Friday, 15 April 2011

My trip to Germany a few weeks ago... Part 2

Freiburg im Breisgau

Located in the extreme south-west of the country Baden-Wuerttemberg,
lying at the foot of the Black Forest, very close to Switzerland and France.
Historically, the city has acted as the hub of the Breisgau region
on the western edge of the Black Forest in the Upper Rhine Plain.
One of the famous old German university towns, and archiepiscopal seat,
Freiburg was incorporated in the early 12th century and developed
into a major commercial, intellectual, and its medieval minster,
as well as for its high standard of living and advanced environmental practices.

The city is situated in the heart of a major wine-region and serves 
as primary tourist entry point to the scenic beauty of the Black Forest.
According to meteorological statistics, the city is the sunniest and warmest in Germany.

Freiburg was founded by Konrad and Duke Bertold III of Zaehringen in 1120 
as a free market town, hence its name, which translates to "free town" -
the word "frei" meaning "free" and Burg, like the modern English word borough,
was used in those days for an incorporated city or town,
usually one with some degree of autonomy.

This town was strategically located at a junction of trade routes between 
the Mediterranean Sea and the North Sea areas, and the Rhine and Danube rivers.
In the year 1200, Freiburg's population numbered around 6,000 people.
At about this time, under the rule of Bertold V, the last duke of Zaehringen,
the city began construction of its Freiburg Muenster cathedral
on the site of an older parish church.

In 1218, when Bertold V died, the counts of Urach assumed the title of Freiburg's count.
The city council did not trust the new nobles and wrote down their established rights in document.
At the end of the 13th century there was a feud between the citizens' freedom,
after which the Freiburgers used catapults to destroy the count's castle 
atop Schlossberg, a hill that overlooks the city center.
The furious count called on his brother-in-law 
the Bishop of Strasbourg, Konradius von Lichtenberg, for help.
The bishop answered by marching with his army to Freiburg.

According to an old Freiburg legend, a butcher named Hauri stabbed 
the Bishop of Strasbourg to death on July 29, 1299.
It was a Pyrrhic victory, since henceforth the citizens of Freiburg had to pay
an annual expiation of 300 marks in silver to the count of Freiburg until 1368.
In 1366 the counts of Freiburg made another failed attempt to occupy the city
during a night raid.  Eventually the citizens were fed up with their lords,
and in 1368 Freiburg purchased its independence from them.
The city turned itself over to the protection of the Habsburgs,
who allowed the city to retain a large measure of freedom.
Most of the nobles of the city died in the battle of Sempach (1386).
The patrician family Schnewlin took control of the city until the guildsmen revolted.
The guilds became more powerful than the patricians by 1389.

Old town hall

The silver mines in Mount Schauinsland provided an important source of capital for Freiburg.
This silver made Freiburg one of the richest cities in Europe, 
and in 1327 Freiburg minted its own coin, the Rappenpfennig.
In 1377 the cities of Freiburg, Basel, Colmar, and Breisach entered into an alliance
known as the Genossenschaft des Rappenpfennigs (Rappenpfennig Collective).
This alliance facilitated commerce between the cities and lasted until the end of the 16th century.

There were 8,000-9,000 people living in Freiburg between the 13th and 14th centuries,
and 30 churches and monasteries.  At the end of the 14th century, the veins of silver were dwindling and by 1460, only around 6,000 people still lived within Freiburg's city walls.
A university city by then, Freiburg evolved from its focus on mining 
to become a cultural center for the arts and sciences.  It was also a commercial center.
The end of the Middle Ages and the dawn of the Renaissance was a time
of both advances and tragedy for Freiburg.

In 1498, Emperor Maximilian I held Reichstag in Freiburg.

In 1520, the city ratified a set of legal reforms, 
wildly considered the most progressive of the time.
The aim was to find a balance between city traditions and old Roman Law.
The reformers were well received, especially the sections dealing with civil process law,
punishment and the city's constitution.

The Historisches Kaufhaus, or Historical Merchants Hall,
is a Late Gothic building on the south side of Freiburg's Muensterplatz.
Constructed between 1520 and 1530, 
it was once the center of the financial life of the region.
Its facade is decorated with statues and the coat of arms of four Habsburg emperors.

