Looking out from my rain-drop spattered window from the bus through the rolling green hills of Bavaria, I was not sure what to expect from this small pastoral parish. Stepping out from the bus, the rain let up as if on cue for me as I ventured up the path to a set of rough grain grey wooden doors. However, the saying "Don't judge a book by its cover" could not be any more applicable then for the Wieskirche. Entering into the interior of the church through a side door of the narthex, the splendor of this small alpine sanctuary unfolded before me. The story behind the founding of this shrine is as unique and beautiful as the structure itself. An old, wooden statue depicting Jesus on a column after being flagellated was said to be put in a back room in storage after years of service to traveling pastoral priests appeared to have tears shedding from the eyes. Falling out of adornment, the statue was once again revered by pilgrims from afar as the word spread of this miraculous statue. Two years after discovering the teary eyed Savior, a small chapel was constructed in 1740 to provide a place of worship to the incoming pilgrims from as Italy. As the numbers of worshipers continued to rise, the Abbot of the Premonstratensians called for a more deserving sanctuary for the statue of the Scourged Savior. The abbey had an answer to their call in 1745 for an architect for the task at hand and his name was Dominikus Zimmermann.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Sunday, May 25, 2014
Rising above the red tile Palatine roofs of the Old Town of the picturesque river city of Heidelberg is the iconic tower of Heiliggeistkirche, or the Church of the Holy Spirit. As I rode the bus from the train station along the winding streets, this beacon was calling my name, but after touring in the ruins of the old castle first! For anyone who visits this amorous city, I highly recommend paying the few euros it takes to enter the old castle grounds for this stunning view of the Old Town's beating heart: Heiliggeistkirche. Once I made my way down the bergbahn from the ruins and out unto the cobbled streets, I answered that alluring call to the ancient sanctuary echoing through the steep valley walls of Odenwald.
This being my second full day in Germany, my inner explorer was getting more and more brave. For €2, I made the climb up the 204 spiraling stairs up to the viewing deck which is about two thirds the way up the tower. The climb was not too bad until that last leg of the climb where the stairwell was clearly more accommodating to the average height about four centuries ago rather than my six foot and some! That and I also had my pack on which made the climb more of a workout, probably for the better being I had just had three wursts and a pint of beer! Although the view from the gardens of the castle are spectacular, I would have to say that the view from the tower is the best of the best that Heidelberg has to offer!
Starting my fourth day of explorations in Germany was like waking up on Christmas morning. As tempting as it was to skip eating breakfast, I am glad that I did not! After becoming more accustomed to the ways of breakfast in Germany, I enjoyed my morning course of various cheeses with rich-flavored breads with perfectly smoked slices of ham and sausages along with delicious locally made yogurt with a mix of fresh berries on top... and at the persuasion of my hostess a warm coffee beer! All in all, this was a great way to kick off the morning's adventures in the amazing city of Ulm!
This impressive palace stands today as one of the most original examples of Baroque architecture in all of Europe, although I find the fact that this royal residence was first laid out to be a hunting lodge of Duke Eberhard Ludwig in 1704 quite interesting. As the construction progressed, the Duke favored the area and made a few "minor" additions and made the lodge into an new principle royal residence. As the residence was passed down the line, the palace expanded especially under the reign of King Frederick I. The King enlarged this already regal palace to a size more suitable for his status and stature being he stood at 6'11" and weighed in at more than 400 pounds! Notably baroque in style, the influences of Rococo and Neoclassicism can be found throughout the 452 rooms of the residence, notably the two chapels and the numerous apartments.
I highly recommend taking the guided tour offered by the palace, but in addition to that purchase the access tickets to the gardens! I was fortunate enough to come to the palace while the harvest festival was underway. Below is one example of about thirty creations made of pumpkins and gourds of all colors, shapes and sizes. Not only is the palace one of the largest examples of Baroque architecture, it is one of the most complete in original condition. After touring for the better part of the day, I highly recommend going just outside of the courtyard to Cafe Schlosswache. There I had the best schnitzel during the two weeks that I spent feasting like a king in Germany!