flag Freiburg im Breisgau flag

Fr             In 1999, as we drove through Switzerland and Southern Germany on our honeymoon, we stopped for three days in Freiburg im Breisgau. We had been in Switzerland before this, spending the night in Wegnen and visiting the Jungfraujoch. On Sunday, July 18, we drove up from Interlaken, through Basel and into Germany. We continued north on the A5 Autobahn to Freiburg, which is located in southwest Germany near the Black Forest and the Rhine valley. I had been here once before in 1989 for an afternoon. I thought it was a great city to visit. So now, Debbie and I would spend three days there.

            The climate of the area is very mild and has turned Freiburg into a wine producing area with their famous vineyards on the slopes of Mount Kaiserstuhl. Freiburg is also a tourist center along with being a major trading center for timber. The city has a population of about 200,000 and is one of the most popular university towns in Germany (it's student population is around 24,000).

             Freiburg is famous as a cultural center and presents a number of fascinating museums. Predominately Roman Catholic, the city has been an archiepiscopal seat since 1821 and has a splendid Gothic cathedral (begun in the 13th century - pictured at right) with a high open spire.

            Among the other attractions are the unique brooks running through the streets of the Old Town or Altstadt in open channels next to the sidewalks. These little streams running through gullies, called "Bächle", are one of the historic old town’s trademarks. They are thought to have been originally designed to supply the city with water and for sewage. Today, the streams create a pleasant atmosphere and in the summer entice people of all ages to have a bit of fun. There is a legend that those who accidentally step into one of the little streams will end up marrying a Freiburger.

History of Freiburg im Breisgau

Freiburg coat of arms         Freiburg was founded by the Dukes of Zähringen in 1120. After the House of Zähringen built a castle on Schloßberg in 1091, the small settlement on the site of today’s southern old town and Oberlinden was chartered as a free market town by Konrad and Duke Bertold III in 1120. The layout of streets and squares of the rapidly prospering metropolis is still impressively reflected in today's cityscape. The market rights, the favourable location and the silver mines in the Black Forest soon led Freiburg to grow into a prosperous and influential city. In 1200, Bertold V initiated the construction of a new, large parish church, Freiburg Cathedral. The citizens of Freiburg later took on the financial responsibility for building the Cathedral, which was completed in 1513, making it the only German cathedral to be completed in the Gothic style.

        Bertold V, dies without children in 1218, and becomes
the last of the Dukes of Zähringen (he was buried in the Münster.) He was succeeded by his nephew, Egino, Count of Urach, who assumed the title of Count of Freiburg. The 150-year rule of the Counts of Freiburg was mainly characterized by wars with other rulers and disputes with the town’s inhabitants, which is why, in 1368, the wealthy citizens bought their independence from Count Eugino III for the outrageous sum of 15,000 silver marks and submitted to the rule of the House of Habsburg. So, in 1368 Freiburg, with the rest of the Breisgau, came under the control of the Habsburgs. After an initial decline, the city grew and prospered and became Reichsstadt from 1415 to 1427, the capital of Austria's Vorderösterreich until the beginning of the 19th century. In 1424, all Jews were expelled from the city. Not until 1809 were Jews who participated in trade allowed back in Freiburg.

Archduke Albert founded the university in 1457, which was taken over by the Jesuits in 1620. In 1520, Freiburg decided against joining the Reformation and became an important center for Catholicism on the Upper Rhine. In 1536, a strong and persistent belief in witchcraft lead to the city's first witchhunt. The need to find a reason for tragedies such as the Black Plague, which claimed 2,000 area residents in 1564, led to an escalation in witch hunting until it reached its peak in 1599.

           In the Thirty Years War (1618–48) the Bavarians and Austrians were defeated there (1644) by the French under Turenne and Louis II de Condé. The city had to survive many sieges during the war
, which reduced the population to around 2,000 and largely destroyed the suburbs. This wave of destruction and change culminated in the taking of Freiburg by the French troops in 1677. On the orders of Louis XIV, Vauban completed the fortifications which the Austrians had begun, had the city walls razed to the ground and built a fortress with eight bastions around the old town. He had three forts built above one another on Schloßberg, on the site where the old castle had been. The French held Freiburg from 1677 to 1697.  After 1697, Freiburg went from French to Austrian control and back again several times, until it finally came under Austrian rule again in 1745 during the War of the Austrian Succession. Before leaving, the French razed all the fortifications to the ground. During the French Revolution, many French emigrants flee to Freiburg in 1789. Later, French revolutionary troops occupy Freiburg but are then repelled by Archduke Karl's army.

              In 1805, Napoleon incorporated Freiburg in the newly established grand Duchy of Baden, which was involved in the wars of liberation of 1813-14. In subsequent years, the city evolved into an economic and political center on the Eastern bank of the Upper Rhine. In 1821, a papal bull declares that Freiburg shall succeed Konstanz as the seat of the Archbishop, and in 1845 the first train ran from the newly opened Freiburg train station to Offenburg.

Freiburg postcard            During the German Revolution of 1848-49, Freiburg saw fights between revolutionaries and government troops. The liberal politicians Carl von Rotteck and Carl Theodor Welcker taught at Freiburg University. In the second half of the 19th century, Freiburg experienced strong growth and the emergence of completely new suburbs, Wiehre and Stühlinger. In 1899, Freiburg University was the first German university to accept a female student. Later in 1910 the municipal theater was inaugurated. The postcard at right is of Freiburg around 1910. The scene is outside of our hotel [I have a photo of the same place below].

