Quedlinburg

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The initial impression of Quedlinburg at the train station is not overwhelming. But the image above is not at all representative of the town.

Quedlinburg is in the latter stages of a massive restoration begun in the 1980s. There are 1000 year old churches and the most original timber frame houses of any city or town in Europe. The centerpiece of town is the Schlossberg, the site of a women’s abbey founded in the 900s. It is dominated by the 900 year old church of St. Servatii.

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The church is open for tours and includes a crypt and a church treasure that was lost for decades after WWII and discovered in Texas in the possession of the family of an American soldier. The building itself is a treasure. It has detailed carvings on the capitals and on a frieze that runs underneath the upper windows. The arcade is an unusual configuration with a pair of columns between rectangular piers.

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There is a tower on the western edge of town, the Steinkierker Turm, that provides a nice overlook. When we first went up to it, we thought it was locked as there is a massive steel turnstyle like you sometimes find at sporting venues. However, it is unlocked by dropping a 1 euro coin in a slot.

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The church on the left is the Marktkirche St. Benedickt. As with many churches it was built in stages. The photo below show that the center of the nave and the center of the chancel are misaligned by a couple feet. This happens too often for me to believe it is merely the result of mis-measurement as some maintain. It took some clever stonework to make the two sections meet in any event.

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This statue of King David was once one of the columns supporting the organ loft.

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The Rathaus is the main feature of the market square. Much of the building dates to the 14th century. The tower on the left was added in the 15th. Further renovation took place in the 17th and 19th centuries.

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There are about 1400 timber frame houses in Quedlinburg, some of which date to the 1300s. Most have been beautifully restored. The ones below are in one of several plazas that dot the town.

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Many houses have inscription on the beam just above the ground floor. The two below say:

  • In 1631 Gert Muller and his wife, Dorothea, had this house built.
  • 1577, Merten Hevener, In God’s might, I have built.

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We met a man whose friend bought one of these houses in the 1980s for 40 East German Marks, just a couple Euro in today’s funds. It’s worth over a million now. There are still some houses available for restoration like the one below. You might not get quite the same deal though.

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More Historical Sites in Berlin

The plaza below was created by clearing buildings damaged in WWII. The Marienkirche, on the left, dates to the 12th century, though it has been severely modified over the years.The pink pipes on the right are part of a system for removing groundwater that leaks into excavations. Berlin after all was built on a marsh.

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The Marienkirche is still used as a church. Its rather plain interior reflects the Protestant tradition. The Evangelische church, the publicly supported merger of Lutheran and Calvinist churches, has services on Sunday mornings and the Anglican church uses it in the evenings.

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Nearby the Nikolaivierteil is a pseudo-medieval area reconstructed under the DDR. It was once the center of the city. The Nikolaikirche for which the quarter is named was closed in 1939 for renovation, but reduced to a shell during the war. It has been restored, but is now in use as a city museum and for concerts. Many of the artifacts in the museum relate to its former life as a church.

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The arches in the vaults are painted differently in various parts of the church. The nave is green and red. Two chapels on either side are blue and orange (we were told those are the colors of Mary). The chancel is gray and red.

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Most reminders of the national socialists in Berlin have been deliberately obliterated. However, the Olympic Stadium, built for the 1936 Olympics is still in use as a sports and concert venue. A very fine roof has been added. The exterior facade is built of limestone rather than concrete.

 

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Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace in Berlin. It dates to the early 1700s and is named after the first queen of Prussia.

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There are extensive gardens and a tame forest. In the back of the property is the Belvedere. A sign at the building indicated it was built as a private retreat for one of the kings. I guess you might call it his man-cave.

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Berlin Remembers

Berlin is a vibrant, youthful city. Images from 1945 show a city nearly flattened. Even historic landmarks were mere shells. Then the communist period split the city in two. Since then the city has been completely rebuilt, often in ultramodern fashion. A few clear reminders of the unfortunate past are preserved as encouragement to never let those things happen again.

Cranes all over the city signify economic development. The crowded cafes along the river are filled with people from all over the world. This is the heart of Germany, but English, the lingua franca, can be heard in many different accents.

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The Berliner Dom, severely damaged in the war,  has been elaborately restored.

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In the crypt are entombed many of the Prussian Kings, Queens, and nobility from the 1700s until the first World War.

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Entry to the Cathedral includes the opportunity to climb the steep stairs to the rotunda for panoramic views of the city. This image includes the matching towers of of the Deutscher Dom and Französische Dom at the Gendarmenmarkt.

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The tower in this view, which is visible from most of the city, is the Fernsehenturm, or TV tower, built by the communists. I like the confrontation between it and the statue of Moses holding the tables of the Law.

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The Brandenburg gate is an iconic symbol of Berlin and Germany. The Berlin wall once stood right across the center of this view, blocking the gate. Now it is a pedestrian way and often the scenes of public gatherings such as holiday celebrations, large screen viewing of football matches and, often, demonstrations.

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Speaking of the wall, very little of it remains. There is a memorial along Bernauer Strasse with displays, audio commentary and a portion of the fortification, for that is what it was. One of the audio clips from an East German General explained how the wall was built to ensure the security of East Berlin, a transparent lie. It was actually built to keep people from escaping to the West. An interesting excavation exhibit explains how many tunnels were dug in this area for just that purpose. This is what an East Berliner might have seen if they were brave enough to look over the inner wall into the no-mans land.

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In 1989 to 1990 it took months to dismantle the entire wall. This section was appropriated by a number of artists who began painting scenes depicting the joy of their new found freedoms. There is also a lot of ordinary graffiti. At present there is an attempt to clean up and preserve some of the original work.

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This image, signed by Birgit K. shows a car of East German manufacture (Trabant) breaking through the wall. I saw a photo of this painting in an art market taken when it was defaced with scrawled names and other things. They did a nice job of cleaning it.

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Here’s a photo of a real Trabant in non-standard paint. One can rent them and drive around town.

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The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial church was built in memory of the king who died in 1888 (not the WWI Wilhelm). The church was destroyed in WWII, leaving only the foyer and damaged tower. Rather than tear it down, the tower was preserved and a new church was built. The tower is nicknamed der Hohle Zahn, in English, The Hollow Tooth.

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Here is a view of the interior of the new building.

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One last symbol of a revived Berlin is the Reichstag, the home of the German parliament. This was left a hollow shell after the war. The glass rotunda, which is just visible in this image was designed by an Englishman, a sign of European reconciliation.

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