Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Ancient Wallled-City of Büdingen, 4 February 2017

From the upper end of the city looking along the wall of the old city
We drove a short distance on this Saturday to Büdingen for a guided tour of the old city and lunch in a small cafe. The city is ancient and was never damaged by war in any significant way. Our tour guide was a charming, intelligent woman who deeply loves her little town and its history. She relished sharing the long history of the city with us and was especially proud of its long history of religious toleration. It is a protestant town that over the centuries had Jewish and Catholic residents. The citizens got along for the most part. The town also opened its arms to French Protestants who were driven out of their homeland (Hugenots). The arrived in Büdingen and felt they had found their promised land. They knelt before the gate to the city and gave thanks that they had found their "Jerusalem." The main gate of the old city is still called the Jerusalem Gate. Our guide walked us to the cafe after our tour. We invited her to join us, but she said that she had plans to go "wandern" in the hills and woods. Germans love to hike and there are whole groups called Wandergruppen - a sort of club that organizes hikes in the country and in the cities. One of those recently asked to include our chapel in Offenbach as part of their hike. Our executive secretary, Brother Nau, met them and took them through the building with the help of our two young missionaries Elder Davis and Elder Fuller.

Bridge across the now dry moat through the Jerusalem Tor
Jerusalem Gate from inside the old city. The towers and the gate or now a museum full of geological exhibits.
View through the gate toward the "new" town where the Hugenots settled when they arrived.
Elder and Sister Kay, Elder and Sister Steineckert and our guide at a model of the city
A portion of the earliest town wall now part of a house. A woman who lived here was tried for witchcraft but refused to confess even after repeated torture. The ground level now has a small museum devoted to the 1950s - odd combination of medieval and 1950s rock and roll. We passed on the museum.

Note the large frog sculpture on the face of the building. 



After a few centuries the buildings sag a little. The town was built in a wet, swampy valley. The castle and the old town rest on centuries-old oak planks, placed horizontally across vertical beech piles. The water level has to be kept high enough so that no air can reach these foundations.

Bronze model of the old city. the extension in the foreground is the "new" town settled by French Hugenots
Street in the old city
Area between the older city wall and the expanded wall is now a garden (bare this time of year)

The garden area is also a car park inside the old city wall

A section of the old city wall used as part of someone's home today

Oldest wall to the left

The gardens must be lovely in the spring. A doctor who was much loved by the townspeople, developed an extensive herb garden to use in medicines. The garden fell to ruin but was restored by the town in the 1990s.
A model of the old city inside one of the towers we visited.
The model represents the city in 1640. It was built and painted by two city residents over 3 years and more than 5,000 hours of labor.
Interior of the tower looking up. In the middle ages there were multiple floors above where defenders could position themselves to defend the city wall.
Tower at the Jerusalem gate

In a dungeon room looking up. There was no door originally. Prisoners were lowered into the cell through a hole in the ceiling. 

Prisoners were chained to the stone ball so that they could not escape (fat chance).
Janet anxious to leave the dungeon

Sister Mumm taunting everyone from the top of the stairs
View from a tower slit down the moat
Year carved in the stone of the prison cell in 1561.
Last stop on the tour was the old church (protestant). Here we heard the legend of the frogs. A young women was sent to Büdingen in an arranged marriage. She was a teenager and just wanted to go home. The people and the count loved her and wanted her to stay. Rather than say she was a homesick girl, she said that she couldn't stand to stay because the frogs made too much noise at night. The citizens organized a massive frog hunt and eliminated the frogs, the noise, and her excuse, so she stayed, had a large family and served the people. Well, that's the story anyway.
The old church was positioned east and west. There was a latter addition north and south. 

The newer addition from the outside
The interior, like most protestant churches is relatively unadorned except for the Moravian star in the ceiling. There was a story about the star, too, that we can't remember.

The woman on the right of the epitaph frieze is the teenager who couldn't stand the frogs.


Detail from the frieze
The count looks much older than his wife

Beautiful stone carving of the count's hand resting on the hilt of a sword


Standing in triumph on a lion
Gathered for lunch in a little cafe called the Hexenstübchen (The Witches Little Room). It was warm and cozy, and they had great soup.

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