Written by MALUSE on 09 Aug, 2011
Würzburg is situated in Franconia, the northern part of the Land Bavaria, on the river Main (which later passes Frankfurt). Two years ago I visited the town for the first time, and because I liked it I visited it again last week.I went by train.…Read More
Würzburg is situated in Franconia, the northern part of the Land Bavaria, on the river Main (which later passes Frankfurt). Two years ago I visited the town for the first time, and because I liked it I visited it again last week.I went by train. The train station is small which means in Germany that the Tourist Information isn’t in it but somewhere in the centre. One can follow the tram tracks starting in front of the station for about a quarter of an hour up to the Market Square. The Tourist Information is in the Falkenhaus, a pretty Baroque building with Rococo stucco work.I had a whole afternoon for a sightseeing tour and asked for advice what to see and how to get there. I got a leaflet with a map (also available in English) with a dotted red line drawn through the historic centre connecting all sights of interest for short time tourists, just what I needed.The Market Square is nice to look at, especially when the sun is shining. If you’re lucky, you can find stalls there selling, fruit, vegetables and flowers. Several cafés have tables outside. To the left of the Falkenhaus is the Marienkapelle, a late Gothic chapel begun in 1377 and completed in 1480. Imagine a building begun this year and finished only in 2114! People are so impatient nowadays. The interior doesn’t impress me much, I only find the statues of Adam and Eve in the portal arches remarkable, they’re by the famous sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider*. The ones at the Marienkapelle are copies, the originals are in the Mainfränkisches Museum. What is interesting is that the whole Market Squares exudes age although more buildings are post-war constructions than old ones. More of that later. Crossing the Market Square diagonally to the left I get to a street running parallel to the river Main and to the Old Bridge replacing a destroyed bridge from Roman times and later a ferry. It’s 180 m long, on either side stand several big statues of saints making the bridge look like a smaller sibling of the Charles Bridge in Prague. Every tourist with a camera *must* take a photo there, the figure of a saint and the stone railing of the bridge in the foreground, the river Main in the middle, maybe with a white passenger boat or a barge, and the Festung (fortress) Marienberg in the background sitting majestically on a wide hill covered from top to bottom with vineyards. The Franconian wine is not to everyone’s taste, I find it a bit too acid, ‘it pulls the holes in one’s socks together’ as the Germans say. Yet other people like it, for them are the wine bars in the centre. I turn back and walk straight up to the Cathedral St. Kilian, not more than five minutes away. I pass the town hall also built in the Middle Ages with an impressive tower (pic at the top of the site). I enter and walk up all floors looking as if I had business there. Nobody is minding me.The Cathedral is one of the largest Romanesque churches in Germany, begun in 1040. As is the case in many German churches also Gothic and Baroque elements can be found, not surprising considering how long it took to finish a building. Inside one has to admire an impressive row of bishops’ tombstones, some of which were made by the afore-mentioned Tilman Riemenschneider. To the left of the Cathedral is the Neumünster, a Romanesque basilica built on the burial site of St. Kilian. This Kilian and his mates Kolonat and Totnan were Irish missionaries who came to Würzburg in the 7th century where they were rather successful. 46 churches in and around Würzburg carry the name of Kilian. Catholic Würzburgers still celebrate the missionaries with an annual week of pilgrimage. The three men were killed in 689. I’m sorry for them, nobody should be killed, but I have to admit that I’m not in favour of missionaries in general.More to my liking is Walter von der Vogelweide, the most famous minstrel singer of the German tongue in the Middle Ages. It’s assumed that he lived from 1170 to 1230 and was buried in Würzburg. True or not, there is a tombstone for him in a small garden behind the Neumünster, an ugly, dirty concrete building block of about 1mx1mx1,5m, a real shame. How touching to see bunches of flowers lying on it, a heart of rose petals and a pebble stone with the word Danke (Thank you) written on it. After about eight centuries! .From there it’s about ten minutes straight on to the Residence of Würzburg, since 1981 part of the Cultural World Heritage of UNESCO. It’s one of Europe’s most outstanding Baroque palaces, built from 1719 to 1744. The inner rooms and decorations were completed in 1781. This is record time considering