On the way to Colmar and Strasbourg by train, we had to stop in Breisach, Germany to take the bus into France. Why do you ask, "how come you didn't take the train all the way into France instead of having to take the train then the bus to France?" History is responsible for the reason why one has to travel from Freiburg, Germany to France this way, and it will be explained later on in this journal entry.
Breisach is a small town of about 16,500 people in the Baden-Wurtemburg region of Germany. In the old days it was known as Altbreisach, but now it is formally known as Breisach-an-der-Rhine since it is located on the Rhine River. Breisach dates from Celtic times when it was run by Celtic princes and the name Breisach is Celtic for "breakwater." This little city on the Rhine has been through centuries of war, occupation and changes in owner ship starting from Celtic times. The Romans occupied Breisach and called it Brisacus.
During the 13th Century, the Munster of Breisach, St. Stephenmunster was constructed in the Romanesque style of architecture and remains the main attraction of Breisach today. During the 16th Century, Breisach was a stronghold of the Holy Roman Empire and remained the city's main owner for the next three centuries. That was when Breisach wasn't under French attack. The first French attack on Breisach occured in 1638 and after 10 years of war and French occupation, Breisach was given to France in 1648 and was under French control for the next 49 years. In 1697, Breisach was returned to the Holy Roman Empire as terms with the Treaty of Riswick (Riswjk). The War of Spanish Succession began shortly after this and once again in 1703, the French occupied Breisach for another 11 years. Then the Treaty of Rastatt returned Breisach to Holy Roman Empire control until the Austrians annexed the city in 1790. During the French Revolution and wars between France and German states, Breisach suffered damage from the battles that occured there. Breisach was finally returned to German hands for good in 1805 when it was annexed to the state of Baden.
Now to answer your question about how history affected how one can travel from Freiburg, Germany to Alsace, France. In March 1945, the Allies began their final push into Germany by crossing the Rhine River at the French border. Breisach suffered about 85% destruction during this time and that included the rail lines. The French side of the Rhine River and its rails suffered serious damage and never was able to rebuild its rail lines into Germany. So that is why I had to travel from Freiburg to Breisach and then take a crowded sweaty bus into France and Colmar from there.
But I made the best of my little layover in Breisach by walking the streets and checking out the little shops and taking pictures of St. Stephenmunster. There was a little fair going on in Breisach that day for the local wineries but I was too early to sample any wines, but I did discover a knitting store on Breisach's main street and went inside to browse around. I found a beautiful turquoise cotton yarn that changed into several shades of light and dark turquoise and grabbed four skeins of it. The shop's owner showed me some ideas for knitting with this yarn, but to this day I haven't been able to figure out what to do with this yarn. While it was outside on the back porch in a container, my puppies Remy, Dustin and Dewey thought it would make a great toy to play with and one skein is scattered through the back yard. Oh well. Some day I will make something with my Breisach German yarn!
Except for the St. Stephensmunster and some fairs, there is not a lot to see in Breisach, but it is worth a short trip whenever you are heading into France via Freiburg.