Büchmesser (Belly Measuring Column) - Atlas Obscura

Directly across Strasbourg Cathedral, on the corner of rue Mercière and place de la Cathédrale, see if you can pass the “belly test.” The Büchmesser, or mesureur de bedaine in French, was built in 1567. The pink sandstone column was used by City Council bigwigs to test their bellies after a night of feasting for Schwörtag, a day when they renewed their oaths to the constitution. This vow involved lots of wining and dining apparently.

Schwörtag is still celebrated in the southern German city of Reutlingen, not too far from Strasbourg, but nowadays includes the regular people. The tradition is said to stretch all the way back to the 14th century, before this current Büchmesser was constructed.

Büchmesser is high German for Bauchmesser (belly measurer). In case you were wondering why the column is named in German and not French, Strasbourg changed hands between the two countries at multiple points throughout history due to wars and their subsequent treaties. While Strasbourg today is certainly French, traces of German culture or the language can be found in places like the Büchmesser.

If you can slip through the 35-centimeter space, you’re good to go! No diet needed. It’s unclear who set the bar for 16th-century body standards at 35 centimeters, and seeing how Strasbourg is the home of many belt-tightening (or loosening, depending on how you look at it) delicacies, we might be in trouble. The column was declared a historical monument in 1936 and restored in 2016. 

Know Before You Go

The column is accessible 24/7.

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October 13, 2023

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