The bear in the crypt
The small town of Andlau with its mighty church is located on the Route du Vin between Epfig and Odilienberg. Here, in the forested valley of the river of the same name, which is dominated by the ruins of the Castle of Spesburg and the Castle of the Lords of Andlau, we are in a legendary place. The huge abbey church of Saint Pierre-et-Paul dominates the center, which is popular with pilgrims and art lovers. Everyone who descends into the crypt will find a wonderful place of silence. The Romanesque building from the 11th century with its earthbound, raw columns and unadorned capitals provides a great calm. In the middle of the room you can see the stocky sculpture of a bear with her mouth open. At their feet is a round opening in the sandstone floor, which is said to have magical powers: pilgrims stand in it and put their hands in the bear’s snout to be healed of leg problems. According to legend, around 880 a bear mother scratched the ground and showed Empress Richardis the place where a monastery was to be founded.
The church itself, through several reconstructions over the centuries, has become a building whose style is inconsistent. The west facade, which was built between 1130 and 1140, is however incomparable with a unique figure frieze full of animals and mythical creatures, which gives an appealing insight into the life and imagination of the Middle Ages. The richly decorated portal, with scenes from Genesis, is one of the great treasures – from the creation of Eve to the expulsion from paradise.