Medieval Towns of Bavaria

Europe is filled with beautiful medieval architecture. We sought out old towns in Germany’s Bavaria, driving west to east visiting Tuebingen (Tübingen), Nördlingen, and Dinkelsbuehl.

Tuebingen is archetypal Germany with hilly cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses, a castle, interesting shops and one of Europe’s oldest universities and …it is not a tourist trap. Narrow alleys wind their way up to its castle.

 

Town seen from a high hill

Town seen from a high hill

We stayed in an old hotel adjacent to the castle – charming and good food (but the 3 flights of stairs, along with the steep hills, did in my knee for the rest of the trip!).
Schloss Hohentübingen was built in 1050 and converted to a stronghold in the earliest 1500’s.

Tom at castle

Tom at castle

The castle has been used by the university since 1816 and in more recent years they have taken over it’s restoration. There is an archeology museum on site with prehistoric treasures from caves in the Swabian Jura (a nearby low mountain range). One of the pieces that fascinated us were  carvings of animals in mammoth ivory.

 Wild horse carved from ivory circa 35,000 years ago

Wild horse carved from ivory circa 35,000 years ago

 

In the middle of Germany’s Romantic Road is the attractive ancient town of  Nördlingen.  The town was built in the Ries Basin, a large impact crater formed millions of years ago by a meteorite colliding with earth.  (For more and better photos go to this site: images nordlinger)

 

The city built in an impact crater

The city built in an impact crater (www.feierabend.de)

It was an important trading center back in Roman times. The fortified walls were built between the 15th and 16th centuries and still surround the city.  You can walk on the covered walls and see the impressive towers and gates up close as you enjoy the views of Nördlingen.

 This is one of the main gates into the city which joins the covered walls.

This is one of the main gates into the city which joins the covered walls.

 

While visiting a church we happened upon a small choir practicing. Their voices and harmonies were moving, the acoustics magnificent, so we ended up sitting in a pew for half an hour just listening.

A choir practice at Nordlingen cathedral.

A Nordlingen choir practice.

 

Out-of-kilter buildings like this one are not uncommon due to settling and repairs over, in some cases, centuries.

These out of kilter buildings are not uncommon due to settling and repairs over, in some cases, centuries.

An “out of kilter” building.

              

Almost two decades ago we visited Rothenburg ob der Tauber – considered Germany’s best-preserved walled city – but we didn’t go back because its fame has brought too many crowds and overpriced souvenirs. Dinkelsbühl, on Bavaria ‘s Wörnitz River is just as colorful and authentic, but has so far maintained its small-town character.

 

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Moat outside Dinkelsbühl walls

During the Holy Roman Empire Dinkelsbühl sat at the crossroads of two major medieval trading routes — a north-south route running from the North Sea to Italy, and an east-west route starting at the Rhine and extending to Prague. Because of its strategic importance it was fortified with walls in the Middle Ages a dozen towers.

One of the main Towers with an entrance gate.

One of the main Towers with an entrance gate.

 

 

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Dinkelsbühl.

 

 

 As we strolled around the village we came upon a wedding just exiting the church. Here is a photo of the lovely bride and the party’s… organ grinder.  These are the moments that make traveling memorable.

 

Bride & groom_0242

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These towns are remarkable in that they have survived wars and the modern age. Isn’t it interesting to be in a place where you can imagine a different life – or a living there hundreds of years ago?

 

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6 thoughts on “Medieval Towns of Bavaria

  1. Bavaria was one of my very favorite places when I visited Europe. Besides all the tourist attractions, it was fascinating to see men in hats and long-sleeved shirts sitting around drinking beer from steins at 9:00 in the morning.

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    • Dinkelsbühl was one of the most gorgeous towns on the Romantic Road.

      At one point, we discovered an odd onion-shaped church by the road. When we went in, it was still decorated from a wedding the day before, apparently.

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    • Do you mean an onion shaped dome on the church tower? I noticed they are fairly common, but you don’t see them if you head west or (I think) north. I wonder if they are a Russian influence.

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