Local Heart, Global Soul

September 20, 2016

The Black Gate Makes A Grand Entrance…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The biggest both figurative and literal surprise for me during our visit to Trier, Germany was The Porta Nigra.

I knew nothing about it before I saw it so when this imposing structure came into view it took my breath away.

The front façade is stunning and although it was apparently even far larger in it’s heyday, what is left is still an architectural marvel. Wikipedia (link at the bottom of this post) tells me:

Porta Nigra” (Latin for black gate) is a large Roman city gate in Trier, Germany.

Today the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps, it is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta. The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side.

For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier. It serves as an entrance to town.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city.

The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle.

The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse.

Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.” After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him.

Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church.

A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate (the much smaller Simeon Gate) was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Wikipedia / Porta Nigra / Trier / Germany

 

September 9, 2016

Your History Defines Your Character…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

As Germany’s oldest city, there are no shortage of old and beautiful buildings to catch your eye in Trier. Wanting to learn more about the city I went on line and found out that:

By the end of the 5th century, Trier was under Frankish rule, first controlled by the Merovingian dynasty, then by the Carolingians. 

As a result of the Treaty of Verdun in 843, by which the grandsons of Charlemagne divided his empire into three parts, Trier was incorporated into the Kingdom of Lorraine (Lotharingia).

After the death of Lothair II, ruler of Lorraine, Trier in 870 became part of the East Frankish Empire, later called Germany, under Henry I.

Many abbeys and monasteries were founded in the early Frankish time, including St. Maximin, St. Martin, St. Irminen, St. Maria and Martyres/St.Mergen and others.

The only important abbey that survived wars and secularization by the French at the beginning of 1800 is the Benedictine abbey St. Matthias in the south of Trier.

Here, the first three bishops of Trier, Eucharius, Valerius and Maternus are buried alongside the apostle Saint Matthias.

This is the only tomb of an apostle to be located in Europe north of the Alps, thus making Trier together with Rome in Italy (burial place of St. Peter the apostle) and Santiago de Compostela in Spain (tomb of St. James) one of three major places of pilgrimage in Europe for Catholics. In 882, Trier was sacked by the Vikings, who burnt most churches and abbeys.

From 902, when power passed into the hands of the archbishops, Trier was administered by the Vogt of the archbishopric, which developed its own seal in 1149. 

From the 10th century and throughout the Middle Ages, Trier made several attempts to achieve autonomy from the Archbishopric of Trier, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

In 1212, the city received a charter from Emperor Otto IV, which was confirmed by Conrad IV. In 1309, however, it was forced to once again recognise the authority of the Archbishop, who was at that time the imposing Baldwin of Luxembourg, son of the Count of Luxemburg.

Elected in 1307 when he was only 22 years old, Baldwin was the most important Archbishop and Prince-Elector of Trier in the Middle Ages. He was the brother of the German King and Emperor Henry VII and his grandnephew Charles would later become German King and Emperor as Charles IV.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

He used his family connections to add considerable territories to the Electorate of Trier and is also known to have built many castles in the region. When he died in 1354, Trier was a prospering city.

The status of Trier as an archbishopric city was confirmed in 1364 by Emperor Charles IV and by the Reichskammergericht; the city’s dream of self-rule came definitively to an end in 1583.

Until the demise of the old empire, Trier remained the capital of the electoral Archbishopric of Trier, although not the residence of its head of state, the Prince-Elector. At its head was a court of lay assessors, expanded in 1443 by Archbishop Jacob I to include bipartisan mayors.

The Dombering (curtain wall of the Cathedral) having been secured at the end of the 10th century, Archbishop Theoderich I and his successor Arnold II later set about surrounding the city by walls. This curtain wall, which followed the path now taken by the Alleenring, enclosed 1.38 square kilometres.

