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Posts Tagged ‘museum’

Fürstenberg porcelain factory

As we travel along the Weser through lots of small picturesque villages we come through Fürstenberg, where we get to have a look at the third-oldest porcelain manufacturer in Germany. The company was founded in 1747 by the order of Duke Karl I. von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel and soon after was ordered to incorporate a blue “F” ( for Fürstenberg) into their design, which became their trademark. Despite changes in company structure and flood disasters the company is still successfully trading today. Nearby is Fürstenberg Castle – from ~1355 – which houses the museum documenting the history and designs of the porcelain factory. The history overview on the company’s web site gives good examples of past and present designs.

Höxter

hoexter_innenstadt_sigurdehlertIn Höxter we will stop for a guided tour through the town centre with its famous half-timbered houses and medieval history.

Since 775 Höxter had been along the major trading routes to the north and east and was heavily sought after. Unfortunately this also caused a lot of hardships during the wars and the town’s wealth declined after the Thirty Years’ War. In the 19th century its fortunes were on the rise again with the founding of a brewery and getting connected to the railway network. Nowadays it is known for the nearby Imperial Abbey of Corvey (UNESCO World Heritage site) and it’s finely restored examples of medieval and Weser Renaissance architecture.

Holzminden

Tillyhaus_HolzmindenOn our way to Bodenwerder we come through the interesting village Holzminden. Another medieval town with lots of picturesque half-timbered houses that has evolved from a wood- and sandstone processing industry to a manufacturing town of a wide range of products, most famously its scent and flavours industry.

While we continue to today’s destination we get to see quite a few more idyllic small villages along the river beckoning for a leisurely look.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

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Once upon a time….

Slavenburg_radduschWhen Würzburg was officially mentioned in a donation from one duke to another in 704 AD it already could look back on a long history of successful settlement in the area. Archeological findings support the existence of a refuge castle on the site of the Marienberg Fortress as far back as 1000 years BC. These refuge castles were built to protect the general populace from marauding soldiers or bandits and usually occupied higher, easy-to-defend ground. During the following centuries the area was populated by a range of Germanic tribes and finally settled by the Franks in the 6th century.

Christianity takes hold

MarienburgIn the 7th century the missionary Saint Kilian settled in Würzburg and began his work preaching and converting the local Duke Gosbert. Unfortunately Gosbert was already married to his widowed sister-in-law Gailana and was told, that this marriage was against the Christian principles that Saint Boniface vehemently fought for. When Galiana heard this – according to the martyr mythology of St. Kilian – she used her husband’s absence and had Kilian and his two companions assassinated. But that did not stop Christianity and under Hedan II’s rule a chapel was built on the hillside dedicated to the Virgin Mary. A site which was believed to be the original site of pagan worship to a mother goddess. Even though the original chapel was replaced due to destruction or changes in architectural tastes, by the Middle Ages the mount and the fortress became known as Marienberg (Mary’s Mount). As the centuries passed – bishops came and went, tastes changed and war damages needed repairing – the look of the mountain top fortress evolved considerably. When WWII wrecked its havoc over Würzburg large parts of the Marienburg Fortress and others were destroyed by bombs and fire. Restoration of the Fortress started in the 1950’s and was finished in 1990.

As with a lot of other historic buildings in Würzburg, restoration was done in the style of the original design of the time, which makes it harder for the lay-person to denote what is truly original and what is restored. Which should be kept in mind when reading the historical and architectural comments to any of them.

A living record

altstadtWürzburg had been a centre for the Catholic Church since its earliest days and as such always had a huge political, intellectual and financial influence on the lives of its citizens. Quite often those decisions had a very bad impact on the rest of the populace and revolts would break out. Whether they were aimed against the ruling clerics (Würzburg guild document), unpleasant neighbours (who got accused of witchcraft), occupying soldiers (Sweden 1631- 34) or members of particular classes (German Peasant’s War), they always ended up changing the city’s structure and appearance, over time creating an incredibly rich tapestry depicting its evolving society.

After your arrival stroll through the old city centre and get up close with history!

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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How to keep ones family happy

Burg Eltz (10561166416) by Dirk VorderstraßeFor one of our other tours we had already written a little piece about this stunning piece of feudal architecture in the Moselle region. What we didn’t tell you then was the fact that this is a current residence for one of the three family branches that own it. While two parts of the complex are generally open to the public – the third owned by the Kempenich side of the family – can only be viewed at particular times of the year.

Burg Eltz 14b by Evolutione003 - Own workThis makes it one of the oldest castles and for the longest period in the possession of one family. Anyone familiar with the problems of feudal ownership in England will understand the financial burden and commitment this family undertakes to maintain the structural integrity for its own history and for the public.

Allemagne07 08 0406 Burg Eltz by Daniel71953 [1] - Own workHistory can be taught in lots of ways, but there’s nothing like being there in person and getting a personal impression of the living conditions of the rich and the poor in those times. After your stroll around the premises tell us which part of the castle is your favourite: the detailed kitchen, opulent Armoury and Treasury or the courtyard surrounded by 500 years of architectural activity?!

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

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Historical meeting place

1280px-Koblenz_im_Buga-Jahr_2011_-_Deutsches_Eck_03Arriving in Koblenz you will see the artificial headland at the confluence of the Moselle and Rhine rivers called the German Corner – ‘Deutsches Eck’. Even though the term “Deutsches Eck” had been in use since 1216 when Archbishop Theoderich von Wied summoned the knights of the Teutonic Order to gift them a church, the associated hospital and some grounds to safeguard local health care, the area referenced by that term now transferred from these grounds to the headland in the 19th century.