In 1520, Freiburg decided not to take part in the Reformation
and became an important center for Catholicism on the Upper Rhine.
In 1536, a strong and persistent belief in witchcraft led to the city's first witch-hunt.
The need to find a scapegoat for calamities such as the Black Plague,
which claimed 2,000 area residents in 1564, led to an escalation in witch-hunting that reached
 its peak in 1599.  A plaque on the old city wall marks the spot where burnings were carried out.





Das Freiburger Muenster Unserer Lieben Frau  -  The Minster

Duke Berthold V von Zaehringen, died in 1218

The last duke of Zaehringen had started the building around 1200 in romanesque style,
the construction continued in 1230 in Gothic style.
The minster was partly built on the foundation of an original church
that had been there from the beginning of Freiburg in 1120.

Duke Berthold V

Architecture of the Minster:
The Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt once said 
that the church's 116-meter tower will forever remain the most beautiful spire on earth.
It is the only Gothic church tower in Germany that was completed in the Middle Ages (1330),
and miraculously, has lasted until the present, surviving the bombing raids of November 1944,
which destroyed all of the houses on the west and north side of the market.

Waterspouts and other statuary

Pulpit by Joerg Kempf, sculptor, in 1501

There are two important altars inside the cathedral:
the high altar of Hans Baldung,
and another altar of Hans Holbein the Younger in a side chapel

Looking up into the belfry

The nave windows were donated by the guilds,
and the symbols of the guilds are featured on them.
The deep red color in some of the windows is not the result of a dye,
but instead the result of a suspension of solid gold nanoparticles.


The 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries were turbulent times for Freiburg,
Through battles in the Thirty Years' War  (at the beginning of this war there were 
10,000-14,000 citizens in Freiburg; by its end only 2,000) and other conflicts,
the city belonged at various times to the Austrians, the French, the Swedish, the Spanish,
   and various members of the German Confederacy.  In the period between 1648 and 1805,
 it was the administrative headquarters of Further Austria, the Habsburg territories
 in the southwest of Germany, when the city was not under French occupation.
In 1805, the city, together with the Breisgau and Ortenau areas, became part of Baden.


In 1827 the Minster became the seat of the Catholic archbishop of Freiburg and thus a cathedral.

The Residence of the Archbishop of  Freiburg

Entrance to the Residence

The University
Albert-Ludwig-Universitaet Freiburg
The university was founded in 1457 by the Habsburg dynasty as the second university
in Austrian-Habsburg territory after the University of Vienna.

Portrait of Archduke Albert VI of Austria, founder of the University

Originally Albrechts University, the university started with four faculties
(theology, philosophy, medicine and law). Its establishment belongs to the
 second wave of German university foundings in the late Middle Ages,
 like the Eberhard Karls University of Tuebingen and the University of Basel.
  Established by papal privilege (papal bull) the University in Freiburg actually was
  - like all or most universities in the Middle Ages - a corporation of the church body and
  therefore belonged to the Roman Catholic Church and its hierarchy. The bishop of Basel
 consequently was its provost or chancellor, the bishop of Constance was its patron
 while the real founder of the university was the sovereign Archduke Albert VI of Austria,
 being the brother of Frederick III, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.
At its founding, the university was named after Albert VI.  He provided the university with land
and endowments as well as its own jurisdiction.  Also he declared Albrechts University as the
"county university" for his territory until it was handed over to the Austrian House of Habsburg in 1490.

Seal of the University of Freiburg
Latin: Alma Mater Alberto-Ludoviciana

This University is one of Europe's most prestigious universities and is amongst its top research
and teaching institutions.  With its long-standing reputation of excellence, the university looks
both to the past, to maintain its historic academic and cultural heritage, and to the future, 
developing new methods and opportunities to meet the needs of a changing world.




At the centre of the old city is the Muensterplatz or Cathedral Square, Freiburgs largest square.
A farmer's market takes place here every day except Sundays.

 But the best one is on Saturday!