Any cities character is defined by it’s history, and even today, history influences everything from street layout to building styles. I also learned that the systematic of pattern street layout favoured by the Romans was also destroyed in the 882 sacking by the Vikings In 882, proving the one historic event can have major influences that change a city forever.  Regular readers will know that I love detail, and architectural detail is no different.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Wikipedia: Trier / Germany

September 7, 2016

After Almost A Thousand Years Franko Would Be Proud…

Filed under: GERMANY,HISTORY,PHOTOGRAPHY,Trier — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On a stunningly fabulous day last summer, Family Kiwidutch arrived in the Trier city center and knowing what parking can be like in big cities, started following directions for any of the central city parking buldings that weren’t full.

Never one to avoid taking the “scenic route” (Yes, that means we got lost …again!) we weaved our way through small streets trying to get as close to the actual city centre as possible so that I would not have to walk too far.

By sheer chance the lift of the parking building that we choose deposited us close to an amazing building, obviously not just old but seriously ancient, and breathtakingly large.

It was so big in fact that I struggled to get photographs from angles that would do it justice, so have included a link below of other photos of it that have been uploaded by others to Trip Advisor.
I learned from the Trier Tourist Information website (link also at the bottom of this post) that this building is called:  ” Franco’s Tower” and that it is “an 11th century structure  erected in  alternating layers of cut stone and bricks, a typical Roman building technique of the time.
It was built as a residential tower and is the only surviving structure that remains true to it’s original (and recognisable) form . The tower is named by (or after) Franco of Senheim who lived there in the 14th century. 

It appears that there were no entrance(s) at ground level when it was first built, (probably for security reasons if the size of the windows were anything to go by).

The current entrance was added in later centuries. In 1308, the building was reduced by half, and the upper storeys being replaced by a lean-to roof but in 1938, Franco’s Tower was reconstructed to its original form.”
I love how it is evident that the builders literally used materials that were at hand. The different layers of stone are all different sizes and types and stand as testament to the centuries of use, change, repair and resourcefulness.

In many ways this building is an early example of the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra because I have learned that it was common practice at the time to use building materials taken from other buildings being demolished, damaged or that had fallen into disrepair.

Himself tells me that the first plague reads: “Franken Tower, a residential tower from a noble family built in the 11th century and named after it’s owner in the 14th century, the Knight Franko von Senheim“.

The second plaque was more of a problem, it reads something like: “By order of the National German Monument Foundation with the assistance of …. the name of something we don’t know… possibly some sort of sponsor.” Whilst I don’t understand fully who is behind this, we say “Thank You” anyway because beautiful ancient buildings like this need modern benefactors with deep pockets to keep them safe for the next thousand years of their existence.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Trier Tourist Information : Franco’s Tower.

Trip Advisor Photographs: Franco’s Tower / Trier

Trier / Germany

 

September 6, 2016

Discovering Germany’s Oldest City…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Family Kiwidutch visited Germany last summer and one of our extended day trips has brought us to the city of Trier.

It’s a city that I must confess I know nothing about, so start looking up some information on-line, starting with it’s early history.

Wikipedia (link to website at the bottom of this post) tells me that: “Trier,formerly known in English as Treves (French: Trèves), is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle.

Trier lies in a valley between low vine-covered hills of red sandstone in the west of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, near the border with Luxembourg and within the important Moselle wine region.

Founded by the Celts in the late-4th century BC as Treuorum, it was later conquered by the Romans in the late-1st century BC and renamed Trevorum or Augusta Treverorum (Latin for “The City of Augustus among the Treveri”). Trier may be the oldest city in Germany.

It is also the oldest seat of a bishop north of the Alps. The Archbishop-Elector also had great significance as one of the seven electors of the Holy Roman Empire.

With an approximate population of 105,000, Trier is the fourth-largest city in its state.
The historical record describes the Roman Empire subduing the Treveri in the 1st century BC and establishing Augusta Treverorum in 16 BC. The name distinguished it from the empire’s many other cities honoring the first emperor Augustus.