that the front is 167 m long and the two wings 97m long! From the 300 rooms 40 can be visited on a guided tour. The most famous feature of the Residence is the enormous entrance hall with an impressive staircase and a cantilever cupola with the largest fresco worldwide (670 m²) showing the continents and their flora, fauna and inhabitants painted by the Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and his sons.Another highlight is the Mirror Cabinet, reopened in 1987 after nine years of reconstruction. Let me stop here for a while and tell you why Würzburg touches me in a special way. With few exceptions all German towns suffered during WW2, however, what happened to Würzburg is on a special scale. Together with Dresden and Pforzheim it belongs to the three German towns which were nearly completely destroyed. The war ended on 8th May, 1945; Dresden was bombed on 13th February, Pforzheim on 23rd February and Würzburg on 16th March 1945. 500 aeroplanes from the Royal Air Force assembled at Reading and flew to Würzburg, after the raid lasting for 25 minutes about 90% of Würzburg were in ruins, only six houses remained intact, about 5000 people died. Governor Wagoner, head of the American military administration in Bavaria, suggested that Würzburg should remain as it was, it should serve as a ‘museum of wartime devastation‘. He suggested Würzburg be rebuilt anew on a different site. This did not happen, the surviving Würzburgers cleared away the rubble and started to rebuild their hometown. Of course, not all buildings were rebuilt in the original style, this is why we see so many ugly box-like constructions everywhere, but a surprising number looks just as it did before the war. On the whole Würzburg gives the impression of an old town.But what do we see now? The uninformed tourist sees Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Rococo buildings and artefacts - but they aren’t older than half a century or, as it is the case with the Mirror Cabinet only 24 years old. Are they the real thing? Or are they fake? What about the aura genuine pieces of art have? I don’t know the answer. But the aura seems to be a fickle thing, sometimes it attaches itself to fake things as well. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t happen that renowned art experts lose their reputation because they guarantee that a piece of art is genuine when in fact it isn’t.From the Residence I take Bus No 14 to the Fortress Marienberg which houses the Mainfränkisches Museum. It is a small museum with collections of prehistoric finds, Franconian viticulture, porcelain and silverware, baroque sculptures, arms et al. I walk through the rooms barely glancing at the exhibits - not that they aren’t worth looking at, but I haven’t got much time and want to use it to take in the works of Tilman Riemenschneider who didn’t only make stone sculptures but also worked with wood. Most statues are small and look rather funny, the way many Gothic figures look, the heads too big, the bodies too small and not anatomically correct. But there is also the life size, perfect figure of the Mourning Maria carved from lime tree wood in 1505 which is so wonderful that I started my second visit to Würzburg with her and then did the town afterwards. Faint traces of colour remain which is rare, most wooden sculptures don’t show any paint any more. She doesn’t hold Baby Jesus in her arms, she just stands there with such a sad face that her pain is palpable. She can be seen for any woman anywhere in the world mourning a loved one.Full of new impressions and many thoughts I return to the train station and go home. If you ever find yourself in the vicinity, go and visit Würzburg, it’s worth it.----*Other famous Würzburgers:Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, who discovered X-rays Werner Heisenberg, theoretical physicist, best known for asserting the uncertainty principle of quantum theory Dirk Nowitzki, NBA Champion, currently playing for the Dallas Mavericks Close
Written by MALUSE on 01 Oct, 2010
For many foreign visitors, especially the ones from overseas who do Europe in five days, Germany shrinks to Bavaria, Bavaria shrinks to Munich. Munich means Oktoberfest, Mad King Ludwig and Hitler. If they do come in October and take the visitors of the Oktoberfest for…Read More
