Sunday, May 21, 2017

Visit to Fulda 20 May 2017

Fulda Cathedral
Fulda is in a small corner of Hesse, Germany, and is part of the Hanau Ward. It is 25 km west of Thüringen which was in the former East Germany and 25 km north of Bavaria (Franken). It is a small city (about 100,000 if you include the adjacent suburbs) on the Fulda River in the middle of rolling green hills and forests. Fulda was of little military interest during World War II and might have passed through the war without significant damage from Allied bombing raids, but on a day in 1944 when a British bombing run was foiled by really bad weather farther north, they unloaded their payloads over Fulda rather than take them back to England. There were many deaths, and there was damage to many historical buildings, including the 18th century cathedral above - the chapel that juts out at the left of the picture above was destroyed.

Fulda was founded by a Benedictene monk from the south of England in the 700s. His name was Bonifacius and he is called "the apostle to the Germans" because he was a very successful Christian missionary. He built a monastery in Fulda and the first church (where the current cathedral stands). He was still active as a missionary into his 80s - an extreme old age at the time - when he was murdered by the people of Dockum in the Netherlands (he was stabbed in the head!). His body was returned to Fulda where it was buried in the church he helped build there. His tomb has remained in the same spot since then and is in a crypt under the main altar of the current cathedral.

In the Holy Roman Empire days when secular and ecclesiastical power were combined, the bishop of Fulda was called a Prince Abbot and at one point of Prince Bishop. He controlled a large territory, collected a lot of taxes, and built the large cathedral and a large baroque residence. Unfortunately, we did not take any pictures inside the residence, but there are some pictures of the orangerie and the gardens.

After World War II, Fulda became a symbol for the Cold War. It sits in the Fulda Gap, and there were thousands of tanks aligned on either side of the Iron Curtain waiting to meet in this valley. Thank heavens that never happened.
Baroque palace of the Prince Bishop - now the city hall with administrative offices. There are some wonderful historical rooms that are open for viewing.
Monument to St. Boniface
A bit of medieval wall in an alleyway
The medieval city was surrounded by a defensive wall 7 meters tall and quite thick. The wall had 10 towers of which one remains. Now called Der Hexenturm (the witches' tower) as a kind of memorial to 270 victims of witch trials held in Fulda in the late 17th century. The large door or window in the tower is approximately where the top of the ancient wall would have been.
There was a great bakery and shop across the street from the Hexenturm. We made two stops there - one in the morning for pastry and one in the afternoon for an ice cream cone.

The Cathedral from the south side
Garden on the south side of the cathedral in front of part of the old abbey which is now a cathedral museum
Janet with our friend Sister Anne Lovell
The plaza on the east side (front) of the cathedral is large and is used for concerts and other events. the smaller church to the right is St. Michaels and is one of the oldest churches in Germany.
West side of the cathedral built in just 8 years between 1704 and 1712
In a garden outside the cathedral, a choir was warming up. They performed while we were inside, and the sound in that vast space was magical. And yes, the choir is singing shalom. 

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Marvelous organ. Wish we could have heard it played. There was a concert at noon, but we had reservations for lunch and missed it.
Main altar is flanked by statues of Moses holding the law
Detail from directly above the altar
Janet got a short video of the central nave that helps to give some perspective to the space. This baroque cathedral is the 3rd church to cover the site. The first was a smaller church built by Boniface with the help of other monks. 

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An elaborate pulpit
One of the stations of the cross on the walls surrounding the nave - Jesus is sentenced to death as Pilate washes his hands
Large dome above the main altar - all of the interior of the church is bright white. Many cathedrals and churches are dark, but this one is brightly lit. There were no stained glass windows.
A life-sized statue of Christ. We have seen few depictions of the resurrected powerful Christ. He is wearing a red robe in this statue which the scriptures say He will wear at His Second Coming.
We could not tell if these wall ornamentations were wood carvings are done with plaster which was more common during the baroque period.
We couldn't determine the symbolism in the artwork

The two on the bottom appear to be shrinking from the woman holding the cross

One of many side altars

The cathedral benefactor's tombstone

St. Boniface

Altar over St. Boniface's tomb. The panel on the front depicts him crawling out of a coffin in the resurrection.

Detail of the central panel which depicts Boniface's murder in Holland at the hands of the residents of Dockum.
St. Michael's on a rise just west of the cathedral
St. Michael was built between 812 and 822 as a chapel for the monks' cemetery of the Benedictine monastery that was there. The monastery existed for a thousand years until the Napoleonic wars. In 1802, the powers of church and state were separated and the Prince Bishops were removed from power. For the first time in a millenium, Germany had secular governments that did not also control the church. The tall tower is the oldest part of the church and is round. The church is still in use and a Catholic mass is celebrated there every morning at 7 am.
Eastern wall of St. Michael's. The large portion on the near end is gothic and was added much later.

Memorial to the victims of the 2 World Wars on the outside wall of the church. Note how the skulls include those of children. 

The group resting briefly during our walking tour. Janet, Elder Mumm, Elder Kay, Elder Markle, Sister Markle.

Warm enough for a sweater or jacket, but brilliant sunshine. Who could ask for better? Sister Lovell, Sister Kay, Janet, Elder Mumm, Elder Kay (back to the camera listening to our tour guide Nicole), Sister Markle
Gate of St. Paul. The street was temporarily blocked off for a walk/run event (6.5 km), so we could stand in the middle of the cobblestone street to take a picture.
Entering the garden of the castle
Facing west toward the Orangerie (now used by a hotel for large events)

Groups at the base of the steps playing bocce (in German Boccia). Of course, the game comes with much wine drinking, serious faces, trash talk, and high fives. 

The crest of the prince who built the Orangerie is in the triangle just under the roof. A successor built the large statue for himself to make it clear that he had superseded the builder. 

Gardens were open only to members of court, but now they are a public park that is 1.5 km long
Our friend Sister Mumm
The gardens are typical baroque and completely symmetrical. Castle is in the background to the east.

Upper level walkways near the palace

We were wearing jackets, but the warm sunshine started to make them uncomfortable


Gardens are typical baroque and highly symmetrical

The flowers were beautiful

The interior historical rooms were impressive, especially the Princes Hall, but we did not take any pictures. We got two pictures of some porcelain figures that were on display. 


At the end of the day, the Kays headed home after ice cream. The remaining couples stopped at the cathedral museum, but the men remained outside on a bench watching people and behaving themselves.
Elder Markle, Elder Kirk, Elder Mumm

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