The city later became the capital of the province of Belgic Gaul; after the Diocletian Reforms, it became the capital of the prefecture of the Gauls, overseeing much of the Western Roman Empire.

In the 4th century, Trier was one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire with a population of at least 75,000 and the birthplace of Saint Ambrose, (one of the four original doctors of the Church, and patron saint of Milan).

Around 407 the Roman administration moved approximately 2000 staff of the Praetorian Prefecture from the city, to Arles. Trier continued to be inhabited but was not as prosperous as before.

However, it remained the seat of a governor and had state factories for the production of ballistae and armor and woolen uniforms for the troops, clothing for the civil service, and high-quality garments for the Court.”

Even on the outskirts of the city it is easy to find ancient looking walls and structures, I think our visit here is going to be interesting indeed!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Trier / Germany

 

April 19, 2016

There Is Always Something New (Or Old) To Look At…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Last summer Himself and I gathered up two of our neighbours children, friends of an accompanied by Little Mr. and took them on a Historic tram.

The journey has already taken us to the beach, back via the Statenquartier to the outskirts of the central city and now we prepare to go right through the heart of The Hague.

The weather was perfect for a tram ride, it was a blistering hot Sunday during the summer school holidays so Town was quiet and we rode in the shade.

Judging by the people packed like sardines into trams we saw earlier on the Scheveningenseweg heading to the beach, it would be safe to save that Scheveningen boulevard and beach would be crazily busy.

Himself and I are not a fan of crowds so smiled at each other as we had identical thoughts “Rather you folks than us”.

Our historic tram in comparison is only a quarter full and with the little windows open we have a slight breeze as we glide along the rails. I mentioned in yesterday’s post the after the Art Deco building that belongs to the ABM AMRO bank, there is the De Witt house, but the family moved out of this residence after their father Johan de Witt and his brother Cornelis de Witt, were murdered by Orangists on the Plein less than a block down the road.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

As we pass the Plein in the tram we see the statue of de Witt on the spot where the executions took place. A few meters further we pass the “Gevangenpoort” (Prisoner’s Gate) which is a former gate and medieval prison and as the tram turns right we come onto Buitenhof, another Plein, where cafe’s have their tables out in the sunshine.

One tip though to any would be-armed robber, don’t even think about holding up any of the cafe’s, shops or businesses on the right hand corner because directly above you is the Israeli Embassy and since security there is unreal you would probably get an instant armed response in a magnitude of your worst nightmare.

The tram swings almost instantly to the right as we go around a stunningly beautiful building that used to be called “Maison Bonneterie”, it was undergoing renovation at the time these photos were taken, having been empty for a while, what used to be a very high-end clothes shop became I think a casualty to the competition of on-line shopping. The next landmark on the right is ” ‘t Goude Hooft” which is The Hague’s oldest inn, dating back to 1423. Then on past the shops and restaurants on the right hand side of Grote Kerk (no photos of the church because I was on the wrong side of the tram). A left hand turn takes us into Torenstraat, which in the Dutch tradition of constantly changing street names with almost every intersection then becomes Jan Hendrikstraat for a few blocks before a right turn into the Prinsegracht.

We go past the underground tram tunnel entrance that the trams coming from Central Station use to get past the upper level foot traffic and finally in this post, find ourselves turning left into Brouwersgracht. Obviously this was historically the brewing centre of the Hague, but along with many of the canals in the centre of town, the waterways have long since been filled in (that’s the reason why streets like Prinsegracht and Brouwersgracht are wider than usual). The architecture styles range over multiple centuries, there is always something new, or old to look at… just take a look around.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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Israeli Embassy in the corner…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Maison Bonneterie…  under renovation…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

‘t Goude Hooft…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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Torenstraat looking to the right as we turned left around the corner…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Torenstraat, becomes Jan Hendrikstraat literally metres further on…( we have completed our right hand turn).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Turning into the Prinsegracht…

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Brouwersgracht…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 13, 2016

This 1930’s Beauty Never Looked So Georgous…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(more…)

April 30, 2015

The “Bossche Bol” And The “Moorkop”: Sweet Or Unsweetened Debate…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Nobody can come to ‘s-Hertogenbosch (a.k.a. Den Bosch)  without trying it’s best known speciality: the  “Bossche bol”.

