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Posts Tagged ‘Bayreuth’

Architecture, arts and activities galore

Cycling along the Main river you will discover idyllic landscapes, impressive feudal towns and mouth-watering local restaurants and vineyards. In addition to the already planned highlights and activities, we’d like to point out a few more current events in some of the towns along the way.

Bayreuth

EremitageFor our early-bird guests, the weekend of the 18th and 19th of June has some interesting sights at hand: first and foremost the Landesgartenschau (state garden show) is in full swing with a huge range of activities covering everything from small balcony gardening to open-air ballet! Their comprehensive activity calender is unfortunately only in German, so if you have any particular interests, let us know and we’ll check and translate. Their topics are organized into 7 categories: exhibitions, garden & nature, religion & encounters, family, children & youth, culture & entertainment, sport & health and talks, info & education.

Two other interesting items focus on Wagner and the Bayreuth Festival: one is the Wagner Museum which offers a comprehensive look at Wagner, his life and work. The other is another permanent exhibition, Verstummte Stimmen (silenced voices) detailing the abuse of art and culture for political means in general and in particular the ostracism of Jewish artists during the Third Reich.

Bamberg

bamberg stadtstrandAnd what better way to relax after a day’s cycling than sitting by the beach enjoying good food and relaxing drinks? As part of the world cultural heritage of the city, you can sit on a beach by the Regnitz river and enjoy a summer’s evening with sand between your toes and a drink or two in your hands. Let your local guide, who showed you around the historic city centre, advise you on the best time to try the beach in the middle of Germany.

Würzburg

Arriving in the city on Monday, when most museums are shut, will give you a good excuse to sit back in one of the cafes or restaurants and hardwire the great experiences into your brain to take home and treasure for a long time after. Once you’ve had a good look around the Residence head back toward the Main across the Altstadt and have a taste of the local and imported food culture in one of the many street side cafes and restaurants. Once again, your local guide will be able to guide you to your choice of dining experience.

NachtwaechterOne thing you might enjoy afterwards is taking a guided tour at night with a local historic character, The Würzburg Night Guard, or one of his friends the Schorsch, Marktbärbel or the Häcker Karl. Dressed up in period costumes, they will let you in on the local gossip and family scandals of their times. Created in 1995 by Wolgang Mainka, a lawyer and art historian, him and his friends aim to bring history to the people in an entertaining, sometimes light-hearted way, encouraging and fostering interests in history and sociology.

We hope you enjoyed your tour and look forward to hearing your thoughts and maybe even see some photographs.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

 

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Folklore and politics

Leaving behind impressive Bayreuth at the foot of the Fichtelgebirge (Fichtel Mountains) we cycle north through the peaceful landscape of Oberfranken (Upper Franconia) toward Lichtenfels, our first stop on a tour that will take you from a beer making region to a wine growing and making region. All within a couple of 100 kilometres! This region is not only rich in brewing traditions, but also in legends and folklore. On this part of the tour you will come through three villages that have interesting stories associated with them, each telling about the strifes each village had to conquer in their times. These stories tell about the importance of succession, greed and plain misunderstandings.

Kulmbach

1280px-Plassenburg_in_Kulmbach_-_InnenhofThis city is not only known for being the place of confluence for the red and white Main, but also for one of Germany’s more impressive castles – Plassenburg castle – and Bratwurst! During your visit you will have an opportunity to discover both, while pondering one of the legends told about one of their ‘leading ladies’: The White Woman.

In the year 1340 after the death of her husband Otto, the countess of Orlamünde – a mother of two – decided she needed to remarry and had someone special in mind: Albert from the Hohenzollern house. Her husband-to-be supposedly had said, that four eyes were in the way of him marrying her. She interpreted it meaning her two children and killed them! He had meant his parents! When he found out, he was shocked, understandably, and left her. She, wracked with remorse, went on a pilgrimage and founded a monastery where she lived until her death. After her death she continued to appear to and warn Albert’s descendants of impending doom.