For many foreign visitors, especially the ones from overseas who do Europe in five days, Germany shrinks to Bavaria, Bavaria shrinks to Munich. Munich means Oktoberfest, Mad King Ludwig and Hitler. If they do come in October and take the visitors of the Oktoberfest for typical Germans, they may return home believing that Germans wear lederhosen and German women dirndl. What an insult to the rest of the population.Dirndl is the diminutive Bavarian dialect form of ‘girl’. The thing you put on should be called a ‘dirndl dress’, but over time the second word has got lost and today a dirndl can wear a dirndl. What nowadays seems the typical dress for women in Bavaria, Austria, Liechtenstein and Italian South Tyrol wase the traditional, everyday dress of servants in the 19th century. If they had to go to town, they didn’t wear it, it looked too cheap to them. In the 1870s the Austrian upper classes adopted the dirndl as high fashion when they were holidaying in the countryside copying the peasant’s way of dressing.Dirndl and Oktoberfest only met in the 1960s when Munich applied for the Olympic Games in 1972. The young women working in the PR business and the hostesses wear clad in dirndl (‘dirndl’ is also the plural form) to represent a Bavarian custom which hadn’t existed before. The German Silvia Sommerlath looked so attractive in her dirndl that she conquered the Swedish Crown Prince and is now Queen of Sweden. Many young women thought that if wearing a dirndl could have such a consequence, they’d also wear one.The media are responsible for the combination of folkloristic costumes, dirndl, lederhosen and Oktoberfest, suddenly everyone thought it had always been like that, people had always visited the Oktoberfest dressed up. According to a survey half of the visitors of the Oktoberfest have put on dirndl and lederhosen since 2004. Some visitors even think that you’re only allowed to enter if you wear a costume. The ultimate victory of advertising!And the dirndl wearers are not all Bavarians! What I find utterly shocking is that the dirndl is spreading like pestilence through Germany. When the Oktoberfest began this year, I saw dirndl and lederhosen on offer in the Kaufhof (a chain store to be found all over Germany) in the Swabian town near Stuttgart where I live. All Kaufhof stores from the Alps to the Baltic sea offer these fashion items now. The mind boggles! What has happened to my countrypeople? Soon foreign tourists claiming Germans wear dirndl and lederhosen won’t insult the non-Bavarian population any more. To make you understand the absurdity imagine the kilt leaving the confines of the Scottish highlands and moving south. Men from the Isle of Wight would be seen in kilts during Cowes Week watching the regatta.A psychologist may find an explanation, I can’t, but I know that I hate everything folkloristic, rustic and Bavarian with all my heart, have always done so and will always do. I’d rather been seen dead hanging over a fence than be seen in a dirndl. When I’m in the coffin, I can be shrouded in a dirndl, it won’t bother me then.Imagine putting on a blouse with a deep cleavage, then pressing your chest into a bodice laced so tight that your boobs are under your chin and nearly fall out (Surely, after some beer and swaying from side to side or when dancing on the tables in the beer tents boobs do fall out occasionally). I must concede that there is a positive aspect: the hunger hooks we see on catwalks have no chance in dirndl land. The more wood you’ve got in front of your house (as the Germans say), the better. It's not a question of looking fat but of emphasising the shape of the female body. The wide, pleated skirt can have any length the wearer likes from not reaching the knee up to ankle length. Over the skirt an apron is worn. It’s always as long as the skirt, i.e., long skirt = long apron. A handmade individual dirndl made in Germany or Austria of expensive material like linen, silk and velvet can cost more than 2000 Euro, a polyester dirndl made in Turkey or Bangladesh can be got for less than 50 Euro.A folklorist has researched the phenomenon and has come to the conclusion that dirndl and lederhosen are symbols for an identification process. Place and time may disintegrate, speed increase, but dirndl and lederhosen root the wearers in a community and a precise location, they have a home. Well, well. Close
Written by MilwVon on 27 Sep, 2006
Taking the train out of Oberstaufen, Lindau was an easy ride of less than an hour. I didn’t realize until getting there that the German town of Lindau is actually an island IN Lake Constance. The port entrance with its Lion Statue and…Read More
Taking the train out of Oberstaufen, Lindau was an easy ride of less than an hour. I didn’t realize until getting there that the German town of Lindau is actually an island IN Lake Constance. The port entrance with its Lion Statue and tall white lighthouse is striking. On this day, it was a bit overcast and gloomy so the photos don’t really do the view justice. The town is rather compact and easy to walk. There are markets, residential areas and beautiful churches. Whatever your interests, I’m certain you will find something to explore here.Perhaps one of the most unusual buildings in Lindau was the town hall. Like so many other towns we visited, the painted murals on the buildings were just beautiful. I don’t know how they are able to be maintained in what appears to be such pristine condition. There is a lot