Sunday, May 31, 2009

Battlefields, Castles and Medieval Towns

Today was the only overcast day so far, dark clouds and a few drops of rain. We were heading up north of Osnabrueck to have our tour of the Varus battlefield in Kalkriese, but first stop was in a town called Rahden, to visit a Museum Hof. This reminded me of a smaller version of the Living History Museum in Detmold. There were having a craftsman day with blacksmith’s and bakers etc. and they had a museum showing costumes and linen items. Linen weaving was a major trade in this area of Germany. We walked through an actual farm house. This was a fantastic example of what a typical farmhouse would have been like centuries ago. The majority of the building is a barn and the living area in the back. An open fireplace, with sausages being smoked overhead and small eating area off to the side. A couple of bedrooms complete the living quarters and you can actually get a feel for how a farm family would have lived in the 1700 & 1800’s.

Kitchen area


Then it started to really rain, so we headed on hoping for the weather to clear. 2009 is the 2000th anniversary of when the German tribesman, Arminius aka Hermann the German, defeated 3 Roman legions led by the Roman general Varus. An English military man stationed in Germany helped to discover the exact location of the battle in the late 80’s and 90’s. (20th century that is) Now there is a museum and we took a tour of the battlefield with an English speaking guide and saw where they found different artifacts from the Romans. It was so interesting; here is a great video on You Tube explaining the history of this battle. I recommend you watch it. Some of our pictures from the field and museum are below also.

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The different standards of the Roman troops ------Me on the embankment defense line.
Walking with our Guide ------------------------The marsh ground that got the Romans!
Walking with our guide through the Forest. ---------- Roman coins found in the field

Monday – Another research day at Bielefeld Archives. Found that my ancestor with the house in Bockhorst, was born in Dissen and found records for him, his father and his father. Good day.

Tuesday – left for Würzburg today. I am going to do a little advance preparation for my September group. When we got there in the afternoon, found the town square to be really crowded, soon found out that the President of Bavaria and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel were there to give some political speeches. Couldn’t understand what they were talking about but the crowd seemed to like them. Kind of fun, like if you showed up somewhere and there was a U.S. President. Lots of security.

For the rest of the week we visited sites in Würzburg and surrounding area. We took a boat ride from Würzburg for about an hour to Veitshochheim, the summer residence castle for the Prince Bishops in days gone by. More beautiful gardens and of course another impressive building. These guys really lived it up.

Cruising Down the River ------------------------ The Prince Bishop Palace

The Garden

Another day we toured the Residence Palace in Würzburg. This was the residence of the Prince Bishop and home to members of his court and government officials. This building is amazing, done in Baroque architecture and has one of the only fully intact ceiling frescoes that was done in one piece. Unfortunately, this building was damaged in WWII, as was much of Würzburg, but they have redone it magnificently. The fresco was not damaged.

The Residence Palace in Würzburg and Garden

We also WALKED up to the fortress which sits way, way, up the hill on the other side of the river. Fortress Marienberg (German: Festung Marienberg) is a prominent landmark on the Main river in Würzburg, Germany. The mighty Fortress Marienberg is the symbol of Würzburg and served as a home of the prince-bishops for nearly five centuries. It has been a fort since ancient times. After Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden conquered the area in 1631, the castle was reconstructed in the Baroque style. Today, it is a park and museum. It was worth the walk and they give English guided tours but also, for those of you going on the September tour, there is a bus that goes up there!

Last but not least, we visited Rothenburg ob der Tauber. A well known tourist city, but it is certainly well worth the visit. It is fantastic, a medieval walled city that is incredibly charming. You can wander the cobble stoned streets for hours, take a break from shopping at one of the numerous outside cafes, make sure to walk the wall and look out over the unspoiled countryside. They also have some museums worth a visit. It was a great day and all in all a wonderful trip. Can’t wait to go back and enjoy them all again.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

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