Old fashioned and traditional...

with organic products from the region

flowers and plants...first week in March

Wine from the nearby vineyards and  "Kaiserstuhl" region (my favorite for white wine!)


special jam...

the local variety of beetroot...

wonderful "festkochend" 'firm-boiling' potatos! Best for potato salad and fried potatos.
Cannot get them  in the Périgord

All kinds of different and interesting special mustard's...

here a cherry mustard..


Aperitif's....from honey with walnuts - peaches - passion fruit - figs......

And it was just the right time for the first Baerlauch - freshly picked from the forest,

home made by...

this lovely man.   Delicious!

"Home made" Eau de Vie's.. 

smoked Black Forest ham

Fresh Sauerkraut !!!   Bought four bags to take them home with me (in the train!)

 Parsley roots! a must for a good bouillon!
Another vegetable we don't have in France

No market visit without a stop at Meier's sausage stand, the best one!

* _ *


And as a Digestif:
  'Schwarzwaelder Kirschwaesserle odr a Mirabellagoischt'



'Window shopping'

 Early spring greetings in March

with Fritillaria and Lilly of the Valley



first Easter decoration....already!

a bit of decorative country 'schnick-schnack'


** _**

 no comment.....!

Truffles from the best Confiserie in the whole region

I'm in a chocolate heaven!




The city has an unusual system of gutters (called Baechle - rivulet)
that run throughout its centre.

These Baechle, once used to provide water to fight fires and feed livestock,
are constantly flowing with water diverted from the river Dreisam
and were never used for sewage, as such usage could lead to harsh penalties,
even in the Middle Ages.  During the summer, the running water provides natural cooling of the air,
and offers a pleasant, gurgling sound.
It is said that if you fall or step accidentally into a Baechle,
you will marry a Freiburger, or 'Bobbele'.


Because of its scenic beauty, relatively warm and sunny climate
and easy access to the Black Forest, Freiburg is a hub for regional tourism.

 There is no doubt - Freiburg with its long history and special flair is loveable! 


I have planned that this post - Part 2 of my recent trip to Germany in March -
 includes more of my 'finds'.  In the course of preparing the post I became so involved
  with the history of this region, things that I knew and was fascinated by as a child,   
but forgotten, now re-discovered. And while writing I got lost in the past of centuries ago!
So, the very end of my trip requires yet another post which will follow.

Images 1,2,13,19,20,21,22,23,24,27,28,29 Internet
Last image: LANDLUST, Maerz/April 2011


  1. Ein K-Post!

    Kirchen - Kunst - Kaiserstuhl - Kartoffeln - Kurioses - Köstliches - Karin - Kulinarisches - Kirschsenf - ...

    Ein lieber Gruß!

  2. Wow, what a fantastic post. I love European history - I'm taking a medieval history course right now and love all this detail. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

    What a fun market to visit. Makes me hungry.

  3. Liebe Franka,
    what a brilliant comment! Ein K-Post! Unfortunately most of my readers don't understand the German language, what a pity! So much to the point with a beautiful sense of humour!

    Have to meet you one day!
    Herzlichen Gruss - karin

  4. beautiful, so glad I recently found your blog...I am thoroughly enjoying it

  5. You are killing me!!!!!!!!!The pictures of the town and history were beautiful but when you got to the market...... I didn't know they did a rose type wine in Germany, and the vegetables and the eau de vie......OMG! This was especially meaningful to me because in the small town where I live, it was settled by Germans and Polish immigrants......There is a town not far away called Frelsburg..????I will go back and read this again a couple of times....... Well Done Karin!!!!!!!Maryanne xo

  6. Karin....Wow, thanks so much for taking us on this journey with you. Wonderful!!!

  7. It is a pleasure for me to pass on some interesting history.
    Thank you all for your comments!

    *Maryanne, love your "Parisian cows", my favorite is the "Zen" one!
    Will make research about 'Frelsburg' - who knows...

  8. Karin, your photos from the markets certainly give a new dimension to the generalized ideas about German food which has rarely made my mouth water like this entry did.
    Thanks for sharing and now I am ready to go have something to eat!

  9. Freiburg ist immer schön. (Freiburg is always beautiful.)