             After World War I on November 9, 1918, people on the Karlsplatz cry for revolution. Soldiers' councils are established. The Grand Duke abdicates his thrown and Baden becomes a republic. In 1920 and 1921 respectively, two Freiburgers, Konstantin Fehrenbach and Joseph Wirth were appointed Chancellor of the Weimar Republic.

Freiburg in 1933             In 1933, the Nazi's took power in Germany. Here are a group of Nazis in front of Freiburg's Neues Rathaus (New City Hall) [I have a photo of the same area today]. Many anti-Jewish laws were passed in Germany. During Kristallnacht in November of 1938, Freiburg’s synagogue was burnt down. Around 33 of it's Jewish citizens would later die in Nazi concentration camps. During the Second World War, Freiburg did not escape the aerial bombings inflicted on many German cities. One especially bad raid occurred on November 27, 1944, which destroyed large parts of the city. Luckily, the Cathedral largely escaping destruction despite almost the entire Münsterplatz being destroyed. On April 21, 1945, French tanks rolled into Freiburg. On October 28th, General Charles de Gaulle led the victory parade on the Kaiser-Joseph-Straße. Freiburg was occupied by French troops, who established a government and administration for Baden in 1946. Since the merger with Württemberg in 1952, Freiburg has been the seat of the district’s administrative offices.

             Today, Freiburg im Breisgau has around 200,000 inhabitants, among them 21,000 students at the university, polytechnical colleges and the teaching college. It is the 4th largest city in Baden-Württemberg behind Stuttgart, Mannheim and Karlsruhe. Many research institutions also benefit from the proximity of the university. Freiburg’s prosperity is mainly based on the many small- and medium-sized companies in the service industry, medical technology, pharmaceuticals, solar energy, bio-technology and electronics. Freiburg is called the "Solar City" because the use of the sun as a resource is much more popular here in Freiburg than in any other region of Germany.

SC Freiburg logo             Like the rest of Germany, Football (Soccer) is big in Freiburg.  The local professional team is SC Freiburg
Falkens (Falcons), who wear red and black, play in the 25,000 seat Badenova-Stadion. The club traces its origins to a pair of clubs founded in 1904. While only a small club, SCF (Sport Club Freiburg) became known for the fight and team spirit in their play. This led them to the Bundesliga's second division in 1978 where they played for a decade-and-a-half before making the breakthrough to the Bundesliga's top division in 1993 (Germany's highest level league competition which determines the national champions). Not a highly successful club, their greatest success was in 1994-95 when they finished in third place, just three points behind champions Borussia Dortmund along with reaching the UEFA Cup (football competition for European club teams - the second most important championship after the UEFA Champions League) that year and again in 2001. While they have been relegated a couple of times since first making the Bundesliga, they have always managed to win immediate promotion back to the top league. Their manager (head coach), Volker Finke, is the longest-serving manager in the history of professional football in Germany, managing Freiburg since 1991.

Wölfe Freiburg             Freiburg also has had a professional ice hockey team since the 1960's. Professional hockey in Germany is not as well organized as it is in many other countries. In 1986, after the former team went bankrupt, the EHC Freiburg was formed. Today they are known as the Wölfe Freiburg (Freiburg Wolves) who play in the 5,800 seat Franz-Siegel-Halle at Ensiheimer Straße 1. German professional hockey is divided into two levels in which Freiburg plays in the second called the Eishockeyspielbetriebs gesellschaft or ESBG. That year, Wölfe Freiburg took first place and defeated SC Riessersee in the finals. The following year, because they were the champions they were allowed to move up to the the top division, Germany's elite professional hockey league, the Deutsche Eishockey Liga or DEL (established in 1995) in 2003, but came in last place that year and fell back down to the ESBG. In 2006, they didn't make the playoffs.


Münster Unserer Lieben Frau            When we arrived in Freiburg, we checked into our hotel, the historic  "Gasthaus Zum Roten Bären" on Bertoldstraße a few house from the Schwabentor in the medieval old city (altstadt). After unpacking, we left our hotel and started our walk around the city. We walked a couple of blocks from our hotel to the center of the altstadt. The great thing about Freiburg is that most of the center of the Altstadt is a pedestrian only zone (called a Fußgängerzone). So you don't have to deal with cars zipping around. This just adds to the charm of this city.

            In the center is the city's largest square, the Münsterplatz, home of a farmers' market (they are there every day except Sundays). Freiburg’s colorful market has taken place at the Münsterplatz (Cathedral Square) for more than 200 years with fresh regional fruit, vegetables and flowers. Up until 1785, the square was surrounded by a wall and in the Middle Ages it was also used as a cemetery. In 1498, a municipal granary was built on the north side of the square. The Kornhaus, also used as an abattoir, was reconstructed in 1970. A new synagogue was opened behind the City Library in 1987 to replace the one on the Werthmannplatz that was burned down by the Nazis in 1938.

            In the center of the Münsterplatz is a magnificent Gothic Cathedral. Its unique 381-foot-high tower ranks among the masterworks of Gothic architecture, the centerpiece of Freiburg's silhouette. Freiburg is a predominantly Catholic city and the Münster is the center of the Archdiocese of Freiburg.

            The Freiburg Cathedral, officially called "Münster Unserer Lieben Frau" (Cathedral of our Beloved Lady), but shortened to Münster, was modeled after the Minster in Basel, Switzerland. It was originally built as a Romanesque church back in 1200 where it housed the tombs of the Freiburg CathedralDukes of Zähringen. The choir, the transept crossing, transom, the nave and the two flanking "Cockerel Towers" flanking the transept were completed before the death of the last Zähringer duke, Bertold V in 1218. Only the transept crossing and the two towers remain of the original church. In 1220, the plans were revised and construction continued in the Modern Gothic style using red sandstone. This style was becoming popular all around Europe. The western tower was completed in 1330.  It is likely that the new building of the Late Gothic chancel was designed by the cathedral master workman Johannes von Gmünd. The cornerstone was laid in 1354. The chancel was not fully finished until 1513. During the long construction time, octagonal belfreythe remainder of the old parish church was used for mass, and then gradually torn down as sections of the Cathedral reached completion.