Obviously  we knew all about this delicacy and headed to a cafe advertising this delicacy on offer.

Wikipedia (links at the end of this post) explains the history of this speciality and that of it’s close cousin the “Moorkop”. Both texts are however only available in Dutch so I’ll translate the most important points here for you.

A “Bossche” a ball or sjekladebol (chocoladebol) is a baked choux pastry / profiterole / cream puff  ball about the size of a small adult fist that is filled with cream and given a dark (never milk chocolate) chocolate glaze.

Bossche Bollen (Literally:” Balls from Den Bosch”)  have a diameter of around 12 cm and are thus considered large cakes. Nevertheless, there is also a version with a double cross-section; the so-called “reuzenbol” (“giant ball”).

The delicacy called a “Bossche Bol” outside  ‘s-Hertogenbosch, but inside the city the locals call it a ” sjekladebol ” (Kiwi’s note: “sjekladebol” reflects the local dialect and if you’d like a go at pronouncing it then try a drunkenly slurred version of “chocoladebol” = “shock-laar-der-bol”.

Wiki then goes on to tell me that the Bossche Bol that the difference between these and Moorkops is that the later are not coated with real chocolate, are smaller and come with extra whipped cream on top.

However my Dutch husband strongly disputes the “not using real chocolate” bit and felt that maybe this Wiki piece was written by a someone in the city who might like to big up the local product.

Eating a “Bossche” can of course get rather messy, especially considering all that cream inside, so one tip from the locals is to turn it around so that the chocolate side is down and bite through the softer choux pastry at the bottom, that’s supposed at result in less cream squirting out all over your face, but having watched my children tackle these at other times, that theory remains open for debate. (or I just have messy kids, and yes  …that’s a very strong possibility).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The article goes on to say that the “reuzenbol” (giant ball) , being the even bigger version, has often resulted in visitors reaching for assistance in the form of a knife and fork: something that is seen as exceptionally bad form by the purist locals.

Prior to the twentieth century in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the predecessor of the current Bossche Bol was sold by confectioner Lambermont, in a building at the former Cat Vischstraat number B61.

Lambermont’s “Bol” resembled a Moorkop but was filled with custard.

When  in 1920 the Hague confectioner Henri van der Silk started  the “Hague Confectionery, Lunchroom and Snelbuffet “in Den Bosch also in the Vischstraat (number 25) he developed a variant, with cream filling and topped with real chocolate, which should be seen as his descendants as original of the Bossche bol.   During the course of the 1920’s, Lambermont  also sold the cream filled variant. The name “Bossche Bol” has become established over the course of time, especially with the popularity of the delicacy outside of Den Bosch. The exact recipe for it varies from baker to baker.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, confectionery Jan de Groot  was widely known as ‘the address’ for the Bossche bol.

The bakery was founded in 1936 by Jan de Groot senior and his wife Marie de Groot Van Gaal, but only later, after moving, started selling chocolate balls and other creamy pastries according of course to his own recipe.

For “Bossche Bol” Jan de Groot are now considered as “the originals”.

The secret Bosche Bol recipe is transferred only within the family and in 2000  the “Bossche Bol of Jan de Groot” registered as a protected trademark. The name “Bossche Bol” is thereby  protected, but only the combination with the name of Jan de Groot.

The “cousin” of the Bossche Bol is the “Moorkop” (literally: Moor head, Moors being a traditionally Muslim people of mixed Berber /  Arab ancestry, now living chiefly in northwest Africa)

A Moorkop is also a profiterole pastry filled with whipped cream.