Burgkunstadt

Burgkunstadt,_Marktpaltz,_Westteil-003This city has a coloured past starting in the 8th and 10th century when it was designed to be a fortified rural castle village. The following centuries brought war and pestilence, but by the beginning of the 19th century the city and the region began to prosper again, as they adopted the concepts of industrialisation and changed from a rural town to a place of manufacturing of shoes. This was the main industry until the end of the 20th century. The closure of the shoe factories meant having to find new means of supporting the region and they focused on becoming a centre of higher education for the region. You will be able to enjoy the change of lifestyle brought here by the students during your break in the town.

This town’s legend involves a count, his wife, their newborn son and a golden cradle! The short of it: an angry mob of farmers attack the castle to rob the cradle. After suffering heavy losses the count gets captured but refuses to say where the cradle is despite being threatened to be killed in boiling hot oil. The search after his death reveals nothing: neither mother nor child nor cradle to be found. Supposedly they had been hiding in a tunnel, which collapsed during the fighting and buried the lot!

Lichtenfels

WickerYour final destination will show you a working example of middle class enterprises supporting each other; meaning it has an above average employment rate. Mainly traditional crafts for household items, but also modern businesses in laser technology and tool fabrication create a healthy economic environment.Koerbe “World” famous for its woven baskets, the markets offering those goods for sale are particularly charming. And its fame is such, that they have created a festival and web page celebrating the wonderful art of wicker weaving. Unfortunately the page itself is only in German, you might want to ask your guide to translate for you.

Querkele

Most regions with a strong craft economy also have legends about their unearthly little helpers. So does Lichtenfels, or rather near-by Bad Staffelstein. Querkele were little friendly and helpful people/dwarves that LOVED to eat the local potato dumplings. Everyone knew about their love, which made them steal the dumplings out of the cooking pot and tolerated it because they were such useful friends. Then one day, a greedy miserly farmer’s wife decided she had had enough and put a stop to it, by counting out loud how many dumplings she put in the pot. Thereby implying she wasn’t going to put up with any going missing. The Querkele noted that and moved on. Sadly they not only left her to her own devices, but they left the whole region never to be seen again. If you hear anyone complaining they wished they hadn’t left, you’ll know why.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

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Wagner and more

Sommernachtsfest The city of Bayreuth is a conglomeration of villages that attained city status in the early 13th century. The following centuries proved to be hard times, as the city was struck by disasters repeatedly, be it fires destroying parts of the town or the plague decimating the populace. This all turned for better at the beginning of the 17th century when Margrave Christian moved to Bayreuth in 1603. He initiated a building boom which continued until the end of the 18th century, when due to lack of successors and money, the last margrave abdicated and the territories became part of the Prussian empire on 2.12.1791. During its heyday under the rule of Margrave Frederick and Margravine Wilhelmina of Bayreuth (1735 – 1763) richly furnished private and public buildings were constructed in the baroque style.

800px-Markgräfliches_Opernhaus_-_Bayreuth_-_2013After its French occupation from 1806 – 1810 (result of a loss during the Napoleonic Wars), the principality was returned and became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria. As Bavaria was being opened up by connecting more and more towns to the railways, Bayreuth was on the main line between Nuremberg to Hof. More connections meant an increase in visitors and exposure. In due course Wagner heard about the Margrave Opera House – a UNESCO World Heritage List building – and came to inspect its suitability for his operas. He was disappointed and decided to build his own. The town supported him and he went on to create a world renowned festival. He would have been very pleased with himself if he knew that nowadays one has to get in line about 10 years in advance to secure a ticket to the highly coveted festival!

Modern Bayreuth

Even though Bayreuth is infamous for the Wagner festival, it has lots of other attractions for a visitor. Architecture for starters: despite having lost a third of its buildings in WWII the rest is kept in pristine shape to be admired during your guided tour. Baroque architecture was a manifestation of political absolutism and colonialism, putting the monarchs/popes/regents at the centre of attention. It created magnificent structures to glorify the rulers and demonstrate new found wealth and power.

roter mainThe success of the Wagner festival has created a market for other cultural festivals celebrating modern, folk, other classical music, theatre and museum activities throughout the year. Not to mention that due to its level topography and generous cycle lanes, it is particularly easy to explore the city and the surrounding landscapes along the Red Main river. The river gets its name from the fact that it runs through clayey soil and turns a reddish-brownish colour after heavy rains.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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