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Église Heckenransbach is located in Heckenransbach, a small village in the Département Moselle in France.
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The church in Heckenransbach is a fortified church, which is very unusual in this part of France (a large number of fortified churches can be found in the Thièrache region; a project of mine for the future). It is normally locked, but a notice on the church says where to get a key. On the tour with members of the English Round Tower Churches Society in 2008, we also visited this church, and had the opportunity to have a look inside the tower. However, we were not allowed to go up, as the key keeper clearly told us several times: “Nur lure, net hochgehe!!!” (“Only look, don’t walk up!!!” in the local dialect).
There is also a plaque on the church about its history; as I find the text very lovingly written (a fact that is probably lost in the translation), I include it here instead of an own text: A little off the road leading to Saargemünd, the village of Heckenransbach, situated on a hillside, deserves a little stay. Its very name is poetic, meaning “raven brook in the midst of hedges”.
This peaceful and coquettish village is known for its church, a very beautiful church that seems to defy the centuries unbroken. If the visitor takes the necessary time, he may be astonished to note an inscription above the portal that on the square hall built on the round tower the whole parish could find refuge in times of war, pull up the ladder and hide from the besiegers. The church has a round tower of imposing dimensions, similar to the one in Zetting, but with a square top, which gives it a special character. This tower was obviously built for the defensive purposes of the village at that time, as it provided the inhabitants with a protective shelter when devastating hordes of rulers invaded the land. The construction of the round tower dates back to the 13th century, while the hall with its consoles and pitch noses was added in the 14th century.
Another peculiar feature is the nave, which is in pure Baroque style and was built in the 18th century, while the choir dates from the 13th century and stands out for its Gothic windows and arcades.
The attentive visitor will also notice a baptismal font from 1719 and a statue of St Anne to the left of the nave. However, the most artistically valuable part is a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, which may have been carved towards the end of the 13th century. It is one of the oldest statues in the Metz parish.
This 700-year-old sanctuary is well worth a stop in Heckenransbach. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary at the time of its construction, and the parish of Heckenransbach was first mentioned in documents in 1141 and 1196. Visitors will probably have a hard time passing by this amazing church that towers over the small village. The door is locked, but one can always “auspumpen” (German slang for “borrow”) the church keys from the adjacent neighbour for the time of a visit. A visit you will not regret.