Shortly after the death of Wilhelm I. in 1888 many people wanted to have a monument to honour and thank him for the hard-fought unification (three wars in 1864, 1866 and 1871) of Germany. His son chose Koblenz as site in 1891 due to its significance to his father’s and Germany’s history. After expanding the needed area and collecting 1 million Marks (!) through donations, the equestrian sculpture was dedicated in 1897 with his son in attendance.1280px-Deutsches_Eck_LOC

At the end of WWII the monument was destroyed by an artillery shell and the remains were removed and smelted to prevent scavenging. Parts of the figures turned up later and even the head of Wilhelm I, which now is exhibited at the Mittelrhein Museum in Koblenz. The French allies had intended to construct a monument promoting Peace and International Understanding, but the costs were too high and the plans got shelved.

In 1953 it was re-purposed to be a memorial to the German Union. The coat of arms of all the western German Federal States and the missing eastern ones were installed on the pedestal and a flag pole for the German Federal flag installed instead of a central figure.

With the re-unification in 1990 the five new federal states were added to the line-up.

Bring back the old

But, but, there’s a statue, horse, marshal and muse there! Yes indeed! All due to the dedication and financial support of private people again. In 1987 Werner Theisen and his wife Anneliese drew up a legal document pledging their support to the reconstruction of the destroyed monument.

Why? Not sure. It was for his 60th birthday and to commemorate their 30th wedding anniversary, but that still doesn’t quite explain why this couple dedicated such a huge sum of money (3 million Marks) to this particular venture.

As at that time Germany was still divided the offer was rejected as it could send the message that Germany had accepted its divided status. But after the fall of the wall and the official re-unification the politicians changed their tunes and after some tricky ‘gifting’ – meaning changing of financial responsibilities – the statue was finally allowed to be installed.

Rhein in FlammenRemarkably, the couple, believing in their mission, had ordered it already in 1989 and brought to Koblenz in 1992! Due to a different production technique than the original, the pedestal needed to be reinforced more and in September 1993 the statue was finally lifted into its place and inaugurated on the 25th of September that year.

The unification of Germany and its victims are being remembered with three concrete parts of the Berlin Wall which were erected near the monument in 1990.

Today the space is used not only to commemorate important times in Germany’s history, but to celebrate occasions every day. It is used to hold concerts, marathons, exhibitions and is an excellent viewing point for the annual Rhein in Flammen’ fireworks.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

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Fairytale beauty awaits you in Beilstein

BeilsteinMoselPanorama1 (2)Cycling along the Moselle you will have seen plenty of picturesque towns and villages by now, but none has the nickname of Sleeping Beauty of the Moselle.800px-Klosterkirche_Beilstein1 Stopping for a rest and refreshments in Beilstein you will quickly understand why. Even though it is really a small village, it was built to present the appearance of a town with all the trimmings: city centre, church and castle (ruins) on top of the nearby hill. Modern day Bielstein looks very much like its 17th and 18th century version and you can take it all in without having to spend days on your feet exploring all the neighbourhoods. 800px-Beilstein_BW_12Looking at the directory of Cultural Monuments for Rhineland Palatinate one can get the impression that the whole village is on the list!

As a summer attraction the village hosts a marionette theatre from Cochem, which performs various fairy tales. Part of the tradition is performing Sleeping Beauty to open and close the festival in recognition of the villages’ nickname.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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Not just wine

Traben-Trarbach-PanoramaThe idyllic township of Traben-Trarbach can look back on a long recorded history with it first being mentioned in 830AD being gifted to the Münster in Aachen. With all its constituents and surrounding villages! It is also well-known for its thermal spring which has been officially recognized by the state as a therapeutic bath. At 33° Celsius the water comes out of the schistous rock and is used for various health treatments.

1280px-Brückentor_in_Traben-Trarbach_(Ortsteil_Trarbach) (2)In 1898 they built the first bridge over the Moselle south of Koblenz and north of Bernkastel, connecting the two towns of Traben and Trarbach. Unfortunately this was destroyed in the last days of WWII. It was rebuilt in 47/48. Fortunately the original bridge gate was not destroyed and has been kept in excellent condition. The bridge has design elements from the Historism and Art Nouveau periods.

Another first was street lighting: at the end of the 19th century the city – along with a couple of others (Berlin for example) – had installed electric street lamps instead of the customary gas-powered ones.

Row, row, row your boat

1280px-Trarbach_AnlegestelleNonetheless, wine is the major player in this town too and during your boat trip you will be able to admire the richly decorated houses showing off the wealth of the region. As a fire destroyed nearly the whole of Trarbach on 21.7.1857 the town was rebuilt with lots of references to current and past architectural styles, mainly Historicism and Eclecticism.

Local folklore

There’s a famous story about a rich wine grower from Traben. He had a beautiful daughter and wanted her to marry the old captain of a Dutch garrison stationed there. She on the other hand was in love with a young local farmer. They used to meet either at the house of a friend in Kröv or in the old ruins of the Franciscan monastery near Wolf. As the captain found out and told the father about this, they decided to surprise them in the act. But, they didn’t. They waited for hours at the monastery. When they finally decided to leave a storm broke out and they had to stay at the ruins for shelter. The father eventually fell asleep, but the captain didn’t and saw a ghostly procession of monks singing a horrible chant which drove him to run away. In his confusion he ran over a cliff and died. When the father found him the next morning he decided that his daughter could marry the farmer after all. Let’s not stand in the way of true love! By the way, there’s no record of how the marriage went.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

 

 

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