Freiburg, Germany: Cycling Among Medieval and Renaissance Restoration

Statues on facade of Historisches Kaufhaus (Historic Department Store), facing the Old Town Square or Munsterplatz (Cathedral Square). Freiburg, Germany Jun. 2010. Photo by J. Chong. Building constructed 1520 – 1532. Was for municipal market administration.

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.

Freiburg’s manhole cover design was embedded all over the historic downtown core area. June 2010. Photo by J. Chong

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

Munsterplatz (Cathedral Square), site of daily outdoor market. Freiburg, Germany June 2010. Photo by J. Chong. Square is ringed by medieval buildings and a large cathedral.

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.

Saint-like female figure with a carpenter’s square. One of many small statuary gracing front entrance doors, Freiburg Cathedral, Germany. June 2010. Photo by J. Chong. Note: Fine wire mesh screen protects the carvings.

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.

German medieval art treasures, St. Augustine Museum. Freiburg, Germany June 2010. Photo by J. Chong.

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

Rows of parked bikes were common sight in Freiburg. This row is by the city’s centuries-old water channels that were cut into cobblestone streets June 2010. Photo by J. Chong. Space is provided for water channel, bike parking and sometimes, streetcar lines.

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.

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 Elsewhere, in some areas away from history, art, cobblestones and preserved greenways, Freiburg does have modern, faceless buildings but not huge swaths of many eye-weary kilometers often found in many North American small  towns and cities, particularily in areas on urban fringes.

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

Bike in front of iron metal screen. Freiburg, Germany June 2010. Photo by J. Chong

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.

Interesting Reading:
Baden-Wuttenburg Information Portal.  Gives more information on Munsterplatz and other historic architectural features in Freiburg.

Freiburg Tourism. The Sights.

19 Comments Add yours

  1. Angelika says:

    Excellent, very proffesional photography. Enjoyed reading your comments too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      I appreciate feedback from someone in Germany like yourself! We enjoyed ourselves alot in southern Germany. It helps immensely that he can speak and read abit of German to get more specific directions whenever we cycled through the villages.


  2. Great Photos! what an excellent adventure you guys had!


  3. Chatty says:

    Love the blog, the pictures are magnificient, and make one feel they’re there riding on those very streets…


    1. Jean says:

      There will be another post later this week..with different sets of pics, different theme. Glad you all enjoyed it.


  4. jaco223 says:

    Jean ….when you cycle you really cycle ….hehe 🙂 Glad you had a wonderful time ….your description of the linzertorte makes me hungry …The photographs are stunning ….love the slide show very well done Jean ….keep up the great work, wonderful blog …and the cycling. I really should consider cycling myself as the doctor told me to do some exercise ….

    Continued Success !!


    1. Jean says:

      Thanks for your feedback and dropping by. Whatever you do, choose an exercise that you love to do often and regularily. That is what cycling is me.


  5. Angelika says:

    Great slide show! I I love the clarity of the fotos. Do you mind sharing how you do the slide show?


  6. Jean says:

    I will email you Angelika. It is a function in the WordPress software.


  7. Mandy says:

    Jean the photographs and narration are excellent -thanks so much for sharing.


  8. Jean says:

    So glad we went and left just before the heat wave rolled through Europe that has caused mechanical breakdowns in HVAC systems, etc. It’s great to venture out of the big cities in Germany to see these parts of the country also. Glad you enjoyed the pics, Mandy.


  9. Frances says:

    I really enjoyed your photographs and your writing about your trip. You really do give me a sense of being there. I took a bike trip in Denmark when I was much too young to appreciate it and on top of that I lost my camera so I had nothing but one roll of film to show for six weeks.
    How much did you plan in advance in terms of which churches you would visit?


    1. Jean says:

      Though I did abit of reading in advance, I still didn’t “plan” on which churches/cathedrals until I arrived in those cities. At least the major cathedrals that you see featured in the blog post for stained glass art in the cities of Freiburg, Strasbourg (France), St. Vitus (Prague) and in Malmo are major tourist attractions. Some of them have lineups but go early. I actually had no clue how magnificent Freiburg Cathedral was until 2 days after I arrived in Freiburg. I didn’t realize how beautiful it was inside since on the exterior it’s under restoration in certain parts. Probably an ongoing project for them.

      You need to realize I’m also a museum buff also, especially if there’s great art or if it features centuries-long history of the host city.


  10. Great post! Very informative and the pictures are great!


  11. HapaMama says:

    Lovely photos and stories. Happy Holidays!


  12. Paccana says:

    Oh! I want to go to Freiburg, and especially to the Cathedral. So lovely, these photos.


  13. Nádja&Jos says:

    Yet another great post, Jean! I don’t know if you had a chance to visit Cologne (Koln) in Germany, but there stands an impressive, Gothic architecture, cathedral (Kolner Dom).


  14. This village looks charming Jean. On our last trip to Germany we hoped to spend more time in Bavaria but ran out of time. We plan on a return trip that highlights southern Germany, and after reading this post, we’ll put Freiburg on the visit list. Very nice post. ~James


    1. Jean says:

      Well, that area of Germany is not Bavaria…this region is south of Bavaria. His area is heavily influenced by French cuisine over the centuries because the German-French border moved over the centuries depending on the wars/conquests. Hence, the southern German pastries are more delicate, use puff pastry which there is a German term and they use wine sauces. This is the region where there are more delicate range of multi-layered cake tortes. Not just Black Forest cake which must have cherry liquor in the cake itself for taste. Just next door in France, when we cycled only 30 km. from Karlsruhle, Germany (where he was born), we ate the French version of sauerkraut, etc. and some heavily Germany-fluenced dishes.It’s reflected in their smoked hams, kugelholf (which is also a German round bundt cake), etc. It is in the Alsace-Loraine region of France.

      He actually considers Bavarian (northern German) cuisine, heavier / rougher and more farmers’ style. The stuff that we are familiar with Oktoberfest images.

      Make sure you go to the farmers’ markets –wonderful stuff. Freiburg also has a regional wine store featuring the German wines of that area.

      I also agree the architecture is wonderful since like you, I did photo shoot quite a number of historic buildings.


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