Showing posts with label Württemberg history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Württemberg history. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Freudenstadt, at the top of the Black Forest

What a history this place has!

In one of my many sojourns throughout Germany, I made a last-minute decision to take a tram from the city of Karlsruhe all the way up through the Black Forest to Freudenstadt, the largest city on top of the Black Forest range. The city, whose name actually means City of Joy, was founded for Huguenots (French Protestants) in 1599 by the Protestant Duke Friederich of Württemberg, who invited them to come into his domains to escape further persecution, this time by Catholics in Salzburg. This was not the first time German princes had welcomed French Huguenots who were escaping persecution and death because of their faith. The Germans had another good reason for inviting them into their domains: the Huguenots were hard workers and merchants.

Part of the market square in Freudenstadt. Unless one is in an airplane, it is
very difficult to get the entire square into one shot.

It was autumn when I visited here and I clearly recall how much cooler it was up here than down in Karlsruhe, near the banks of the Rhine River below. The city is 736m (2415 ft.) above sea level and has a population of just under 24,000. It boasts the largest market square in all of Germany, and I can tell you that if indeed there is a larger market square in the country, it must be the size of the Vatican because this is indeed huge. It appears to be perfectly square and has several dozen fountains within it. 

Toward the end of World War II, the city was severely damaged - vast swathes of it were burned in a devastating fire. Interestingly, in keeping in mind the fact that its founders had already once escaped religious persecution by the French hundreds of years ago, it was Allied French forces which played a large part in its destruction in April 1945. Yet, since then, it has been meticulously restored. 

Upon arrival and after my scenic tram journey up the sides of the Black Forest's mountains, I decided to find a nice café for coffee and, well, Black Forest cake, of course: that cherry and whipped-cream delight with a flavoring of espresso and cocoa. I chose a café on the expansive market place and ordered coffee to go with it, of course. There were numerous tourists who mostly seemed to be retired. The service was slow, as is often the case in Germany, but the as is often the case, the cake was worth the wait. 

I think my favorite structure in the city has to be the church on one corner of the market square. It was constructed in an 'L' shape. As can be seen in the photographs below, there are two steeples, or towers, which stand at the end of each wing, with only one containing the clock faces. The reason for this interesting construction is that at the time the original church was built between 1601 and 1608, Protestant men and women were to sit separately, and by having two distinct wings, this was more easily ensured. The pulpit is directly in the middle at the angle, so the pastor had a clear view of everyone in the congregation.

As can be seen in the photograph above and below, the arcade which is part of the rest of the vast market square which this church helps to create as one of the square's corners, is part of the church itself just as it is on all of the neighboring structures. 

The Stadthaus (city house) can be seen through the arcade of
a house next to the Evangelical Lutheran Church

Other side of the church: street view of the 
Lutheran church outside the Market Place

One of a number of independently standing structures on the market square. Note the
obligatory arcade which is on all structures which make up the perimeter of the
market square of Freudenstadt

Another angle of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and its

Windows and shutters of one of the many beautiful houses of
Freudenstadt. I don't know anything regarding the background as
to why that toy VW bus is on the flower box support, but it was the
original reason for this photo.

There are many beautiful, large homes in Freudenstadt that were built around the turn of the 19th-20th centuries. Unfortunately I don't know anyone from there, so I can't honestly tell you the history as to why they are here. I want to think that perhaps they were vacation homes used as mountain retreats in the hot summers, but the houses are particularly large for vacation homes, so maybe some were built as flats or apartments just as they are today. Whatever the case, many are certainly worth walking past to admire. 

The designs on the walls of the house appealed to me. Very quaint

Shopping and living quarters are mixed here as they are in so many other European

Getting there:

From Karlsruhe main train station the trip is about two hours. Trams run several times an hour. 
From Stuttgart main train station, the train journey is about one hour 25 minutes. Trains run roughly once an hour except midday when it is twice. 


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Deggingen Abbey all dressed in autumn

I should have posted this a very long time ago, but I forgot the details of the place and instead of doing my online research then, I just pushed it under the rug. Nevertheless, here it is and here as well goes the short, simple description of my visit one Sunday (or was that a Saturday?) about five years ago to the abbey of Deggingen, located in central Baden-Württemberg, and a lovely drive from Stuttgart.

The Ave Maria Chapel of Deggingen.

It was a gorgeous, late-autumn morning and a friend and I drove out of Stuttgart along a beautiful route lined with forest-filled vistas boasting one of the most beautiful Indian-summer days I had yet experienced in Germany. Yes, 'Indian summer' - Germans seem to have reinvented the meaning of that phrase to refer only to the colorful autumnal foliage, rather than the original way we North Americans use it. I've given up telling them what it really means, but it doesn't really matter. Regardless, the car ride in itself was worth every kilometer and the abbey proved to be the cherry on the cake (chocolate of course) of the day.

The abbey is located in what is known as the Schwäbische Alb (google it ;-). Its Chapel of the Ave Maria was constructed between 1716 and 1718 by a Capuchin Order of monks. In the early 20th century, the monastery itself was built. Today only a small handful of brothers and their pastor live there and offer pastoral care to the community.

The chapel of the Ave Maria itself is known as a pilgrimage church. It belongs to the parish of Deggingen, which can be seen in the background in the photo below. Several of the stations of the cross are also shown in the foreground leading up to the sanctuary.

The abbey buildings are of a simple, yet elegant design. Nestled against the forest which surrounds the abbey on three sides, the pale-lemon paint on the walls of the buildings contributes to the charming scene it creates for approaching visitors.

