Freiburg is seductive: a well-preserved gem of German medieval and renaissance architecture with cycling embedded into its daily life. We stayed and spent most of our 4 days in the historic downtown core. However we did take 3 cycling side trips for a few hours each except our trip to Basel, Switzerland.
Hotel Am Rasthaus by the historic Town Hall square, was our home base. A great selection especially when our room faced into a back-end courtyard, away from thronging pedestrian crowds during the day. Hotel guests could store bikes in the building’s underground clean locked room which surely must have near-medieval roots. After all, the ramps into the underground garage, were cobblestone.
Nearly every morning, we dropped by its wonderful marketplatz or the outdoor farmers’ market. I highlighted some of the local seasonal food in an earlier blog post on spargel (white asparagus). Like many European famers’ markets
in some countries, the customer is not allowed to touch fresh produce or pick their own from produce piles.
Freshly baked goods at the Freiburg marketplatz were reasonably priced, as well as local wines sold by farmers. The local cheeses were wonderfully deep in flavour and ripeness at half the prices of Vancouver. One butcher had a cart of handmade, small dried sausage varieties which did not require refrigeration. Jack was on the hunt for a properly baked linzertorte slice – a cake-like tart with cherry filling which the whole cake requires several weeks to age. A traditional linzertorte made with correct ingredients, will keep well in an air-tight container up to a month while deepening in flavour.
Across from the Marketplatz was the House of Baden Wines which featured some wine tastings for a fee and various local Swartzwalder (Black Forest) region wines for purchase.
The Freiburg Munster (cathedral) looms over the marketplatz which for Freiburg, its marketplatz is referred as Munsterplatz. The front doors of the cathedral are graced with arches of many small, light-coloured statuary. Overall effect was a lighter, though still densely packed front entrance design, compared to other cathedral entrances we saw later, where we saw only occasional statues with multiple colours with some gold leaf.
One of the saintly figurines was a woman with a carpenter’s square hanging over her elbow. I still have not yet determined what she symbolizes.
Inside the soaring cathedral, were well-restored, stained glass works which more photos will be featured in separate blog on the liturgical stained glass art across several churches that I visited during this 2010 European trip.
Fortunately retrofit of the St. Augustine Museum was completed earlier this spring, for me to see its marvelous medieval and renaissance paintings, sculptures and other primarily German artworks. A noticeable number of liturgical art pieces used the dominant colour theme of scarlet red and green along with gold highlights. Since I was previously unfamiliar with German medieval and renaissance artwork, it was time well-spent while learning and admiring.
A cyclist is at home in Freiburg. There are separated bike paths, as well as cycling slowly along cobblestone car-free pedestrian squares and some downtown streets. Freiburg has kept its downtown system of open water drainage channels that were cut centuries ago into the
cobblestone surfaces for sewage drainage and industrial uses. Locals are accustomed to walking over or cycling around them without worrying much. Sometimes children would pull happily along their toy boats in these garbage-free, water channels.
There were many cyclists biking for work, school and errands in streetwear. Spandex attired cyclists were rare and highly visible.
One afternoon we cycled eastward on separated bike paths for a 25 kms. round trip. We quickly left Freiburg and buzzed into the verdant countryside, dotted with small villages of red tile roof homes, vineyards, farms and parkland. That weekday sunny evening, there were many other cyclists and pedestrians wandering about along the route.
During our spontaneous late afternoon ride, we came upon a medieval church in one of these surrounding picturesque villages with its own garden and name
labels for its flowers and other plant types. Nearby, a white horse with its rider, clopped slowly up the winding village road past a half-timbered guest haus (small hotel) and pub. A peaceful scene that was to be repeated in similar instances later over the next few days during our cycling trips in the Black Forest region.
Baden-Wuttenburg Information Portal. Gives more information on Munsterplatz and other historic architectural features in Freiburg.