to wander and see throughout Lindau. During our day trip here, we also ventured into a casino, even won, mmmmm I’m not even sure how much money it was in terms of USD. I’m thinking maybe $100?? It was a slot type machine that looked different that anything I had every seen. I can’t even describe it and because photos weren’t permitted inside, I can’t share a picture here.There is a very nice walking tour of the city that you can do, that includes a large park area along the bridge over to the main shore in Germany. That was where we saw what was probably the funniest sight ever experienced. Almost like a scene out of the Keystone Cops, a fire truck came barreling through the streets, sirens blaring and as it made its way through the city curves, you could actually see the chassis of the truck lift up as though to nearly go up on the just two wheels on that side of the vehicle. Inside, you could see the men hanging on for what I am certain was dear life! Close
While touring with Stefan’s, we stopped in the quaint nameless village. I’m sure that the small community “had” a name, I just couldn’t hear it well enough to try to accurately spell it here. It’s unfortunately, as an American tourist to be so poor…Read More
While touring with Stefan’s, we stopped in the quaint nameless village. I’m sure that the small community “had” a name, I just couldn’t hear it well enough to try to accurately spell it here. It’s unfortunately, as an American tourist to be so poor with other languages. In any event, this small village was just how I envisioned Switzerland to look. Painted houses and storefronts, hanging window flower boxes and yummy CHOCOLATE! I actually believe that this stop on our three country journey was all about the shopping and tourist sights. My sister and I stopped in what we thought had to be the smallest church in the world. With a dear friend dying of colon cancer, I made sure to light a candle and say a prayer for him. As we left, I thought of the other candles in the small church and wondered about the others for whom prayers were said. A gave a moment of silence for each of them before exiting.As we wandered down the streets, I was amazed at how there were few cars on the road and that people literally just walk down the middle of the street. As you can see from one of the photos included in this journal entry, the roads are not that wide and have some rather sharp curves. It didn’t seem very safe, but when in Rome, do as the Romans so we too walked down the middle of the streets.As for the shopping, I bought a rather large amount of Lindt Chocolates to take home to friends in Milwaukee. The price seemed high as I was doing the math conversion to US dollars but where else could you get Swiss chocolates with the labels all written in Swiss? I especially liked the aluminum milk can filled with individually wrapped pieces. They were the hit in my office when I returned stateside. The other Swiss chocolate that I indulged in was Toberlones. You would probably recognize it as the stuff that comes in the triangular shaped tube box. This confectionery delight is made from has a sweet honey almond nougat that truly melts in your mouth.A couple in our group bought some unique handcrafted wooden toys for their toddlers back home. We didn’t go inside the toy shops so I’m really unsure of just what all they had. What I did see reminded me a lot of Pinocchio. Seeing the simplicity of these toys, I thought how spoiled American kids are today! Close
Written by Linda Kaye on 03 Feb, 2001
There is one thing for sure- there is no shortage of beautiful churches in Bavaria. One reason for this is that the churches are heavily supported by taxes. One of the most beautiful and well known is Die Weiss Kirche (The White Church)…Read More
There is one thing for sure- there is no shortage of beautiful churches in Bavaria. One reason for this is that the churches are heavily supported by taxes. One of the most beautiful and well known is Die Weiss Kirche (The White Church) . On the day we visited, (not a Sunday) we were fortunate because not only did we get to tour the church, but enjoyed a marvelous concert of string instruments that was being presented inside the church. It was a joy to the ears.
St Martin’s Church in Marktoberdorf sits on a hill, overlooking the town. On many of our walks or bike trips, we would always "find our way home" by locating the church steeple. The interior of St. Martin’s is magnificent, although the pews are not at all comfortable. Obviously, the builders did not want anyone falling asleep.
There are big churches and there are little churches. The picture below shows a very tiny church we found while on a bike tour near Marktoberdorf. Do you know how to immediately tell if the church is Catholic or Protestant? The Catholic Church always has a cross on the steeple and the Protestant Church has a roster on the steeple.
