Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Wernigerode with Jonathan & Today's Return Trip!

On Friday, April 22 Jonathan and I decided to adventure to Wernigerode, a town at the base of the Harz mountains here in northern Germany.  Jonathan is one of the other fellows here, and he was getting ready to head back to the States around that time so we wanted to take full advantage of his last days here!

Side note: Jonathan was one of my first friends here in Wolfenbüttel.  We shared an office, were the only two fellows who stayed in Wolfenbüttel over Christmas, I could hear him walking around in his apartment directly above mine, and he actually finished and submitted his doctoral dissertation right in front of my very eyes (and has since successfully defended it).  So it was super sad to see him go, but we all have to trust our paths will cross again some day.

So we headed to Wernigerode to 1) check out an embroidery I recently discovered is still in a small church there, 2) hike up to the castle on the mountain, and 3) eat Harzer käse fondu (Harz cheese fondu).  Two out of three ain't bad.

Wernigerode Rathaus (City Hall)
The Brockenbahn is a stem-engine train that rides up the Harz mountains!
We went by Sylvestrikirche (St. Sylvester's Church) to look at the embroidery.  I had called the day before to make sure they would be open-- sometimes these smaller churches are "flexible" with their hours.  They assured me they would be there.  But they weren't.  The doors were locked and no one was home.  Luckily, Wernigerode isn't far so I knew I'd be able to come back another time.  (See the latter part of this post.)

Next on the agenda was to hike up to the Schloss.  The Schloss in Wernigerode sits atop a peak of the Harz mountains and looms over the entire town.  It is visible from almost anywhere in Wernigerode, so we didn't have a hard time finding it!  It is a long, steep climb to the top!  We were already sucking wind and feeling our legs burning when a chipper German coming down the mountain basically said, "Still a long way to climb!"  Thanks.  After a couple break to "look at the scenery," we finally made it to the top!  Beautiful views of the entire town!!!

The Climb

Jonathan contemplating life and the scenery of Wernigerode...

You can also go inside the Schloss, which is mostly preserved in its "original" state from the 1800's.  We wandered from room to room, and marveled at the fact that anyone actually lived like that.

An armoured eagle... You know...  The usual.
Damask wall-paper and parquet ceilings
Just a subtle coat of arms in the dining hall... held by a large buck...
After exploring the Schloss and its surroundings, we went back down to the town for our reward: FONDU!  Harzer käse just means cheese from the Harz mountains region, so it is something of a local specialty.  They brought it out with little bread cubes, and we enjoyed every last crumb!  Was totally good!

We walked around town a bit more after eating, saw another cool church that happened to be open (though they were trying to close and kicked us out), and had some coffee and kuchen (duh) before heading back to the train station, and then rumbling back to Wolfenbüttel.  The next week we had to say goodbye to Jonathan as he returned home to Chicago to defend his dissertation and get settled back into life in the US.  We miss you, Jonathan!! "WE DID IT!"


So then today I returned to Wernigerode.  Last week, I made some phone calls and sent some emails and made an appointment to see and photograph the embroidery in Sylvestrikirche.  I arrived in Wernigerode today around 11:00am and set about taking my photos.  The embroidery is a "white work" silk embroidery on linen, and depicts two scenes from the life of Mary Magdalene.  First, she is shown washing/annointing Christ's feet, and then again in a Noli Me Tangere (when Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection) scene.  It was made, perhaps in Kloster Heiningen, around 1250.  The "white work" embroideries are always fun for me because they show just how much patterning, texture, and variety one can still achieve in embroidery even within a monochromatic pallet!

Foot Washing
Noli me Tangere
Flying Nun Headdress?
Stigmata on Christ's Hand, Detail of Noli me Tangere
Detail of patterning
Hair in Klosterstich


  1. Love the armored bird and coat of arms

  2. Exactly as I remember it, Bevin! The thought of that sarcastic German still makes my blood boil …