            The Cathedral achieved its present form at the beginning of the 16th century. However, it has been almost constantly under construction or renovation. Because of high levels of air pollution, the ongoing efforts to maintain the Cathedral are a race against time. As you can see in the photo at left, they are doing maintenance work on the spire. Today, the cathedral is the center of the Catholic Archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau (since 1821) and the Metropolitan Church of the province of the Upper-Rhine area, currently run by Archbishop Robert Zollitsch (since 2003). It is easily the most photographed building in Freiburg.

               During the Allied air bombings of 1944, which destroyed much of Freiburg, the cathedral miraculously was undamaged despite most of the Münsterplatz around it being destroyed. I found a picture on the internet of the cathedral surrounded by the post-war ruins of Freiburg and have included it below.

               The most lavish of the Cathedral's four side portals is the Late Roman portal on the south side, across from the Kaufhaus, completed before the death of Bertold V, Duke of Zähringen in 1218. It belongs to the oldest section of the Cathedral. The vaults from the Renaissance vestibule intersect the portal. The tympanum displays Saint Nikolaus clothed as a bishop, sitting on a folding stool. He is honored as the patron saint of merchants and the Cathedral's first patron saint (a position later given to St. Maria, the Beloved Lady). The southern aisle portal's tympanum features the Lamb of God with a chalice and banner of the cross.

             The west tower (Turmbesteigung) and spire stands out the most. It has been called, "most beautiful tower in Christianity." It's one of the few church towers in Germany to be wholly completed in the Middle Ages. On top of the rather plain square base is a beautiful pierced octagonal belfry topped by a delicate open spire of stone. You can climb a narrow set of winding stairs to go up into the tower, so Debbie and I did. Back in 1999, it cost about DM 2.50, however, today, I am told it's now 2€. It's open everyday, from 9:30 am to 5 pm Freiburg Cathedral(on Sunday, for obvious reasons, it opens later at 1 pm). You climb a set of stairs to the star-shapped gallery three quarters of the way up the tower next to the large open windows. As you climb up, you get a closer look at the 16 Minster bells including the over 5-ton "Hosanna." Made in 1258, it is one of Germany's oldest functioning bells. At the base of the spire, it is open. There are some wonderful photographic opportunities of the city, the romantic landscape of the Höllental valley just outside the city and the Black Forest off in the distance from here. I took this picture (above left), which I love, from beneath the spire looking straight up to the top. I had to lie down to get the angles to be perfectly centered. As you can see, the stone work is open to the outside. From there, you go up a narrow spiral 20-step staircase to a walkway outside around the base of the perforated spire above the open windows (I made the trip while Debbie watched from below).

             The picture at right was taken from the spire looking east toward the hills outside of Freiburg. You can see the roof of the transept crossing and the two towers.

St. Mary and Jesus statue in Freiburg Cathedral             Inside, the church is beautiful. It is fairly well lit so you will be able to see everything. If you want to take pictures, be careful. It is a religious place and some people don't approve of photographs inside. I took a couple before an old German women chased me outside.

            Upon entering by the south door, you'll be in the transept facing an early 16th-century sculpture of the adoration of the Christ Child by the Magi. If you turn left into the nave, you'll see at the far end of the aisle, by the entrance to the tower, a 13th-century statue of the Virgin flanked by two adoring angels.

             This statue (at left) of Mary and Jesus is in the Nave on the southern side of the cathedral just inside the south entrance.

            The high altar has an altarpiece built between 1512 and 1516 by Hans Baldung Grien. Resting against one of the Renaissance pillars along the aisle is a carved 16th-century pulpit, with stairs winding around the curve of the column. The figures below the stairs are likenesses of the townspeople, including the sculptor.

            Of particular interest are the luminous 13th-century stained-glass windows. The oldest stained glass, dating from the 13th century, is in the small round windows of the south transept. Masterpieces include a 16th-century triptych by Hans Baldung Grien and paintings by Holbein the Younger and Lucas Cranach the Elder.


Freiburg Kaufhaus tower            After walking around the cathedral, we walked outside and looked around the farmers market in the Münsterplatz. Just south of the cathedral is the historical Kaufhaus (Merchant's Hall). This building stands out among the others. Maybe it's the red color or the towers on each end that give it a distinctive Medieval look. Buildings like this were very important during the Middle Ages, when life in European towns were run by guilds, and this one is a symbol of the importance of trade in medieval Freiburg. At this time, trade was growing rapidly in Freiburg and the duties paid by the merchants who passed through the city was an ever increasing source of income. Additionally, the merchant house provided a place to store goods.

            Built by Lienhart Müller in 1520, and completed twelve years later, it's facade and watch towers are decorated with medieval coats of arms (it looks much better here with colorful flags then the Nazi swastika flag the flew from the balcony in the photo above). The watchtowers are topped with colorful tiles and rise to points. There are a number of gargoyle like water spouts above the windows. Sixt von Staufen designed the coat of Freiburg Kaufhausarms and decorative figures above the balcony on the main facade in honor of the House of Habsburg. Beneath the arcaded gallery, there are also numerous statues that show how Freiburg was once linked to the Habsburgs. There are statues of Maximilian I, his son Philipp of Burgundy and his sons; Emperor Charles V and Archduke Ferdinand I. They represent the family that reigned over Freiburg for more than 400 years.

