Schweinfurt town wall dating back to the 13th century.

 


Schweinfurt & Würzburg 2009

17th July 09 - 21st July 09

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Fetched at the same time 09h30, Robert took Lily and I on a Schweinfurt town walkabout Sunday morning. In the first half of 13th century Schweinfurt was expanded to a real city with city wall, towers and city gates. Having suffered the level of destruction that it did in World War II, the town does seem, well, to my eye at least, to take on an appearance of having been reconstructed i.e. there doesn't seem to be as much of the "old world" remaining as one might generally expect to find. Yet, though Schweinfurt  appears modest by these standards, it does have its charm and has, I believe, undergone a huge investment and transformation in recent years. It is, like so many German towns, neat and tidy. It has struck me that in recent years Germany has experienced fewer reports of xenophobia than was the case shortly after reunification (where most incidents reportedly occurred in the former East Germany). If anything, the United Kingdom now has a bigger problem what with rising tensions in the Middle East. We checked out the guest house on the Main canal, a really smart modern construction beautifully kitted out. It appears popular for foreign visitors cycling in earnest up and down the Main. Perhaps next time I might stay there, though I was informed by Jörg and Heike that I would not need to stay in a YH should I be visiting again.
 

Schweinfurt old quarter residences.

 
 
 

Schweinfurt public library at Erbacher Hof - myself, Lily and Robert on a town walk.

 
 

Guest house on the River Main (where I was meant to have lodged); The Schrotturm [tower] has characterised the face of the southern Old Town for nearly four hundred years.

 

The inhabitants of Schweinfurt repeatedly had to defend independence and often pay dearly for it. As the city became a bone of contention between the prince-bishop in Würzburg and earls of Henneberg in the middle of the 13th century, heavy devastation resulted, which is known as the “First City Ruination”.After the reconstruction, King Rudolf von Habsburg confirmed Schweinfurt’s status of “imperial freedom” in 1282. In the decades to come, all of the attempts from Würzburg and the Hennebergers to annexe the city into their own sphere of control also faltered. As the only Free Imperial City in Lower Franconia, Schweinfurt repeatedly retained new rights and preserved its sovereignty. The city converted to Protestantism in the middle of the 16th century. This was a daring step ¯ indeed, the inhabitants were surrounded by the Catholic territories of the Würzburg prince-bishop. In 1554, a terrible war waged by Margrave Albrecht Alcibiades von Brandenburg-Kulmbach against the supreme religious foundations in Bamberg and Würzburg as well as the imperial city Nuremberg led to the complete devastation of the uninvolved City of Schweinfurt (“Second City Ruination”). Only the Napoleonic reorganisation of Europe in 1814 led to the loss of Schweinfurt’s independence. The city has belonged to Bavaria since that time. The fact that Schweinfurt did not suffer the fate of many other former free imperial cities is particularly due to the Schweinfurt inventors in the 19th century and the self-assured citizenry. They paved the way for Schweinfurt to rapidly become an important industrial city. A new chapter in the history of the city was opened.

 

Lucifer adorns a doorway.

 
Erika, Robert , Lily and I then took a drive to Steigerwald, location of a clinic where physicians practices Chinese medicine. It was an open Day at the clinic and so Lily, with her interest in Chinese martial art of Tai Chi, was keen to visit. I was dispatched for a walk in the vast forest surrounding the clinic. It is at times like this when I gather my thoughts and contemplate the loss of loved ones. The the ground was somewhat muddy and slippery ("schmutzig" and "schlüpfrig" have now subsequently been added to my German vocabulary) from earlier rains, yet, despite the fact that I didn't quite have the necessary footwear, I still managed a 2.5 km walk in the direction of Gerolzhofen, meeting up with them again at 17h30. On the way back, we stopped at an inn called Forrellenhof for a snack. Lily and I were taken by the rather tame group of Bambi's who had gathered at the fence, as we arrived in the car park. Perhaps they might not have been had they been aware that the might later end up on the menu. I must confess I had never seen one, so my first impression was how much they resembled the Disney cartoon character. Lily was amused by the fact that all she managed to capture on her small digital camera was a lone Bambi licking her lens, as she poked it through the fence! The waitress serving our order seemed to have got it al wrong, after forgetting my order on at least two occasions, but was most apologetic. Back at E&R, Lily watched a bit of the Lisa Gerrard DVD I had brought her as a gift. I then walked back to the YH just a short distance away.
 