Linderhof was built as a hunting lodge in the secluded Graswang Valley, and was known as the "King’s Hut". It was planned as a modest villa, but became a splendid Rococo Palace in ornate French Style. It is the smallest of the…Read More
Linderhof was built as a hunting lodge in the secluded Graswang Valley, and was known as the "King’s Hut". It was planned as a modest villa, but became a splendid Rococo Palace in ornate French Style. It is the smallest of the three castles of King Ludwig and the only one that was complete finished (1878). Linderhof was the favorite summer home of the King, who spared no amount of Germany’s money to build it. The 198-acre grounds of Linderhof are wonderful and were patterned after Versailles near Paris.
There are four unique features of Linderhof that I remember:
The first is the water fountain that goes off every 15 minutes and shoots water high into the air above the castle.
The second is a man-made underground grotto complete with a lake. King Ludwig would sit inside a Swan-shaped boat on the water while listening to live performance of his favorite Wagner operas.
The third is a Moorish Kiosk that was originally built for the World Exhibition in Paris in 1876 and features a magnificent peacock throne. It was disassembled and moved piece by piece to its present location.
And the fourth is referred to as "tischlein deck dich". It seems that when King Ludwig was a child he heard a fairytale about a King who had a magic table. All this King would have to do is wish for whatever he wanted to eat and it would magically appear on the table. King Ludwig had a table built that could be hoisted up from three floors below (the kitchen) with whatever he wanted on it. For instance, he might announce his wishes through a metal tube that went to the kitchen, "I want a roast goose" The kitchen staff who had to anticipated several of his favorite meals, would quickly arrange the goose on the table and using a pulley system, hoist it up to where he was sitting. The floor would open the table would "appear".
Neuschwanstein Castle is undoubtedly the most photographed and famous castle in Europe. Construction began in 1869 and was left unfinished at Louis’s death in 1886. The five-story castle was built on Swan Rock high above the beautiful Alpsee and close to the roaring waters of…Read More
Neuschwanstein Castle is undoubtedly the most photographed and famous castle in Europe. Construction began in 1869 and was left unfinished at Louis’s death in 1886. The five-story castle was built on Swan Rock high above the beautiful Alpsee and close to the roaring waters of the Pollat River Gorge in 19th Century Romanticism Architecture. It was a fantastical imitation of a medieval castle with towers and spires and spectacular views. The Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disney World was modeled after Neuschwanstein Castle.
There are two ways to arrive at the Castle; most use the traditional one, driving up to the castle on a nice paved road. However, since we had expert German guides, we took the back way- hiking a trail that paralleled the raging water of the Pollat River on the backside of the mountain. The hike was relatively easy and by far the most scenic route. After touring the castle we went to the back of the castle and took pictures from the Bridge high above the waterfalls. This view is one of the most spectacular. It was the hydropower of the falls that allowed the Castle to have running water and flushable toilets, conveniences unheard of at that time.
