal de grande instance (Colmar).JPG|Law courtImage:FR Colmar 20080828 009.jpg|Covered marketImage:Colmar - Watertower.jpg|Water towerImage:Colmar - Court d'Appelle.jpg|Appellate courtImage:Gare colmar.jpg|Railway stationImage:Stadtbrunnen (Colmar).JPG|Old well, bearing the date "1584"Image:Amiral bruat.jpg|Fontaine BruatImage:Schwendibrunnen.jpg|Fontaine SchwendiImage:Gustave-Adolphe Hirn.jpg|Monument HirnImage:Musee d Unterlinden colmar.jpg|Musée d'UnterlindenmarkerImage:ColmarIsenheimerAltar.jpg|Isenheim Altarpiece inside Musée d'UnterlindenFile:Statue of Liberty Replica in Colmar.jpg|12m high Statue of Libertymarker replica

See also


External links

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