As soon as you enter Colmar, you feel yourself in a town of history and tradition, careful, before all to maintain intact the precious reserves left to it by centuries, reserve of glory, reserve of art, reserve of liberty. Colmar was a free city of the Empire and has not forgotten it.
Because of the caprices of its plan and the variety of its construction, the old Alsatian city is delightful. Everything here is irregular: not two houses show the same design or the same height; two squares obstinately avoid all symmetry; the streets wind about with singular detours all these salients, all this angles, all these curves produce unexpected and exquisite plays of light and shades.
Low gates with large arches, casements with delicate mullions, wooden galleris with elegant ballustrade, half effaced frescoes, sculptured consoles and beams, fine medallions garlanded with ciphers, towers and belfries, belvederes and bay-windows; here, we behold the whole decoration of the Renaissance which discloses a particular taste, peculiarly Alsatian.
The delicious Pfister House, rue des Marchands, is among the most typical sixteenth century houses, some preserving a touch of Gothic, others imitating the design of Venitian palaces, among the purely Alsatians mansions with uncovered beams, whose high step gables have the air of pagoda, with their redans decorated with crescents and little obelisks. In addition, there are noble french structures of the eighteenth century, with pilasters, pediments and garlands. And all this pell-mell is charming.
To taste all the charm of Colmar,it is necessary to wander at twilight through the southern quater which is traversed by the Launch and to find the bridge of Saint-Peter at the edge of the town. On the two banks, very ancient houses seem to rise on tiptoe to peek at the little river over the foliage of their tiny gardens. The overlapping roofs merge into each other in the twilight dominated by the tower of Saint Martin. Among this quarter lie the Tanner’s quarter, the Halle du Marché, and the Petite Venise.
The museum of Colmar is installed in the building of the ancient Dominican convent of Uterlinden. This monastery was rich and celebrated in the Middle-Age. Several of its nuns had visions and numerous miracles are reputed to have occurred there.