ⓘ Imperial Quarter of Metz. The Imperial Quarter of Metz is a district of the city of Metz, in the region of Grand-Est, in eastern France, initially built between ..

Imperial Quarter of Metz

ⓘ Imperial Quarter of Metz

The Imperial Quarter of Metz is a district of the city of Metz, in the region of Grand-Est, in eastern France, initially built between 1902 and 1914 by the government of the ruling German Wilhelmine Empire, during the period of annexation of Alsace-Lorraine. Originally named Neue Stadt ", it is today divided between the administrative district of New Ville and Metz-Centre.

It is principally represented by the "Imperial Triangle," delineated by the area in between the water tower of the main railway station, St. Thereses Church, and the Serpenoise Gate. But the district extends beyond this core to include other edifices of the same period, such as the Governors Palace, situated on the Place Giraud, behind the Serpenoise Gate.

Aside from the more important Neustadt district of Strasbourg, the Imperial Quarter of Metz contains the most complete and best-preserved examples of urbanism under the German Second Reich. In Germany itself, the comparable districts of such cities often suffered the bombardment by Allied forces in the Second World War. The Imperial Quarter is remarkable for the multiplicity of architectural styles represented, despite the voluntary Germanization assumed by the city.


1. History

Up until the beginning of the twentieth century, the district was generally referred to as the Neue Stadt "New City", an area where the German authorities had decided to build a new extension south of the historic center of Metz. The enlargement of the city used the land ceded by the military garrison thanks to the removal of the old medieval city walls by order of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1898, but most of the development only gathered steam starting in 1902. The moniker "New City" was reborn in the name of the administrative district "Nouvelle Ville."

This urbanization project proceeded under the guise of the modernization of the city of Metz, but equally under a marked desire of Wilhelms government to Germanize the city. Metz essentially had existed as a city characterized by a French building tradition since the Middle Ages, and despite its inclusion within the boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire, the use of High Gothic architecture was evident in monuments such as the cathedral, which was less Germanic in character than the Cathedral of Strasbourg. Wilhelm II hoped to give the Metz a much more Germanic identity, breaking with the policies instituted under the reign of his grandfather Wilhelm I, wherein stylistic continuity in architecture had generally been respected.

The urban guidelines of 1903 instituted a different status to the north side of the "ring" of open land that was opened up with the demolition of the old ramparts. It stipulated that this area should consist of houses encircles by gardens, having a maximum height of three floors, in order to soften the transition between the older buildings of the city center and the new, taller apartment houses that would populate the areas to the south. The villas on what is today known as the Avenue Foch in Metz exude this kind of neat and tidy character, reflecting the traditions of the period, and use a diverse, usually historicist, set of styles.


2. Urbanism and General Morphology

The Imperial Quarter of Metz is distinguished by broader streets in a ring of urban development loosely defined by its main artery, the Avenue Foch. It is bordered to the north by the old city and to the south by the train lines and yards that form a man-made barrier. In keeping with the general tenets of Haussmannian nineteenth-century urban development, the Imperial Quarter is split up with regularity by large spaces such as public squares and isolated edifices that are distinguished from their neighbors by their style or their verdant surroundings. Thus, despite the dominating presence of rows of apartment buildings, certain parts of the district, such as the Vacquiniere, to the southwest, neighboring the city of Montigny-les-Metz, are composed entirely of mansions. The army installations, which predate the urban development of this area, are equally concentrated to the northwest.

The general organization of the space hinges on two main plazas, the Place Raymond-Mondon formerly the Place Imperiale, and the Place du General-de-Gaulle, which forms the large forecourt to the main railway station, accessed from the rue Gambetta. When it was known as the Place Imperiale, the Place Raymond-Mondon symbolized otherwise the associated powers of the Kaiser. These included financial power, symbolized by the Imperial Bank; the corporate powers of the Chamber of Commerce; military power through the view of the Prince-Frederick-Charles army barracks; and the religious power with a church, whose construction was canceled due to the First World War. This plaza also constituted the junction between the new city and the old districts, as indicated by the preservation of the medieval Tour Camoufle, part of the old city walls.