          Somehow it survived World War II almost undamaged. Legend has it that on November 27, 1944, the night of the heavy Allied bombing raid on Freiburg, the landlord of the Hummels Weinstube next door saved the Kaufhaus in an unusual manner. Karl Oberkirch extinguished the flying sparks of a fire by dousing them with his wine. The Gasthaus Oberkirch (hotel and restaurant) is still standing today [that's the pink building to the right of the Kaufhaus in the above picture]. After the fall of the Nazi government, the Baden federal state parliament met here until 1951. You can see the Hotel Ganter where we had dinner on our second night in Freiburg [it's the gray building next to the Gasthaus Oberkirch]

          The building is still used today for official city functions. The Kaiser Room, (named after Kaiser Wilhelm I of Prussia in the second half of the 19th century) is used mostly for classical music concerts and receptions. After having dinner in the Münsterplatz on the other side of the cathedral, we came over here for a circus show that was being put on in front of the Kaufhaus.

          Near the Kaufhaus is the "Alte Hauptwache" (old main police station) near the east side Fischbrunnen of Freiburgof the square. It was built in 1733 by J. M. Vanderlew using plans from the Count Hermann of Hohenzollern. The Alte Wache served as the main guard post for the Austrian watch garrison, which was stationed in Freiburg at the time. It's next to some of the houses for the cathedral canons. The "Alte Wache" has been recently renovated and now is the home of the "Haus des Badischen Weins" (House of Baden Wine). 

           On the north side of the cathedral is The "Fischbrunnen" (Fish Fountain). It is an exact replica of a 14th century original. It was unveiled in 1970 as part of the city's anniversary celebrations. The original fountain was created by Hans von Basel in 1483. The statue has knights with the city coats of arms and Habsburgs figures. The figure of Bertram von Berg was added to the original in 1616. This is the third spot for this fountain. The original was first in the middle of Kaiser-Joseph-Straße (the main shopping area), Salz Straße and Bertold Straße, which was the main crossroad of the Medieval city and where the fish market once stood. In 1807, it was moved further down Kaiser Josef Strasse next to Cathedral Lane so a statue could be placed in it's place. It did not survive the bombings of 1944 (neither did the statue that replaced it). The replica of the Fischbrunnen, built in 1970, was placed here in the Münsterplatz.

Kornhaus            Behind the Fischbrunnen on the northern corner of the Münsterplatz is the The Kornhaus (granary) which was built in 1498 as a place to hold dances and to store and sell grains. It should have been finished by the time King Maximilian I held his Reichstag (Imperial Diet) in Freiburg that same year, but it was not completed in time. The building was used as a slaughter house from 1547 until 1785. From 1770 -1785, the Kornhaus served as the city's first permanent theater and was known as the Komödienhaus (Comedy House). Most of the pieces performed here were by ever changing traveling theater troops. On November 27, 1944, during the heavy bombing raid, the Kornhaus was destroyed down to the ground walls. In 1971, it was rebuilt in its original form under the direction of the architect Herbert Dörr.

        Today, the house is an arcade with shops, a cafe, restaurants and office space. The main point of interest is the attractive stair-step shaped front gable with its attic windows. Formerly, items stored in the Kornhaus were heaved out of the storage rooms through these windows. Just to the right of the Kornhaus is the Hotel Rappen where Debbie and I had dinner on our first night in Freiburg.


          We left the Münsterplatz and walked a block to Kaiser-Joseph-Straße, Freiburg’s main avenue, or as it's sometimes referred to by the locals as "KaJo." This is a large avenue with electric streetcars that runs north-south through the old part of the city and was the central marketplace in the Middle Ages with wooden buildings known as "Lauben" along the sides of the street. The "Große Gaß" (great lane) Breuningeris bounded to the South by the Martinstor. There once was another tower, the Christoffeltor, on the North end of Kaiser-Joseph-Straße, but it was torn down in 1704. Many of the old 15th century wooden half timbered houses here were destroyed in the aerial bombings in 1944, so you see many new modern concrete and steel ones that replaced them, including a number of department stores. Kaiser-Joseph-Straße, along with Rathausgasse, Bertoldstraße and Salzstraße, are the main shopping areas of Freiburg. The building seen here at right is the Breuninger's Department store on Kaiser-Joseph-Straße. The back of the store faces the Münsterplatz and the Fischbrunnen. I guess at the time it was an architectural masterpiece, but I am not very impressed with it's sterile appearance.

Basler Hof            On the next block, north Breuninger's Department store, is the "Basler Hof" (Basler Court). It was built in 1496 for Maximilian’s Chancellor Konrad Stürtzel and also has links with the Reformation in Basle. Konrad Stürtzel, court chancellor to Maximilian I and one of the first seven professors of the newly founded University of Freiburg, constructed the original building between 1494 and 1496 by rebuilding several older houses. Since that time, the "Basler Hof" has been one of the city's most important secular buildings. From 1587-1677, it was the residence in exile of the Chapter of Basle Cathedral. They redecorated it to include the patron saints of Basle on its facade. The Austrian rulers used it as their local headquarters between 1698 and 1802. It has been, since 1952, the home to the Regierungspräsidium (government headquarters). Between 1587 and 1677, it was the residence in exile of the Cathedral Chapter of Basel. 

            The interior of the "Basler Hof" was gutted by fire during the bombing raid of November 27, 1944. It was re-built in 1951. Only the outside of the main building was re-built to look the way it did and it doesn't have the original facade paintings by Fritz Geiges (1891). The spiral stairs and the offices of the Regierungspräsident (government president) are the only interior reminders of the building's splendor in Stürtzel's day.

