Saint Ulrich of Altenstadt (Dennis Aubrey)


The Église Saint Ulrich of Altenstadt in the Alsace is one of the oldest in the region. Originally constructed in the 11th and 12th centuries, it is a beautiful example of the regional Romanesque style. The simple chevet and clocher mark the style very clearly.

View of chevet from north, Eglise Saint Ulrich, Altenstadt (Bas-Rhin)  Photo by Dennis Aubrey

View of chevet from north, Eglise Saint Ulrich, Altenstadt (Bas-Rhin) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

The interior is composed of a nave and two side aisles. The nave has five bays with the arches supported by heavy piers. A clerestory level provides illumination in the nave. The nave, like the side aisles, is covered with a flat wooden roof. The apse chancel and apse are separated from the nave by the strong rounded chancel arch. In the distance, the arch to the apse is ogive, probably indicative of the second phase of construction in the 12th century.

Nave, Eglise Saint Ulrich, Altenstadt (Bas-Rhin), Photo by Dennis Aubrey

Nave, Eglise Saint Ulrich, Altenstadt (Bas-Rhin), Photo by Dennis Aubrey

The side aisles are low with wooden ceilings. The thick exterior walls can afford the many large and deep window openings because there is no great weight of a stone vault to support. In the distance can be seen the echeloned apsidal chapel.

North side aisle, Eglise Saint Ulrich, Altenstadt (Bas-Rhin) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

North side aisle, Eglise Saint Ulrich, Altenstadt (Bas-Rhin) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

Saint Ulrich is remarkable for its beautiful modern stained glass windows by the maître-verrier Max Ingrand, installed in 1963. These provide a lustrous glow to the side aisles and to the church as a whole.

South side aisle, Eglise Saint Ulrich, Altenstadt (Bas-Rhin)  Photo by Dennis Aubrey

South side aisle, Eglise Saint Ulrich, Altenstadt (Bas-Rhin) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

PJ’s reverse shot to the side aisle shows the groin vault for this section of the transept and the stairway to the clocher in the distance.

Side aisle, Eglise Saint Ulrich, Altenstadt (Bas-Rhin)  Photo by PJ McKey

Side aisle, Eglise Saint Ulrich, Altenstadt (Bas-Rhin) Photo by PJ McKey

PJ and I were pleasantly surprised by this church, which was just a few miles from our primary target, the Église Saints-Pierre-et-Paul of Wissembourg, just two short kilometers away. We came here in the morning and the east light shone beautifully in the stained glass windows.

Location: 49.030287° 7.968807°

3 responses to “Saint Ulrich of Altenstadt (Dennis Aubrey)

  1. I love basilicas with timber roofs. It’s interesting that ceiling of the aisles is level rather than sloped; in the timber-roofed basilicas that I’ve seen the latter is true, at least that I remember– I could be wrong. I especially like the photo of the south aisle, the pared-down style of the modern glazing is in beautiful harmony with the simplicity of the stonework.

    • Karen, the aisle roofs have a slight slope down to the outside, so this is consistent with your memories of others like this. The windows by Ingrand are wonderful, aren’t they. The church glows with their light.

  2. There is something so wonderfully satisfying in these simple Romanesque churches – admittedly much of the original decor is gone (fresco/statuary/etc) and it is possible that any painting on the ceiling timbers was removed a long time ago. But this does not detract from the peaceful charm of such places.

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