2.1. Urbanism and General Morphology Architecture

The district is home to a remarkable diversity of architecture. It served, in effect, as a stylistic laboratory for the German architects in the city during the Second Reich. Historicist styles characterize the majority of the buildings, but respond often to the desire of the Imperial state to Germanize the city, which meant that many buildings use architectural styles that recall the German Middle Ages. In turn, the parts of the district constructed during the interwar period 1919–1939 retain the trend of continuing modernization of the city, but in a way that recalls its French heritage.

The period of urbanization during the 1900s and 1910s often revives architectural terms such as Rhenish-Romanesque-revival for Metzs railway station and the main post office, or Flemish-Renaissance-revival for the Governors Palace. Everywhere one notes a multiplicity of styles in the architecture of private buildings of the era, a development easily visible in the eclectic composition of structures on the Avenue Foch, mixing a kind of Neoclassical rigor with elements of Art Nouveau or traditional Alsacian residences. On the other hand, certain francophile architects maintained their symbolic opposition to the newly entrenched German regime through their preference for neoclassical, Haussmannian apartment buildings. Still others were inspired by currents such as the Vienna Secession, manifest in the so-called Crystal Palace, whose façade was only rediscovered in the 1960s.

The architectural decoration is equally distinctive for its variety of colors, dominated by the grey and pink of buildings constructed of sandstone and the yellow of those constructed out of the pierre de Jaumont, a type of local limestone.

The interwar period, when Metz reverted to French rule, was marked by a "revanchist" architecture, wherein one finds the large-scale use of Haussmannian Neoclassicism and a Baroque revival. These styles harmonize well with the heavy Neoclassicism characteristic of French architecture during the Belle Epoque of roughly 1890–1914. These remain, however, less ostentatious overall than the German constructions throughout the rest of the district, out of respect in planning strategies for historic structures, as codified in an ordinance of the city of Metz between 1911 and 1939. In the 1930s, modern architecture also brought the implantation of Art Deco, already in full bloom elsewhere around the world.


3. Recognition

Even though it is depicted in postcards of Metz from the early twentieth century, the Imperial Quarter was not well-appreciated by Messins of the interwar period. They instead favored the nationalism of the Lorraine native Maurice Barres, who castigated the architecture of Metzs railway station which had been designed by the Berlin architect Jurgen Kroger and built between 1905 and 1908: "One welcomes the dignified ambition of a cathedral, but this is only tortuous, an immense pate of meat."

However, starting in the 1980s the Imperial Quarter gained new favor with both local officials and residents. Several campaigns for the renovation and refurbishment of the architectural patrimony of the district began, such as the cleaning of building façades, most notably those of the train station, which had blackened over the years. By 2014, the remaining restorations to take place encompassed a much smaller scale, such as those to the façade of the former Hotel du Globe, on the Place du General de Gaulle, facing the train station.

The district was nominated by the city for inscription by UNESCO onto its list of World Heritage Sites in June 2007 due to several features of original urban planning and architectural character:

  • The variety of colored stone used in construction, such as the pierre de Jaumont, a yellow stone; pink sandstone; or white stone.
  • The variety of architectural styles, from Romanesque revival to Jugendstil Art Nouveau, by way of the Baroque

When its candidacy was rejected, a new dossier was prepared in 2009 by the office of the mayor of Metz. This new application dubbed the district "Metz Royal and Imperial," thereby putting the emphasis on the double urban identity of the city, playing on the opposition and complementary nature between the "royal" old city around the cathedral developed under the French monarchy of the ancien regime before 1789, and the Imperial Quarter developed under the Wilhelmine Empire. It thus showed the transformation of urban space from an older, clustered, topographically-oriented and organically-developed medieval city to the newer, rationally-planned, transportation-oriented and distinctly zoned sectors of the enlarged urban area. One month and a half after its submission to the French Committee for Worldwide Patrimony, the body approved its inscription to the list of French World Heritage Sites of UNESCO, later ratified by the Ministry of Culture and Communication. In April 2014, the internet site for UNESCO added the candidacy of Metz to its page for France.