Bertoldsbrunnen          From here, Debbie and I walked south to the center of the city, the intersection of Kaiser-Joseph-Straße, Bertoldstraße and Salzstraße. Freiburg's electric tram lines come together here. This part of the city was completely leveled by the 1944 bombings, so all of the buildings are modern. The "Bertoldsbrunnen" or Bertold's Fountain (photo at right) stands in the middle of the intersection. The fountain honors Duke Bertold III, the Duke of Zähringen, founder and Lord of Freiburg until 1218. The towering modernistic bronze figure of the knight and his horse mounted on a pedestal of reddish limestone from the Italian city of Trient. This statue was erected in 1965 by Nikolaus Röslmeir using contributions from the various Zähringer cities. The new statue replaced a 1807 statue of Duke Bertold III, which was also destroyed in 1944. I wasn't very impressed with the new statue, but I guess it's just not my style.

        The Bertoldsbrunnen is located on the site of Freiburg's old fish market. Until the beginning of the 17th century, it was the home of the "Fischbrunnen", which is now found in the Münsterplatz (cathedral square) in front of the Münstergasse.

Martinstor          Continuing south down lower Kaiser-Joseph-Straße, we came to the Martinstor (or St. Martin's Gate). The original name of this gate was "Norsinger Tor". The Martinstor belongs to Freiburg's first city fortifications built at the beginning of the 13th century. It is the oldest watch tower in the city's medieval fortifications. The first documentary mention of the tower was in 1238 as "Porta Sancta Martini." It is older than the other remaining fortification tower gate, the Schwabentor (originally there were four towers). The Martinstor was joined on the land side to the city wall. The defense passage was six meters above the ground. A moat 40 feet wide and 16 feet deep, with a bridge over it, was located outside the tower.

Martinstor             The picture at left is from the inside looking out (north side). There used to be a famous restaurant in the building next to the tower. It closed however some time ago and has since been replaced, as you can see, by a McDonald's.

<>            Originally, the Martinstor was much smaller and had a stocky appearance. It was, along with the Schwabentor, almost torn down at the end of the 19th century. Following many false starts, the tower's renovation finally began in the summer of 1901 when the tower was enlarged considerably by architect Carl Schäfer. Luckily, with everything around it almost totally destroyed in the air raids in 1944, the Martinstor was spared from bomb damage. The original land side wall painting (a German imperial eagle over Freiburg's coat of arms) was replaced in 1951 with a Baroque sandstone slab depicting the Roman double eagle.

Frank getting a drink of water          The picture at right is from outside the Altstadt looking in (south side). After walking here, there is an outdoor fountain pouring water into a stone trough.

          A tablet was placed on the north side of the tower (above right) in 1988 in memory of the numerous victims of the Freiburg witch hunts. Among the victims named are three Freiburg women who were convicted in 1599 of being witches an  beheaded.

          In the pictures, you can see the tracks for the trams that go along Kaiser-Joseph-Straße. In some places it's gets a bit tight and you have to watch yourself. After passing through the Martinstor, I stopped at the water fountain to have a sip of cool water (photo at right). Frank is lostDebbie thought this was completely unsanitary and disgusting.

           Further down the Kaiser-Joseph-Straße is a bridge over the Dreisam River. There used to be statues of four German emperors on the bridge. However, they were removed in 1944 and melted down. They haven't been replaced as of yet. The bridge is modern looking today. There is a dirt path that runs along the river with numerous benches you can sit down on and relax.

            The area along the Kaiser-Joseph-Straße between the Martinstor and the Dreisam River is full of old buildings that were untouched during the bombings, so you can get a good sense of what pre-war Freiburg looked like.

              As you can see at right, it was difficult sometimes reading the street signs to find our way around Freiburg. However, we managed.

                After going through the Martinstor you can turn left and walk along another pleasant place, the Fischerau. It goes along the small canal the runs through Freiburg between the two old city gates. This is where many fisherman lived in the old days.

          Debbie and I walked back along Kaiser-Joseph-Straße to the center of town. From here we walked west along Bertoldstrasse were we came to the Werderring. It's a large avenue that separates the Altstadt from the more modern parts of Freiburg.

University of Freiburg          This is the location of the Albert-Ludwig University of Freiburg. The university was founded by Archduke Albrecht IV of Austria in 1457, the second university on Habsburg territory after Vienna. As was typical of universities in the late Middle Ages, the university originally consisted of four faculties: Theology, Law, Medicine and Philosophy. Most students were from southwestern Germany, Alsace, Switzerland and Austria. When Freiburg fell to the Grand Duchy of Baden in 1805, the fate of the University of Freiburg was uncertain. So, when Grand Duke Ludwig of Baden arranged an endowment in 1820, the university celebrated him as its second founder. To this day the Albert-Ludwig University of Freiburg honors both Albert (the Latin spelling of Albrecht) and Ludwig in its name. During the Reformation, the local Catholic princes put the Jesuits in charge of many departments of the university.

          The university remained small through most of it's history. In the latter part of the 19th century, the university grew in enrollment. By World War I, there were 3,000 students. Shortly after the Nazi's came to power in 1933, all Jewish faculty members, along with the professors who made it known that they opposed the Nazi regime, were purged from the university. During World War II, many of its buildings suffered severe damage from bombing raids. Due to its proximity to the French border, the university was temporarily shut down during the war. The university reopened shortly after the end of the war and in 1957, they celebrated their 500th anniversary. Today, they have around 19,000 students.

