Friday, September 16, 2016

Harlequin in the Harz!

At the end of July, I was invited to participate in a grand adventure by my fellow fellow, Kirsten. A friend of hers (Scott) in Berlin was looking for something do to around the Wolfenbüttel/Harz Mountains region, and who better for a guide than the weird medievalist who travels excessively to small towns nearby?! Kirsten and I took the train to Quedlinburg to meet up with Scott in his legendary car—the Harlequin. In 1996, for reasons known only to God, Volkswagen produced a multi-colored version of the Golf and named it the Harlequin. And Scott owns one of them.

Scott's Harlequin in Goslar
We hopped into the Harlequin and headed into the historic city-center of Quedlinburg, where we hiked up the hill to see the church and the views of town! (Previous post about my visit to Quedlinburg: here.) 
Sweet Quedlinburg
Quedlinburg Rathaus
Rooftops from the top
Quedlinburg Stiftskirche
We ate dinner at a darling café that had a pen full of chickens and one badass rooster, and it was perfect.

Cock of the Walk, as my Dear Old Dad would say...
After Quedlinburg, we hopped back in the Harlequin and took off into the Harz! Lots of road construction and detours later, we saw a sign for Teufelsmauer (Devil’s Wall) and decided we could not pass up such an opportunity for adventure. So, the story of the Teufelsmauer (as we read on informative plaques) is that the Devil was upset about the spread of the Lutheran Reformation and decided to build a wall around the Harz Mountains to keep the Christians out and the witches (who, obviously, live in the Harz) in. He had one day to do it, but when a merchant taking roosters to market passed the rooster crowed, and the Devil thought it was morning and he ran out of time, so he threw a tantrum and broke the wall down…. Weird story, but whatever. Apparently it is actually an Upper Cretaceous sandstone formation, but that’s boring.

I guess this is the Teufel
Keeping up the theme, we decided to visit the Hexentanzplatz (witches’ dancing place). We all sort of thought it might be an outcropping or something similar to the Teufelsmauer, but we were very wrong. It is an amusement-park type attraction with witch tchotchkes and tourists everywhere! It was all very bizarre, so we explored and people-watched and then went on about our way.

A man told us, in all seriousness, that this is where the witches used to fly back and forth between this gorge.  If they weren't good enough witches, the devil would kick them off into the gorge to die.  He was being very serious.
The Harz from the Hexentanzplatz
After such a grueling day of adventuring, we stopped for some low-key walking and dinner in Goslar before heading back to Wolfenbüttel. For Kirsten and Scott, hopping in the Harlequin for spontaneous day-trips is something of a tradition, and I was honored to be included!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Corine and Volker Join the Adventures: Fischbeck, Hameln, Isenhagen, Walkenried, and Heiningen

Boy, have I got a lot of catching up to do!! It is hard to believe I haven’t written a new post since July – But I guess I’ve been pretty busy. Hopefully now I can get caught up a little, and share what all I have been up to these past couple of months.

Back around July 9 Corine and Volker came to Wolfenbüttel because Corine was invited to present a lecture at the library summer seminar titled “Art, Reformation, and the Cult of Martin Luther.”  It was so fun having them back in Wolfenbüttel to visit and adventure some more! 

 I attended the morning portion of Corine’s lesson, and then took off with Volker, Beth, and Hanne to visit a monastery in Fischbeck. Since Corine and Volker came in the car, we picked some sites to visit that are a bit more off the beaten path, and therefore difficult for me to reach without a car.  We had a super tour of Fischbeck! The monastery was founded around 955, and much of the architecture that remains is still from the 12th and 13th centuries. They even have a couple textiles—One is a 1583 woven tapestry that depicts the foundation of the monastery in six scenes. (Unfortunately, no photography allowed inside the church.) The grounds and garden were also beautiful, and we spent a lot of time exploring and taking photos before heading out.

Fischbeck Cloister
Fischbeck from the Garden
Fischbeck from the Cloister
Spidey-web at Fischbeck
Lichen at Fischbeck
Poof-ball flowers at the Fischbeck gardens
On the way home, we decided to stop by Hameln for dinner. Hameln (or Hamelin) is, of course, best known because of the Pied Piper of Hamelin! The Pied Piper is actually a story all the way back to the Middle Ages, popularized by the Brothers Grimm. When you really think about it, it’s an awful story, but the statues of the pied piper and little rat tchotchkes all over town are pretty adorable.

B&B at the Pied Piper House in Hamelin
Pied Piper!
Pied Piper!
These little rat cobblestones were all over Hamelin!
The next day, Corine, Volker, Beth, and I drove to Isenhagen to visit the monastery there—another one that is difficult to reach without wheels. We were given a super tour of the church and then had time to see the museum, which is full of medieval textiles! Isenhagen had been on my list for a long time, but I had been unable to visit because public transportation doesn’t really run out there. (No photography is allowed on the tours, but I was able to contact the Abbess afterward and make an appointment to return to Isenhagen and take photos in the museum—post to come.)

Isenhagen cloister window
Exploring a funky tree in the Isenhagen cloister garden
Loom at Isenhagen!
Loom at Isenhagen!
Thanks to some conveniently-timed car trouble, Corine and Volker had to stay an extra day in Wolfenbüttel. We spent the time driving across the Harz Mountains to a Cistercian ruin and museum in Walkenried. So scenic! The 12th-century church ruins are beautiful, and the museum is extremely thoughtful and informative. 
Walkenried ruins
Walkenried ruins
Walkenried ruins
Walkenried ruins
Walkenried cloister
Walkenried cloister capitals and vaulting
Serious art historian/photographer Bevin
Corine and I at Walkenried
There were dress-up robes at the Walkenried museum!
I'm a monk.
On the way home from Walkenried, we took a slight detour through Heiningen. There aren’t any textiles left in Heiningen, but they produced high-quality embroideries during the Middle Ages so it was nice to see the church anyway. Heiningen is also home to a couple donor figures that Corine has researched, so I really enjoyed seeing those in person as well.

Heiningen donor figures
As far as adventure partners go, it’s hard to beat my Doktormutter and Fotovater out on the open road!

Doktormutter and I exploring ruins
Me and Fotovater photographing stuff