4.1. Landmarks and Important Buildings The Ring

Constructed in the wake of the demolition of the old city walls in 1902, the urban Ring of Metz begins at the Boulevard Paixhans/Boulevard du Pontiffroy, to the north of the historic city center, and enters the Imperial Quarter via the Avenue Jean XXIII and the Place Mazelle. Its southern side is dominated by the rail yards approaching the main railway station. Nearby here are situated:

  • The Grand Catholic Seminary of Metz, dominated by its Chapel of St-Charles-Borromeo 1907
  • The railway station water tower 1908

The avenue Foch, notable for its green space and central walking path, features several private mansions at its west entrance:

  • Villa Wildenberger no. 16, Art Nouveau decoration, designed by Karl Griebel, 1903
  • Villa Lentz no. 24, Neoclassical, designed by Jules-Geoffroy Berninger et Gustave Kraft, 1904
  • Villa Linden no. 20, Renaissance-revival, designed by Scheden, 1905
  • Villa Wahn no. 18, Renaissance-revival, designed by Conrad Wahn, 1903
  • Villa Burger, also known as Villa Salomon no. 22 rural vernacular with wood paneling, designed by Eduard-Hermann Heppe, 1904
  • Villa Bleyler no. 14, Baroque-revival, punctuated by Art Nouveau, designed by Ludwig Becker, 1904–1906

The avenue also includes some other impressive buildings:

  • The General Treasury of Moselle, formerly the Bank of Luxembourg, Neoclassical
  • The Hotel des Mines, also called the Hotel Terminus, Renaissance-revival, 1906
  • The Hotel Royal, Rhenish-Renaissance-revival, 1905

The Place Raymond-Mondon, built when the Imperial Quarter was laid out in 1902, was formerly the Place Imperiale. In its center was an equestrian statue of Friedrich III of Germany, which the citizens of Metz toppled and destroyed in 1918. Around it, one will find:

  • The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Moselle, no. 10-12 Avenue Foch, also constructed in pink sandstone as the Imperial Bank, a symbol of financial power, designed by Robert Curjel and Karl Moser, 1907
  • The Tour Camoufle, in its eponymous square on the Avenue Foch, one of the last vestiges of the medieval walls of the city
  • The Hotel Foch, Baroque Revival, 1907
  • The Hotel des Arts et Metiers, no. 1-3 Avenue Foch, Flemish Renaissance-revival structure also of pink sandstone, built as the Chamber of Commerce, a symbol of German corporatist power, designed by Gustave Oberthur and Ernst Priedat, 1909

The Avenue Joffre shows much more sobriety with one side including German buildings that are relatively austere, facing a set of French Haussmannian structures on the other side, leading up to the spot where Wilhelm II wanted to erect his church. The part of the avenue adjacent to the demolished walls - those dating from the Renaissance to the north and those built by Marshal Sebastien Vauban during the reign of Louis XIV to the south - is today an access ramp for the autoroute A31. Formerly a tree-lined avenue, this highway is marked at the north by the presence of the Square Gallieni and the gardens of the Governors Palace. There, overlooking the Place Raymond-Mondon, are:

  • The Rhenish Bank, with minimalist/geometric decoration inspired by the Vienna Secession, 1907
  • An heavy Neoclassical apartment block "Revanchist Haussmanianism", 1925

And along the highway:

  • The military barracks Barbot and de Lattre de Tassigny, located on the site of Vaubans bastion of the 17th century, built 1890–93
  • The Serpenoise Gate, a triumphal arch whose current form dates from 1903; it was reconstructed from an earlier version in 1852 and enlarged in 1892
  • The Monument to the Fallen by Paul Niclausse, Art Deco, from 1935