The chapel ceiling

The golden-orange showpiece above the altar in the photo above is of the Ave Maria. It is late Gothic. I learned from Wikipedia (perish the thought) that it was done by an unknown artist of the 15th century.

The setting of the abbey is indeed lovely and serene. It is still a place of pilgrimage and I can understand why. Since we were there in the fall, apples were for sale everywhere. I really like it when, depending on the season, you are walking along and come upon a table with apples or cherries that are either bagged or are in a little carton and a small sign on the table tells you how much money to leave in the tin for the purchase, and no one is around to make sure everyone is honest. That is trust, and I dare say it is probably usually honored. I've gotten some good fruit that way!

Getting there:

- You can take a regional train (RE) from Stuttgart main station to Geislingen station and then a 22-minute bus ride to the "Abzw. Ave Maria". This would take you about 2 hours. 

- The other rail option is to take an inter-city (IC) train from Stuttgart to Göppingen and then the bus for a 1:45-minute trip.

- Lastly, there is an inter-regional express (IRE) which is the fastest from Stuttgart, though it still includes the bus; this is about one hour altogether. I would take this one. The walk from the bus stop to the abbey is very nice. It isn't far at all.

- Otherwise, you can rent a car and find it yourself. Don't forget the navigator. After you turn off the main road there is a parking area below the abbey at the end of the drive.  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bebenhausen Abbey and Royal Hunting Lodge (re-post)


I have reposted this page as I found it way too long in its original posting last year.  You will find here a collection of photographs, many unlabelled, of the last residence of the king and queen of Württemberg, who "retired" here after the end of the monarchy in 1918. 

Bebenhausen was a private hunting residence of the Württemberg royal family for generations, long after it had served as a Cistercian monastery and later a boarding school following the Reformation. It is beautifully nestled in southern Germany, south of the Baden-Württemberg's capital city, Stuttgart, and not far from the renowned university town of Tübingen.

Today, Bebenhausen is a museum. It is quite active, as is the village around it. Photographs of the village can be found further down. Queen Charlotte died shortly after World War II, but remained here until her last days. The large lodge within the complex where the king and queen, styled Duke and Duchess after their abdication, lived can be visited. Their furnishings are still in place. It is definitely worth seeing. The duchess was an avid hunter, and the walls are lined with her trophies.

Bebenhausen is located in the Schönbuch Forest between the ancient university town of Tübingen and the city of Stuttgart, capital of the present-day federal state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. 

Before becoming a royal hunting lodge, Bebenhausen had been a boarding school as well as an abbey before that. It was originally built around 1180 for  Cistercian monks. It remained a cloistered community until 1560 when the Reformation was spreading throughout Germany.

Entrance to the ancient Abbey of Bebenhausen

Above: A substantial amount of the walls around the abbey / hunting lodge remain in tact today.

Jagdschloß (Royal Hunting Lodge) of Bebenhausen is today just as it was when the 
royal couple lived there. 

View of the cloister garden

The inner cloister "walk" as I call it.

Another view of the inner cloister garden which was similar throughout many Cistercian
designs in this part of the world

Ceiling of the former Refectory

Part of the wall that once completely surrounded the Abbey

Student dormitory

After the Abbey was disbanded, it later became a school for boys. Rooms where the monks once lived became a dormitory for the students. One can only imagine winters here as there was no heating. 

The Writer's Tower as seen from the upper garden  




What I found quite interesting were the "House Rules" on a kitchen wall. One of the rules was that all staff members must remember toonly speak on the grounds or in the upstairs royal rooms when they are spoken to by higher-ups or the Duke or Duchess themselves. Otherwised, silence or "quiet" was expected. Such was life in service at that time.

Writer's Tower
as seen from a kitchen 


It is worth mentioning that the buildings that housed the royal couple still have the kitchens in place. It is most interesting to see how the "downstairs" people lived and worked before 1946. The stoves and other appliances of the day that were used in the service area are original and are also on display. 

Ceilings and chandeliers in the formal dining room. When the king was finished eating 
and his plate was removed, the plates of the guests were removed as well, whether you 
were finished or not. I hope H.M. wasn't too fast an eater.

To the memory of
Württembergs beloved King
(Born) Stuttgart, 25 Feb. 1848 - 2 Oct. 1921 (at Bebenhausen)
(Born) Ratiboritz, 10 Oct. 1864 - 16 July 1946, (at Bebenhausen)


The village surrounding the Royal Hunting Lodge and former abbey of Bebenhausen


Most all of the village is Fachwerk (half-timbered). Note the stream running through 
the central "square" of the village, directly outside of the main gate of the abbey-palace.

Visiting the hamlet of Bebenhausen is completely worth the trip for anyone who appreciates not only history, but also hiking, walking, photography and simply a lovely day out in nature. Autumn is also a perfect time to go as the trees create a different ambience throughout the village. Although I have given little focus to the abbey's church here (the beautiful spire was completely covered with scaffolding for renovations, so I avoided having that "modern mess" in any of my shots), it is most definitely worth the visit. Guided tours are offered and a visitor's center in the middle of the abbey complex is quite helpful.

How to get to Bebenhausen

No train lines or trams run there. Click here for a road map from Stuttgart. The 826 or 828 bus runs to Bebenhausen from the Tübingen main train station. The trip is roughly 20 minutes. Ask the bus driver where to get out. Bebenhausen is small, so you won't have to walk far from the bus stop to get to the the Kloster (abbey). Trains run regularly from Stuttgart main station (HBF) to Tübingen. The trip takes anywhere from 42 minutes to 1 hour depending on the train. Check Deutsche Bahn for times and costs.