A « huguenot » town

The Protestant church Temple-Neuf in Metz © M. Pira

The Protestant church Temple-Neuf in Metz © M. Pira

At the end of the 16th century, half the town's population was Protestant. Only a few traces remain from that period, the different churches having all been destroyed after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. At that time, many emigrated towards Berlin. For the next century, Protestants were forced to live in secret. In 1803, they were granted a place of worship; but it was only when Moselle was annexed to Germany in 1871 that a Protestant community started to grow again and build churches and charity organisations; most of which still function today.


On the corner of Belle-Isle and Piscine streets, you'll notice the Garnison church's neo-Gothic steeple, a metre higher than the Cathedral’s. Built between 1875 and 1881, the former church, which could seat 2400 people was initially built for the many German Protestant soldiers. Disused since 1918, then damaged in 1944 by bombing, its roof burnt down in 1946 and its nave was destroyed. Only its steeple was kept and safeguarded.


Just next to the Garnison church steeple, you'll see the Belle-Isle hospital, founded by the Protestants and initially run by deaconesses, first from Stuttgart, then from Bielefeld. One can easily spot the initial neo-Gothic building of 1889, called « Mathildenstift » (after a donor); built by the German empire to satisfy the annexation immigrants' spiritual and sanitary needs.


At the Place de la Comédie you'll see the « Temple Neuf », opened in 1904 in presence of William II and the empress. Unlike many buildings in Metz, the church isn't made of yellow limestone, but of grey sandstone. William II asked Wahn, the architect, for contrasts: many parts of the church's architecture are inspired by the Rhein region Romanesque buildings, that go back to the 11th and 12th centuries. The side towers are topped with a rhombohedral stepped hip roof. The « dwarf » ornamental galleries have small pink sandstone columns above the main porch, pediment and steeple. Small arches adorn the walls under the roofs. An attentive visitor will also notice at the base of the gate's arches, symbols of the evangelists which frame the golden mystical lamb, monstrous animals on the sides, gargoyles in the shape of birds or fishes.


In the Outre-Seille neighbourhood (in the old town), 41 rue Mazelle, you'll find the Lutheran church built in 1893, in a neo-classical style. This was the second Protestant place of worship built in Metz during the German annexation, after the Garnison church. Located between two other buildings, the church gets its light from the roof windows and the stained-glass window in the chancel. Inside, small iron columns uphold wooden galleries.


19 rue de la Fontaine, the Heu town house was built in 1480 for Nicolle de Heu, and for a long time was considered the most beautiful residence in the town. This family of patricians were leaders of the Protestant community during the 16th century. Guillaume Farel, Calvin's friend, preached the Reformation ideas in Metz from 1542 to 1543 and for a while stayed in this house. Notice on the left-hand side of the arched porch, its spiral staircase lit by slanting picture windows topped with typically Gothic trilobal ribs.


This building was initially meant to host the activities of the « Mission Intérieure » ('national mission') developed during the annexation. However, during and after the two wars, it was used as a military hospital, a dormitory, offices, and so on. Today, it is used by the Foyer Mozart and the Mission Intérieure in Metz, called EPRA (a Protestant meeting place) for different cultural activities. The Braun hall is one of Metz's main venues, used as a theatre for children as well as a cafe with live theatre.
The building, with a German neo-renaissance style, was opened in 1908. The main gate is topped with a radiating cross. You may also notice portraits of Luther and Gustave II Adolph, King of Sweden (1594-1632), the Protestants' main ally during the Thirty years' war.


In rue Général de Gaulle, this church was built in 1908 and adapted to the Protestant liturgy. The three main elements of a service are set facing the community: the Word, the hymns and the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.


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