Saturday, July 23, 2016

Close to Home - Bad Homburg, 18 June 2016

Enormous cedar of Lebanon planted by an English princess
June 18 was a chilly, damp day, and we decided to stay close to home. Bad Homburg is just north of Frankfurt and is a 20 minute ride by car. There is a castle, of course, and a few interesting churches. We met the Mumms who live nearby in Friedrichsdorf where the temple is located. The Jarrards and the Snapps joined us as well. The town was very quiet in the morning.

Count Friedrich Joseph Ludwig Carl August was an interesting character. He was a Hessian military hero. His principality was just 85 square miles. Despite his mother's strenuous objections, he married Elizabeth, the third daughter of George III of England. We didn't get along with George III, as you recall.

When he married Elizabeth (for her sizeable dowry) she was 48 years old. On the occasion of their marriage in 1818, she brought 16 cedars of Lebanon in pots to Bad Homburg. They were a gift from her brother, the Duke of Cambridge. She planted 12 in an English garden that was built for her, but they froze in the winter of 1829. The other 4 were planted in areas where they survived. There are two in the lawn of the palace in Bad Homburg that have become enormous. The trunk of the largest (in the picture above) is 21 feet in diameter. It is spectacular. Imagine these massive trees being harvested in Lebanon for Solomon's temple. Of course, given how wet it is in Germany, they undoubtedly grow much faster than in the comparatively arid slopes of Lebanon.

There is a tower called Der Weisse Turm in the palace courtyard that is a keep that dates back to the 14th century. Three of the group (Jeff, Elder Newman, and Elder Snapp) rented a key and climbed the tower. That's 174 steps.

The rest of the palace is much newer. The only portion open for a tour are the apartments of Elizabeth to which she moved after the death of Count Friedrich in 1829. She was much admired by the people as she had a kind heart and sought to alleviate the poor. She was also an artist, and some of her work was on display.

Weisser Turm
Palace from the garden entrance

The large cedar of Lebanon

Wing of the palace dating to the 1700s

The count was a cavalry officer
Friedrich II was a generous soul. He sheltered French Protestants (Huguenots) when millions of them were driven out of France in the late 1600s. They founded the town of Friedrichsdorf and named it in his honor. He supposedly said, "I would rather sell my silverware than deny these poor people asylum." The current B├╝rgermeister (mayor) of Friedrichsdorf called on that history to persuade his fellow citizens to welcome refugees to their community. We were housing some of the refugees in temple housing that is currently not in use while the temple is being renovated.

The castle court overlooks formal gardens that are very large

Felt overshoes for touring Elizabeth's apartments

Black lacquer furniture

We liked the blue walls in this room

Elizabeth was short and need the stool to climb into this bed
The views from the White Tower were really nice. It was a bit hazy and overcast, but the sights from the top were still impressive.

Looking south toward Frankfurt

Protestant (foreground) and Catholic churches just outside the castle wall

Toward Friedrichsdorf

Some of the formal gardens below the castle

Frankfurt skyline visible even on a hazy day

Janet is sitting just under the awning down there
The churches just outside the castle wall were really beautiful, especially the large Protestant church with the 4 towers. It was built at the turn of the 20th century. Other than LDS temples, where do people build these sacred spaces today?

Protestant Church of the Redeemer
Part of our group
Beautiful stone work and doors

Janet wants a door like this at home

Close up of the iron work on the doors

We love stained glass. This window is huge.

All of the ceiling was covered in mosaic tile

The apse behind the main altar

Many of the medieval churches are dark and the artwork depicts a dead Christ. The Christ here looks distinctly Eastern (Orthodox) but He lives and looks powerful. 

Colors are brilliant

A lighted piece in the baptistry

Detail of some of the mosaic work on the arches 
Less than a block away is the older Catholic church of St. Marien.

Another set of beautiful doors. Great depiction of Moses encountering Jehovah and the burning bush in the relief above the doors. 
We wandered into the old city and found a place to eat. Instead of a good German meal, we ended up in a vegetarian restaurant run. Our waitress was a sweet girl from South Africa. Jeff talked to her and gave her a pass along card. The vegan quiche was tasty but starchy. The soy cheese was - well, let's say we won't run back for more.

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