Views looking back towards Steigerwald; View from Steigerwald clinic.

 

View from Steigerwald on my forest walk.

 

Statue located during the course of my Steigerwald forest walk reflects the tranquillity of the area.

 

Bambi's at Forrellenhof - tomorrow's lunch, perhaps?

 
Monday we drove to Kreuzberg. As the day progressed, it transpired that this was to be one of a religious theme. E&R are staunch Catholics and so, after visiting their church in Schweinfurt itself, we were presented with the religious symbolism associated with the mountain. The Kreuzberg is one of the Rhön Mountains in southern Germany. At an altitude of about 928 metres located near the town of Bischofsheim an der Rhön in the Bavarian part of the Rhön, it is also referred to as the "sacred mountain of the Franconians".  Kreuzberg Monastery (Kloster Kreuzberg), which is situated just below the summit of the mountain, is one of the main attractions as well. The three crosses on the summit can be seen for miles. There are frequent pilgrimages to the monastery church. The monastery is also famous for its beer, which was brewed on site by the monks until about 1985. They still serve beer, but it now comes from a brewery in Bischofsheim. We decided to have lunch after a short walk and I have to say that the delicious Eisbein I had ordered more than satisfied the appetite I had built up. Quite unbelievably, four meals came to less than 20. The mist had cleared and the sun was out. Erika was a proud as a peacock that the weather she had "ordered" had finally come to fruition and we were constantly reminded of that point.
 

View from Kreuzberg; Three crosses on the hillside.

 

Kreuzberg Forest.

 

 

Kreuzberg Monastery.

 
Just a bit further on, we stopped at a small village of Leitershausen to view the unusual combination of old and new in the design of the local church. Lily, though not religious by nature, was particularly keen on the design and the beautiful stained-glass windows. Back in Schweinfurt after first having indulged in tea & cake at E&R's, Lily and Erika disappeared to do some shopping, as Lily had only a couple of days left before her return to Cape Town. The entire family had been invited for dinner on the veranda at E&R's, including Erika's sister and her husband, parents of Stefan, I believe. Having spent most of the weekend speaking German, which I did quite willingly and was appreciated by all, my brain was at this stage beginning to saturate. Ian called Lily from Cape Town and was a bit weepy as a result. The conversation over dinner was one of great mirth, not least my limited knowledge of Bavarian dialect, which amounted to a single word, the Bavarian for a squirrel's tail.
 

The stunning interior of the Catholic church at Leitershausen; Stained-glass window at Erika & Roberts's church in Schweinfurt.

 

Beautiful stained-glass windows at the Catholic church at Leitershausen in Bavaria.

 

The Catholic church at Leitershausen in Bavaria; No expense is spared regarding tombstones for loved ones; Even houses adjacent to the church are adorned with religious symbols.

 

Lily with her wonderful family:-  Anna (left);  Robert, Erika, Marc, Anna, Jörg & Heike;  Anna & Jörg (right).

 
Chilled out after breakfast Tuesday morning, I was fetched by Heike around 09h30 and dropped off at Schweinfurt railway station, after a final farewell at E&R. The journey back proved relatively uneventful, arriving at Frankfurt (Hahn) with 3 hours to spare, before my departure back to the UK at 18h10. It had been a wonderful visit to a part of Germany I love. I had had such fun on this trip and the kindness and hospitality was consistent with what I have always experienced on my trips there.
 

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