Freiburg Synagoge plaque        We came to the "Platz der Alten Synagoge" (Old Synagogue Square) which is one of the more important squares on the outskirts of the historic altstadt. This was the site of the Freiburg Synagogue that was built in 1870 next to the university. When the Nazi's came to power in 1933, they started instituting laws against the Jewish population of Freiburg, then numbering 1,138. At the University of Freiburg, all 21 Jewish professors and lecturers were dismissed by 1935. Among them was Hans Adolf Krebs, who moved to England and won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1953. The Synagogue was burned by Nazi SA and SS members on Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass) on November 9, 1938 as firefighters stood by and watched. The ruins were blown up the next day. Today, the square is a grassy park. with a 4-foot diameter circular plaque on the grounds marking the spot with a brief description in German [Here is a website on the old Synagogue. It is in German with an English translation, and has a number of old pictures - the photo at right is from this website, I took a picture of it, but can't find it].

            Kristallnacht was a government organized destruction of Jewish property throughout Germany. Many stores, along with the Synagogue, were damaged or destroyed while about 100 Freiburg Jews were arrested and sent to Dachau Concentration camp. Over half of the Freiburg Jews emigrated to safety before World War II, while over 300 perished in the camps. During the war a Catholic organization headed by Gertrud Luckner worked to save Jewish lives. She was recognized by Yad Vashem as one of the Righteous among the Nations.

Colombi Palace          We walked north along Werderring and came to the the Colombi Palace or Colombischlößle, next to Colombipark. It's on the site of the former "Saint Louis" bastion of the fortifications planned by Vauban after the French had taken the city in 1677, which was torn down in 1745. Colombi Palace is a villa that was built for the the Countess Zea Bermudez y Colombi and her daughters in 1861. It was built by Georg Jakob Schneider in the English Gothic and Tudor styles. The Colombi Mansion became the permanent property of the city of Freiburg in 1899. Since then, it has served as the home of various institutions. From 1947-1952, President Leo Wohleb ran the Office of the State of Baden from the mansion. In 1983, the Colombi Mansion became the site for the Museum für Ur- und Frühgeschichte (Museum for Pre- and Early history). It has an extensive archaeological collection with exhibits from prehistoric times through the Roman era to the Middle Ages. A small vineyard to the South of the villa which looks out onto the Eisenbahnstraße is all that remains within the city of the "Glacis-Reben" (Glacis grapevines) which were planted on the ruins after the fortress that was blown up in 1745.

          We didn't get a chance to go in the museum, but instead just walked around the park. Next time we are in Freiburg, it is on our list of things to do and see.


street signs          Debbie and I walked back towards the Altstadt. We strolled down the Turmstrasse, past the "Carnival Fools’ Guildhall" (Zunfthaus der Narren) with its Carnival Museum and past Freiburg’s oldest Town Hall, the Gerichtslaube. Built before 1303, the Reichstag (German Parliament) was held here in 1498. Because the building was later used in 1547 as the Town Court Hall, it was named "Gerichtslaube". The aerial bombings of 1944 left the building in ruins but in 1979 it was rebuilt. From there, we arrived at the Rathausplatz or the town hall square.

        The Rathausplatz is a charming area surrounded by old houses with balconies full of flowers. In the center of the square, there are chestnut trees (left side of picture on right) surrounding the statue of statueBerthold Schwarz (here on the left), a Franciscan monk from Freiburg who, according to legend, was an alchemist and the first European to discover gunpowder, somewhere between 1313 and 1353, which led directly to the creation of the first firearms. The statue is the centerpiece of a fountain in the square that dates back to 1853 and commemorates Berthold Schwarz.

          On the west side of the square is the Neues Rathaus or New City Hall. It was completed in 1901 by converting a pair of Renaissance buildings that had originally served as the staff and administration buildings of the university and later as a hospital. RathausplatzA carillon plays daily at noon from the small green tower on the new center wing.

          Next to the Neues Rathaus is the Altes Rathaus or Old Town Hall which dates from 1559 (it's the reddish building to the right in the photo above) and was also obtained by transforming several older houses into one major building. The façade of the building was originally painted with images of Medieval knights and other designs. During the bombings in 1944, the Altes Rathaus burnt completely to the ground. A reconstruction was completed ten years later in 1954, but didn't include the paintings.

          The unique thing about Freiburg is that the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) is older then the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall). That's because the Neues Rathaus was used by the University of Freiburg for many years before becoming the New City Hall.

Haus zum Walfisch          The north and east sides of the square are occupied by the former Franciscan Monastery and its Haus zum Walfischchurch built around 1300. The interior, destroyed in 1944, has been restored to its original form.

            On the other side of the monastery church, on Franziskanergasse, is another historical building called the Haus zum Walfisch (House of the Whale - I have no idea why they call it that) with its splendid late Gothic doorway (photo at left) and it's red exterior. It was built in 1515 for Jakob Villinger who was Chancellor of the Exchequer to Emperor Maximilian I. For two years it was the home of the scholar Erasmus of Rotterdam who had to leave Basle following the Reformation in 1529.

            After changes were made in the 18th and 19th century, the Haus zum Walfisch was thoroughly rebuilt in 1909-11. It also needed extensive reconstructed in 1946 to repair major war damage.

          From there, we walked back east past Kaiser-Joseph-Straße and headed back to the Münsterplatz for lunch (sausages and a beer).Konviktstraße

            East of the Münsterplatz is Konviktstraße. This is a award winning example of old town restoration. Without a doubt this is one of the more charming streets in Freiburg. There are new houses, some modern in style, some using old facades, which combine to form a charming look of an old town. This store in the photograph was interesting with the out-of-control vines. DebbieWe walked south along Konviktstraße cobblestone street, with the customary bächle, toward the Schwabentor and our hotel. This was an interesting picture at left. It appears as if the vines are slowing devouring this clock shop on Konviktstraße.