4.2. Landmarks and Important Buildings Monuments and Sites of Interest

  • The Beer Hall, 1906, at no. 1 avenue Leclerc-de-Hautecloque, built in a regionalist German style, and no. 3, a Gothic-revival building dedicated to wine
  • Metz-Ville railway station Gare de Metz, the water tower, and the passage to the Amphitheater, designed by Jurgen Kroger, 1905–08
  • The Hopital Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, 1914, before 1919 named the Hopital Sainte-Marie
  • Old Metz railway station, 1878, on the place du Roi-George formerly the place de la Gare; it replaced the initial train station, built in 1852 and destroyed by fire in 1872)
  • Villas along the boulevard Clemenceau
  • The Kaiser Wilhelm House, on the rue Mozart, Baroque-revival, 1903
  • Arcades of the rue Gambetta along the Hotel des Arts & Metiers and the Crystal Palace whose façade is hidden, however
  • Main post office, designed by Kroger and Ludwig Bettcher, 1905–11
  • The former ceramics shop and studio of Villeroy & Boch, Art Nouveau
  • Art Deco building at the corner of the rues Henry-Maret and Pasteur
  • The Salle Braun and the Foyer Mozart, formerly the Protestant publishing house, 1907


4.3. Landmarks and Important Buildings Educational facilities

The expansion of Metz during the period of German rule also prompted the construction of various other educational institutions across the city. The Germanization of the architecture of schools is evident in the old Ecole de la Place de la Greve de Metz Sandplatzschule, today the Ecole de Saint-Eucaire; the Ecole communale des filles de la rue de Chevre Madchenschule in der Ziegenstrasse; at the Ecole de la rue Paixhans Volksschule in der Paixhansstrasse; and even in the Ecole normale dInstituteurs Lehrerseminar, a teachers college. Two such institutions specifically within the Imperial Quarter were built during this period:

  • The Ecole pratique superieure de Metz Oberrealschule, today the lycee Louis-Vincent, built 1913–16 with an expansion in 1933
  • The Ecole superieure de jeunes filles Hohere Madchenschule, on the Place de Maudhuy, now the lycee high school Georges-de-la-Tour, built 1906–10 and enlarged in 1930

More recently, the campus complex Georges-de-la-Tour - comprising both a college middle school, and the lycee high school, has enlarged the site at the Place de Maudhuy, formerly that of the Barbot military barracks.


4.4. Landmarks and Important Buildings Religious Buildings

  • Chapel of St. Charles Borromeo, at the Main Seminary, 1907–08
  • Church of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus, 1954

4.5. Landmarks and Important Buildings Plazas, Gardens, and Green Spaces

  • Jardin des Cinq Sens in the Main Seminary
  • Allee verte de lAvenue Foch
  • Place du Roi-George
  • Place Raymond-Mondon
  • Place du General-Mangin
  • Place Saint-Thiebault
  • Square Camoufle
  • Place de Maudhuy
  • Square Giraud and the gardens of the Governors Palace
  • Place du General-de-Gaulle
  • Square Jean-Pierre-Jean
  • Square Gallieni
  • the Lycee imperial in Metz From 1904 to 1910 he studied law, economics, political philosophy, theology and statistics at the Universities of Berlin, Munich
  • Italy, and was rechristened a ferronniere at the time of its revival in the second quarter of the nineteenth century for both day and more frequently
  • records the following: When a campaign profectio of the king is announced to the bishop of Metz in this case the bishop will send an official to
  • used in the United Kingdom imperial units and the United States United States customary units Before the introduction of the metric system in German
  • might of Lorraine, then took legal action, taking his case to the Imperial Chamber Court. However, he was unsuccessful because, in the treaties of 1297 1302
  • Quentin, Soissons, Reims, Beauvais, Amiens, Tongeren, Triers, Toul and Metz These civitates were in turn were divided into smaller units, pagi, a term
  • estimated that he spent a quarter of his reign on the road. In order to finance the Imperial wars and maintain his armies of German Landsknechte, Spanish
  • happy when that Greek woman died. The Benedictine chronicler Alpert of Metz describes Theophanu as being an unpleasant and chattery woman. Theophanu
  • Imperial Free City and is the seat of Heilbronn District. Heilbronn is also the economic center of the Heilbronn - Franken region that includes most of
  • Jewish quarter on 26 March. It was dispersed by the imperial marshal Henry of Kalden. The rabbi then met with the emperor, which resulted in an imperial edict

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