Wiki tells me that a Moorkop is glazed with white or dark chocolate but in over twenty years here I’ve never seen a white glazed one. I asked Himself and he has never seen it either although we once saw one glazed in milk chocolate and it was unusual enough to be a point of conversation.

It’s true that there is usually whipped cream on the top, but in Dutch café’s they have a tendency to pile whipped cream onto almost everything unless you specifically ask them not to.

Wiki tells me that the origin of the  “Moorkop”name also lies in Den Bosch. There was a house named ‘de Moriaan’, and the residents were well known for their cooking, specialising in delicious patisseries.

At some point in time a pastry became a popular delicacy and someone shouted: ‘it looks like a morenkop’ (the stone head of a moor, or black  man , that hung above many pharmacies). That is apparently  how the Moorkop got it’s name.

Himself tells me that there is only one major difference between a Bossche Bol and a Moorkop and that is that a Bossche Bol is filled with unsweetened cream and a Moorkop with sweetened cream, in his opinion the Bossche Bol is nicest because the unsweetened cream is nicer against the sweetness of the chocolate topping whereas the Moorkop can be a little cloyingly  sweet.

Personally, as a near non-cream eater my only way to eat these is to empty all of the cream out of the Bol (or Moorkop) onto Himself’s plate (For him there is no such thing as “too much cream”) from there I just eat the profiterole and the chocolate!

Since Himself was absent on this trip I opted for one of the least creamy pastries in the shop: a slice of apricot pie (I adore apricots), and one of my friends followed in the no-cream option with a slice of apple pie.

The others however opted for a Bossche Bol and it’s by pure coincidence (it was really close to St Jan’s Cathedral)  that we choose the establishment of Jan de Groot to sample Den Bosch’s most famous fare, so the Bossche Bol in the photograph is very much the “real deal”!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bossche Bollen   (text Dutch language only)

Moorkop (text Dutch language only)

February 12, 2015

The Detail Of History…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m continuing yesterday’s post, where we were visiting the Römer, in the historic heart of Frankfurt.

I’m intrigued by the history of it all, and if you are a regular reader you will be more than familiar with my fascination for detail of any kind.

In this instance the architectural detail on display has turned me all dreamy eyed, and in my further reading on Wikipedia I’m equally fascinated by it’s whereby more and more buildings were added to the complex, and interconnected like a rabbit warren.

Therefore this post is a combination of history and detail…

“In 1843, the Frauenstein house and the Salzhaus were added. Finally, in 1878 the city bought the Alt-Limpurg house to the right of theHaus Römer for 214,000 marks.

The current neogothic front with a balcony was built from 1896 to 1900. It was initially planned to be much more imposing, but mayor Franz Adickes decided against Kaiser Wilhelm’s suggestion and had the front designed in a more welcoming manner. 

At the same time, the houses Frauenrode and Viole were demolished to make way for streets through the city centre. They were replaced by a newly erected building to the east. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This new building is divided into two wings by the Braubachstrasse. These two wings (the north wing and south wing) are connected by a bridge.

The Frankfurt citizens, who paid their taxes in the north wing, named the covered bridge the Seufzerbrücke (the “Bridge of Sighs”) in reference to the other Bridge of Sighs in Venice. 

The two towers in the south wing attracted nicknames as well: the larger one was called Langer Franz (Tall Franz) in homage to the city’s tall mayor and the smaller one the Kleiner Cohen (Small Cohen) after a popular song of the time.”

It’s now that the penny drops… I used photographs of the “Bridge of Sighs”  in a blog post a few days ago without being aware that it was connected to the Römer, and indeed since it’s some distance away from the other buildings it shows just how far the “rabbit warren” of buildings extends.

“On the night of March 22, 1944, the Römer, along with the rest of the centre of Frankfurt, was largely destroyed in one of the heaviest Allied bombing attacks of the Second World War.

