The Drachenfels in Königswinter

The Drachenfels in Königswinter – 

more than just tourist kitsch

I grew up in Königswinter, a town of approx. 40,000 inhabitants next to Bonn.  It stretches from the Rhine in the west across the Siebengebirge to the east. The Siebengebirge (“Seven Mountains”) consists of more than 40 hills of volcanic origin.  Of the seven hills, which gave the region its name, the highest is the Ölberg with 460m, the smallest is the Drachenfels with 321m.  How it got its name is disputed with various suggestions floating around.

The Drachenfels seen from the Rhine

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The ‘Brückenmännchen’ in Bonn

The Brückenmännchen in Bonn –

a cheeky little sculpture on a bridge

When we visited Bonn earlier this year, we went for a walk along the Rhine, as you do.  To our surprise, we spotted on the Kennedy Bridge the sculpture of a man rather cheekily sticking his bum out at us, the Brückenmännchen, which translates as “little bridge man”. It turns out that this little sculpture plays an important part of the history of the bridge.

The Brückenmännchen in Bonn

The Brückemnmännchen in Bonn – also a welcome resting place for pigeons

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Bonn’s bridges across the Rhine

Bonn’s bridges across the Rhine –

Connecting Bonn to its eastern neighbours

Bonn is situated on the western side of the river Rhine.  Understandably, a way to cross the river has been important for a long time, both for commercial and military reasons.  On the opposite, the eastern, side of the river is Beuel. Beuel has since 1969 been a suburb of Bonn, incorporating all the area on the right-hand side of the Rhine, which consisted of various parishes.  One example is Oberkassel, where the couple from the Ice Age was found.

There is a legend that Julius Caesar had the first bridge built in 55 BC when fighting the Gauls.  However, archaeologists say that’s all that it is:  a legend. Continue reading

The Liberei in Braunschweig

The Liberei in Braunschweig –

a medieval library ahead of its time

The Liberei in Braunschweig

Braunschweig in approx. 1550 (Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

The Liberei in Braunschweig is a unique medieval building:  1. It was the first free-standing library building in Europe north of the Alps.  2. It was the southern-most example of Backsteingotik. 3. It was one of the first public libraries in Germany.  4. It was a famous centre for research.  Quite remarkable for a building of just 5 by 5 metres. Continue reading

The Gewandhaus in Braunschweig

Braunschweig Now and Then:

The Gewandhaus in

Braunschweig’s Altstadt

The Gewandhaus in Braunschweig

Eastern facade of the Gewandhaus

One of the present-day tourist attractions of Braunschweig is the Altstadtmarkt with its historic buildings:  the Altstadtrathaus (town hall), St Martin’s Church, the Altstadtbrunnen (fountain) and the Gewandhaus.  Altstadt (old town) refers to one of the five medieval parts of Braunschweig, the others being the Neustadt (new town), Hagen, Altewiek and Sack.  Each had its own market, church and town hall.  The two most important parts, Altstadt and Hagen, also had their own Gewandhaus (cloth merchants’ hall).  Only the one in the Altstadt has survived, so this is the one which is referred to as the Gewandhaus today. Continue reading

Eulenspiegel Fountain, Braunschweig

The Eulenspiegel Fountain in Braunschweig

Braunschweig, in Lower Saxony, Germany, is a city rich in history.  This became clear to me, when I recently had the opportunity to revisit the city where I was born.  We moved away when I was seven, long before its history held much interest to me.  Seeing it again, brought back to me the stories my grandfather used to tell me.  He was a wonderful story-teller.  His range covered stories by others (sometimes embellished to make them more attractive for his little granddaughter), and above all stories he made up on the spot, linking them to the buildings or monuments around us.

I would like to share with you a monument to one of the heroes of the stories he told me:  Till Eulenspiegel. It’s not very often that you get a chance to touch one of the heroes of the stories of your childhood.  However, this was what I able to do when I saw the Eulenspiegel for the first time, at the age of four or five.  Needless to say, I went back to say “hello” to Till now.

Eulenspiegel Fountain Braunschweig

Eulenspiegel Fountain in Braunschweig

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St Martin in Bonn

St Martin in Bonn –

Ernemann Sander tells the story of the saint in reliefs at the Bonn Minster 

This time of the year brings a lot of memories of my childhood.  11 November is St Martin’s Day and that’s a very important date in the area of the Rhineland where I grew up with lots of traditions associated with this day.  The story of St Martin is told in four bronze reliefs by Ernemann Sander, set into a wall next to Bonn Minster. Continue reading