             Another pleasant walk is along the Fischerau. It goes along the small canal the runs through Freiburg between the two old city gates.

             On Monday, we took a walk through the Schwabentor near our hotel and across a small pedestrian bridge over the Schloßbergring. This led us to a large park, called the Schloßberg, on a hill next to the Altstadt. There is a path up the hill that gives some very good sights of Freiburg. I took the picture of the Münster through the trees at the top of this website from here. On the other side, there is a cable car that we took down the hill to a park near the cathedral.

            There used to be fortifications up here, but they have been ruins since 1745. A few years after we visited Freiburg (in the fall of 2002), a new lookout tower was completed at the top of the "Salzbüchsle", offering a beautiful 360° view of Freiburg and the Black Forest.

             Here is Debbie sitting on a bench across from the Schwabentor (in the background). We are on the path that leads up the Schloßberg. She is looking at the guidebook wondering were I am leading her now.


Freiburg            The area around Oberlinden was one of the first settled areas of Freiburg. The deep cellars of the houses go back to Freiburg’s earliest days. Of even older origin is the street fork at the Baroque "Marienbrunnen" fountain (in the center of the photo at right in front of the big tree). To the right is Herrenstraße and to the left is Salzstraße. Here the old high road to Herdern left the trade route still called Salzstraße after the salt from the Swabian salt towns that was transported on it. The Dukes of Zähringen incorporated this important road into their new town.

Schwabentor          Our hotel entrance is beneath the golden bear at the left side of the photo. You can see the top of the Münster in the center of the picture. Luckily, the area went almost untouched by the aerial bombings in 1944 that leveled hundreds of buildings only a couple streets away.

Schwabentor             In the other direction from this picture the road continues out of the Altstadt. Around 1200, the Schwabentor (Swabian tower) was built over it. It is the other remaining fortification tower gate (originally there were four towers). In the 16th century, this gate was decorated with a painting of a Swabian salt trader. Since 1903, the outer (or south) side has a painting of St. George (picture at left), the town’s patron saint. Right into this century the area in front of the Schwabentor was full of smithies and inns. The picture at left was taken from outside the gate looking north into the Altstadt. The picture at right is from the Altstadt looking south.

          Right next to the fork in the road and a few houses from the Schwabentor was the hotel that Debbie and I staid in called the "Gasthaus Zum Roten Bären" (Hotel of the Red Bear). It is supposedly the oldest guest house in Germany. Despite the name, the bear over the door is gilded in gold and is not red and the sign on the guest house pub gives theGasthaus Zum Roten Bären shortened name "Bären". They have a deep cellar that can be traced back to the time of the Freiburg's founding. The house was first mentioned in 1387 and there is documentary proof that the "Bären" had its first landlord, Johann Bienger, in 1311. Since then, there have been approximately 50 generations of landlords!

         It is believed that the "Bären" was damaged by the explosion of the city fortifications in 1744-45. Because of this, remains of walls which had been destroyed at an earlier time, were used to repair parts of the building. The present Baroque facade was erected in the 19th century. The "Bären" survived the war undamaged, however its interior has been renovated several times. In 1957, the exterior was painted in red and gray colors and the coat of arms and inscriptions were added. The back building was constructed in 1981 on a site where a small section of the old city wall is still preserved. Our room was in the back with glass doors that opened on to a balcony overlooking the garden and the old wall.


             Here is a higher view taken from the cathedral. You can see our hotel in the center of the picture just below the Schwabentor. The the Schloßberg is the grassy hill off to the left. There is a cafe on the hill that you can see in the upper right of the photo.

Eating and Drinking in Freiburg

             Of course, there is no shortages of good places to eat and drink in Freiburg. On our first night, July 18, we ate at the Hotel Rappen, which is just to the right of the Kornhaus in the Münsterplatz in the shadow of the cathedral. The Weinstube zum Rappen, which has a long history in Freiburg, originally stood next door to where it is today (where the peach colored building  is in the photo below right). That hotel, the Heiliggeist Stüble, stood to it's right where the yellowish building is now. On the current location of the Hotel Rappen was the Hôtel du Rhin. All three of the buildings were destroyed in the bombing raids in 1944. In the 1960's, the Hotel Rappen was rebuilt on the site of the Hôtel du Rhin with the Heiliggeist-Stüble built on the old site of the Weinstube zum Rappen. The new Freiburg library was built on the original spot of the Heiliggeist Stüble. So basically, they shifted the two restaurants to the left to make room for the library (I am a font of useless information). 

 Debbie eating at the Hotel Rappen   Frank drinking at the Hotel Rappen     

            Since it was so warm out, we ate outside. I had the Rumpsteak "Partner Revanche" mit Knoblauchsauce und hausgemachten Spätzle (Rump steak "Partner revanche" with fresh garlic sauce and homemade Spätzle - it even looks good in the photo). As you can see, I really was enjoying my beer (I tried a Ganter Pilsner here). Debbie, as usual, had a Coke.

Frank having a bier in Freiburg             The next night, July 19, we had dinner at the Hotel Ganter. It's on the other side of the Münsterplatz, next door to the Gasthaus Oberkirch and two houses from the Kaufhaus. I tried the goulash soup along with a Ganter Weißbier. I had Debbie try the weißbier, but she decided to stick with her Coke (it had ice in it which made her happy).