Rebuilt after the war, the Alt-Limpurg, the Römer, and the Löwenstein houses, whose roof structure had in part withstood the attack, were restored in a simplified form as were the completely destroyed houses Frauenstein and Salzhaus.  This resulted in the Löwensteinhouse having an open stairwell. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Römer was re-inaugurated in 1955. Further restoration took place in 1974 and 2005 when the houses on the Römerbergregained the neogothic look of 1900.

The entire three-storey building complex occupies about 10,000 square metres and consists of nine houses, encircling six courtyards. The front, with today’s main entrance, faces the Römerberg plaza.

The famous three-peaked façade has medieval elements of design: The left-hand corner of the Alt-Limpurg displays the so-called Frankfurtia, the female embodiment of the city. In the centre, the Haus Römer shows the four kaisers of the Holy Roman Empire, two city coats of arms, a clock face, and a placard describing the most important facts about the building.

The four kaisers are Frederick Barbarossa ( first king to be elected in Frankfurt), Louis the Bavarian (gave convention rights to the city and allowed expansion of the city), Charles IV ( made Frankfurt the location of the Kaiser selection vote), and Maximilian II ( first kaiser crowned in Frankfurt cathedral).

Another approach was chosen for the design of the fronts of the two north-east houses (the Wanebach and the Salzhaus). In contrast to the other houses in the complex, instead of reconstructing the old Wilhelminean front, the architects created a completely new design using a combination of medieval timber framing and modern styles. The mosaics in the timber frames feature the motif of a phoenix, a symbol for modern Frankfurt’s new start after the war.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Bridge of Sighs” … (that I posted previously, not knowing what it was…)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%B6mer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%B6merberg_%28Frankfurt%29

April 28, 2014

One Hundred Years Makes a Difference (… Or Maybe Not?).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Gemeente Den Haag (The Hague City Council) put some large photographic billboards around the city some years ago as part of the  celebration of the one hundred years anniversary of the Gemeente archive department.

As someone interested in local history I was intrigued to see that although they had a temporary website where all of the billboard sites were listed, there were sadly no present day photographs to contrast the historical images with, so Himself and I set out to do this ourselves.

With roughly eighty billboards we were kept busy, Luckily Himself and I developed a technique whereby he drove and I darted in and out of the passenger seat to take photographs.

In some places traffic was heavy and I would leap out whilst he stood waiting at traffic lights and if there were no parking spaces he’d go around and around the block until I dashed back to be picked up and then we were off to the next one.

The result is an almost complete series of  “then” and “now” photographs which document the living changes that the city I live in has undergone, the oldest of the billboard photographs is one hundred and fifty years old, the most recent some thirty years old. The most  radical changes haven’t always been where we expected them to be either, this city, like life is full of surprises.

The caption on this particular Billboard reads “Jan van Nassaustraat hoek Weissenbruchstraat, Prentbriefkaart uitg. door Dr. Trenkler, Circa 1905” which translates as “Corner of Jan van Nassaustraat and Weissenbruchstraat , postcard issued by Dr. Trenkler, circa 1905”.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Even though the old photograph was taken over one hundred years ago,  you can see that more or less the only change has been that the trees are much bigger, the details of the buildings remain almost exactly the same. (The rest of the street is exactly the same too, but with all the trees in leaf when I took the photos that was harder to capture).

The style of the houses here are what the Dutch call a “Herenhuis“. There is no specifically exact translation into English except for the rather literal ” gentleman house” but basically these were houses of the gentry, well to do merchants, or families of old money who lived in large city houses characterised by their large rooms richly decorated with ornate plasterwork and cornices, large fireplaces, high ceilings and stained glass windows. One house occupied two, three or four floors and had the attic space and sometimes a cellar as well.

This was in contrast with the more common Dutch style of living which was (and still is)  to have a building of three floors but with a different house on each floor. In every Dutch city (with the exception of Rotterdam because of the World War II bombardment that levelled most of the city) you can still find entire neighbourhoods of Herenhuizen, they stand in joined up rows one after another just like the ones in this photograph.