Written by LAFRAGIA on 22 Nov, 2008
In November 2008 we traveled to Germany. We had the chance to take a day excursion to Neuschwanstein Castle. Booked in the U.S. through Viator tours. Serviced in Munich by Radius Tours. I can say it was worth every penny spent..which we paid a great…Read More
In November 2008 we traveled to Germany. We had the chance to take a day excursion to Neuschwanstein Castle. Booked in the U.S. through Viator tours. Serviced in Munich by Radius Tours. I can say it was worth every penny spent..which we paid a great price. We paid less by booking it on Viator than if we would have booked it in the Radius Tours office in Munich. The group met at the main train terminal. We took a train to Fussen, then a 10minute bus ride to the parking lots of the castle. Afterwards I just have to warn you that being in somewhat shape is suggested or you need to TAKE THE HORSE AND CARRIAGE! It was about a LONG 20minute haul up hill to the castle. I consider myself in pretty good shape yet found myself breathing heavy a littleways from the top. Even though the weather was quite nice and cool. The entire tour group came out of their jackets and seemed everyone had sweat running from their cheeks and foreheads...lol....Once you get to the castle, the interior tour of the castle runs every 15mins and you have to scan your ticket within 5minutes of your tour being called or you would forfeit your tour. I felt the tour was long enough to look at each room and look at the view outside the window and keep on going. If you are a history buff or castle lover, then you may get irritated that there wasnt enough time spent in each room. If you want more time in the room, just lag behind and catch the next tour that enters. One tour enters as the other is leaving. They do not allow pictures to be taken in the castle, but as soon as the guide walked out a few would lag behind and snap their cameras away. Be warned that inside the castle there are steps you have to climb. ..alot of steps up...a few down. The castle has a cafe and two gift shops.You have the option once leaving the castle to take an additional 15 minute walk further up to Mary's Bridge. I do suggest taking the walk. There is a view of The Alps that is amazing. Once you get on the bridge the view of the castle and waterfall from there is a postcard perfect picture! Now they were refurbishing the castles exterior so the scaffolds and plastic do mess up the pictures. The guide said the scaffolds and plastics had been up since May 08. It does mess up the picture but not the site!I think if you are ready for an adventure, you could do the castle tour on your own. Three days a week from Munich the train has non-connecting routes. Any other day you will have to get off one train and get on another. You can buy your ticket into the castle where the bus drops you off at and then the walk up or the buggy. If I am not mistaken, the last train leaves Fussen at 8pm. It is a 2hr ride back to Munich. If you get the chance to go and enjoy! Close
Ulm is a city built in a rather significant flood area. Walled to protect the city, there are also many canals throughout the city. Some of the houses literally sit out over the water, making one speculate what keeps it from falling in.…Read More
Ulm is a city built in a rather significant flood area. Walled to protect the city, there are also many canals throughout the city. Some of the houses literally sit out over the water, making one speculate what keeps it from falling in. As you walk through the city you cannot help but to notice the tall steeple of Cathedral.The Cathedral in Ulm may be one of the most beautiful in the world! It is definitely the tallest at over 161.5m. While we were there (April 1996) it was under exterior renovation with a large amount of scaffolding surrounding a large portion of the spire. This Gothic cathedral dates back to the 14th century and literally broke parishioners. Construction was not completed until 1890!If you feel brave (and are in good shape) you can climb up the 768 steps to the top for what my sister told me was a fantastic view of the entire city. Due to my asthma, I had to take a pass :(As you walk through the church, you will note many beautiful sculptures and works of art. The carvings of angels and other holy figures were exquisite in their detail in the white marble. With this review are several photos including a couple of the carved marble figures. Please be sure to take a look! Close
In 1936 both the summer and winter games were hosted by Germany. Known as “Hitler’s Olympics” it was the cause for a lot of political controversy as you might imagine. The 1936 Summer Olympic Games were contested in Berlin.Known as Olympia Skistadion, this…Read More
In 1936 both the summer and winter games were hosted by Germany. Known as “Hitler’s Olympics” it was the cause for a lot of political controversy as you might imagine. The 1936 Summer Olympic Games were contested in Berlin.Known as Olympia Skistadion, this was the venue for the ski jump competition. It was also the site for the opening and closing ceremonies. As I entered the stadium, I felt what I would imagined it would be like to be an athlete representing my country in competitions of sport and games. The large stone stadium bleachers were not lavish by any stretch of the imagination. All I could think of as I sat there shivering in APRIL was how darn cold these things had to have been in the dead of winter!In the ’36 Winter Olympics, there were 646 athletes competing, 566 men and just 80 women. They represented 28 nations, including the USA. What a long way the Olympics have come in 70 years! Norwegian Sonja Henie took home her third consecutive gold medal in the women’s figure skating event. Looking up the mountain side, you can still see the ski jumps used in those 1936 Winter Olympic Games. Today’s Olympics seem to be so much more high tech with jump distances dwarfing those that won in Garmisch, and yet, I sat there in amazement wondering what it would have been like to compete here before thousands of fans from around the world.Garmisch is still a very small village with a reported 27,000 residents in 1994. The view of the alpine valleys and the Bavarian Alps that surround her, make this a wonderful destination for hiking, cross country skiing and parasailing. Close