                Of course, just like every where else in Germany, the beer is excellent. I really grew to enjoy the Weißbier. Weißbier, or simply Weiße, is also referred to as a wheat beer. What makes it different is that it is brewed with both malted barley and malted wheat, as opposed to only barley. The addition of wheat lends Weißbier a lighter flavor and paler color than most all-barley ales. Weißbier is customarily top fermented, that is, fermented with ale yeast. "Weiß" is German for "white", so this seems to translate to "white beer", however it is not lighter in color than other beers but refers to the color of the foam which arises during the top-fermented brewing process. You can stop at any outdoor cafe and order one. Of course, 'you know who' would never drink one no matter how hard I try to talk her into it.

Ganter             All German cities and most towns have their own beer breweries and Freiburg is no different. Ganter seems to be very popular in Freiburg (they started brewing it back in 1898) and is served in many restaurants like the Hotel Rappen and of course the Hotel Ganter. A couple of the other popular local brands are Martin’s Bräu and Hausbrauerei Feierling. Another popular beer is Rothaus which is brewed southeast of Freiburg in the Black Forest.


            After our three days in Freiburg im Breisgau, it was time to continue our journey. We left on Tuesday, July 20, and headed north to our next stop, Heidelberg. However, we were not in a hurry to get there, we still wanted to explore the Schwarzwald or Black Forest. We drove along a scenic route that out guide book outlined that took us east and then north through some beautiful hills and valley's of the Black Forest. The Black Forest gets it's name because the dark firs and pines that cover the mountainous region. There are many legends surrounding the Black Forest and most of them involve some kind of witch.

             We first drove to a scenic area on a mountain called Belchen (altitude 4,639 ft.). We parked the car and had a short walk to the top which has views all around the Black Forest, Rhine Valley and off to the west, France. 

Titisee            We then drove north-east and stopped at Titisee. It's a lake east of Freiburg that owes its creation to the Feldberg glacier. The lake, which is 2,772 feet above sea level is situated among the Black Forest hills and is quite pretty. Legend says that the Roman general Titus, who camped here with his troops, supposedly was so taken with the beauty of the lake that he spontaneously gave it his name. Our guide on the boat trip said that it's only a legend and most likely not true.

            We took a one-hour excursion boat ride out around the lake which is about a Titiseesquare mile and in some places, over 130 ft. deep. It was windy and cool which was quite enjoyable considering some of the hot weather we had. We were told that Titisee takes a long time to freeze in the winter owing to those winds, which almost always keep the surface water moving. In fact, it rarely ever completely freezes. There is the new bride enjoying the sun and breeze at right. You can also rent small boats to go out by yourself (that you see in the picture above), however Debbie is against getting into anything that small.

            On the north shore of Titisee is the Spa town of Titisee-Neustadt. Titisee-Neustadt is made up of the parts of towns of Titisee, Neustadt, Waldau, Langenordnach, Schwärzenbach and Rudenberg and has a total population of 12,000. Since its conversion to a pedestrian zone and waterfront promenade along the lake, Seestraße is considered one of the loveliest streets for strolling in the Southern Black Forest. After leaving the lake, we drove north along Route 500 to Triberg.


Triberg             Our next stop was a small town called Triberg, a small city in the center of the Black Forest. Here we had some lunch and looked around. Nearly every restaurant and café offers 'authentic' Black Forest Cake or in German "Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte" (literally "Black Forest cherry cake"). Café Schaefer, on Hauptstraße (the main street), supposedly has the best Black Forest Cake from the original recipe. Owner Claus Schaefer got the recipe from his father who was an apprentice to Josef Keller (1887-1981), the inventor of the Black Forest cake. Keller was a pastry chef in Bad Godesberg when in 1915 he created for the first time what he called a “Schwarzwälder Kirsch”.

            Triberg was built on the side of as hill, so walking around means walking up or down small streets. We stopped in the Hotel Pfaff (center of photo at left) for lunch. They have outdoor patio which was pleasant on such a nice afternoon.
The hotel has been run by the same family since 1882.

Wasserfall            In addition to it's cake, the Black Forest is famous for it's clocks also, so Debbie and I visited the largest clockshop in Triberg (maybe even the world), the Haus der 1000 Uhren or House of a Thousand Clocks. The store along Hauptstraße, with it's green, yellow and red sign is the third from right in the picture above left, is huge inside. It has been run by the Weisser family on this spot since the 1880's. They have everything from large, ornate Black Forest Cuckoo Clocks of all designs to Grandfather clocks. The walls are full of clocks, most making their famous cuckoo sounds. We decided to purchase a walnut Mantel clock for around  DM 1,000 which in 1999 was about $500 (we were shocked to find out it now cost 668.90 Euros - over $800). The World's Biggest Cuckoo Clock is also in Triberg, but despite the name, we couldn't find it.

            Triberg is famous for the tallest waterfall in Germany. The Wasserfälle (waterfall), where the Gutach River plunges over a series of cascades over a mile long and about 1,600 ft high.  The Waterfall contains a series of beautiful nature trails, with the main trail zigzagging across the face of the falls with a series of wooden bridges. The trail is about a mile in length roundtrip and there is a fee, though not very much, to enter the trail. The waterfalls are lit at night. The Gutach River starts in Titisee and eventually flows into the Rhine River. Triberg used the power of the waterfall to generate electricity and became the first city in Germany with electric street lights.

             We drove north along the scenic roads (Route 33) of the Schwarzwald, through the town of Freudenstadt to the city of Baden-Baden and back on the A5 Autobahn north to Heidelberg.

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This website was created on April 13, 2006

War damage in Freiburg

war damage

Here is a post World War II photo of the Munster. This photo was most likely taken
from Salzstraße (note the streetcar tracks and wires) looking north on Dreherstra
ße. Today, this part of Salzstraße
is full of large department stores.
Dreherstraße itself, between Salzstraße and Schusterstraße,
goes underneath a large Kaufhof department store.