Traditionally they were the residences of the professionally employed such as Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants, Judges etc and of wealthy families who made their money in trade. These days they are very desirable homes, but a good many of them has been split into separate apartments because they are still very expensive to buy (or rent).

If I won the lottery this is the kind of house I would buy, they are full of character, charm and detail. What’s not to love?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

April 22, 2014

An Experience You Will Always Remember: Make No Bones About That…

Filed under: FRANCE,HISTORY,Paris: Catacombes de Paris,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The recommendations of a local can take you to some rather strange places.  In this case, whilst in Paris in the spring of 2009 very, very strange indeed.

I was advised from one of my French friends that this was indeed a tourist spot, but since it’s further down the list than the Louvre, Notre-Dame, Tour Eiffel, Arc de Triomphe etc many short stay tourists never make it here due to time constraints.

The reason I’m in Paris is to meet up with an American foodie friend and her husband, as they spend three days in Paris with their tour group and after our lunch it was rather a laugh to surprise them with the news of our next destination:  “Catacombes de Paris” (The Paris Catacombs).

We learn from the guide  that much of the stone that built the beautiful Paris buildings was quarried from deep under the city streets and that many centuries past cemeteries were located in the central city and not out around the city limits, which became problematic once the city grew and the graveyards became full.

Solutions were tried, such as stacking graves and then once that had reached it’s limit old bones were exhumed and stacked into the cemetery side walls: some of which then collapsed under the sheer weight  and so it was clear that a better solution must be found.

The Catacombs website (link below) tells me: “Disused quarries were chosen to receive the remains; the City of Paris had in fact just completed a general inspection of the quarries, in order to strengthen the public highways undermined by them. 

The transfer of the remains could begin after the blessing and consecration of the site on April 7th 1786, and it continued until 1788, always at nightfall and following a ceremony whereby a procession of priests in surplices sang the service for the dead along the route taken by the carts loaded with bones, which were covered by a black veil. Then, until 1814, the site received the remains from all the cemeteries of Paris.Since their creation, the Catacombs have aroused curiosity. In 1787, the Count d’Artois, the future Charles X, made the descent, along with Ladies of the Court.  In 1814, Francis I, the Emperor of Austria living victoriously in Paris, visited them. In 1860, Napoleon III went down with his son.

The Paris Catacombs re-opened on June 14th 2005, after several months of closure for building work. The lighting has been adjusted, the vaults strengthened and the walls of bones put back. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The official name for the catacombs is  l’Ossuaire Municipal. (The Municipal Ossuary)  Located south of the former city gate (the “Barrière d’Enfer” at today’s Place Denfert-Rochereau), the ossuaries holds the remains of about six million people.

We take the stairs into the gloomy darkness below… my point and shoot camera severly struggled in the low light so this is one place you really have to see in person: nothing can prepare you for the amazement of this place…

Do check the website if you plan to visit, since the entrance is rather unassuming and directly off the street there are for instance no public convinces on site, the temperature below ground is 14°C, with 130 steps down and 83 steps back to street level there is no accessibility for people with reduced mobility, the tour is unsuitable for young children or for people with heart or respiratory problems, and children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.

That said I would take my children once they are old enough, this is an amazing experience, it’s history at it’s most stark and real, these bones are from real people, there’s a certain profound reverence and respect that falls on the visitor as they journey through the tunnels. It’s a place that  no amount of  photographs can do justice, you have to get the feel of the place by going there.  One thing is for certain, it’s an experience you will always remember: …make no bones about that.

 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The walls by the visitors are actually stacks of bones…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Robespierre (1758-1794) is famous enough to get a special side chamber to himself…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

http://www.catacombes.paris.fr/

CATACOMBS
1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy – 75014 Paris
Open daily from 10am to 5pm, except Mondays and public holidays. Last admission: 4pm.

Tickets go on sale on site only, no online booking available.

 

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