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Herrenberg, Germany Photos ~ 13th Century Town, Historic Church with Bell Museum & Cross-Timbered Houses
Memories of Herrenberg, Germany
The following question was at one time posed to me. "What are some of the most memorable places you've visited and why?"
Having traveled a bit mostly in the United States but also in a few other countries I gave this question some serious thought and have come up with my answer.
The quaint and historic town of Herrenberg, Germany came to mind for several reasons.
Not only is it located in the gorgeous southwestern portion of Germany which includes scenic areas such as the Black Forest and an abundance of other nearby interesting and beautiful places, but it is the home of a long time dear friend of mine.
We spent some nights in her Herrenberg - Gültstein condo when I first arrived. We also took several trips going out in various directions to see some of the fascinating places in her home country as well as our prearranged trip into Switzerland.
When we were back in Herrenberg, we got to see more of this 13th century town center with the historic church and famous bell museum. It was so pleasurable with my friend interpreting the language and showing me her town and surrounding areas through her eyes and sharing her experiences.
This made for a memorable experience never to be forgotten.
More photos from Herrenberg, GermanyClick thumbnail to view full-size
Vacation in Germany
The closest that I could get when flying on airliners from Houston, Texas to my friend's locale was to land in Stuttgart, Germany which is a little over 18 miles (30 km) north of Herrenberg. My friend drove her car to pick me up at the airport and then returned with me back to her home.
When flying and looking down on this part of Germany, I saw vivid yellow swatches of color in the fields. I wondered what kind of a crop it was?
Upon arriving and unloading my suitcases, the first thing we did was to take a walk through the fragrant fields of barley and rape. Those were the bright yellow fields of rape I had seen from the air to a nearby cemetery where my friend watered her mother's flowers surrounding her grave.
It turned out to be a great place for walking, bicycling and horseback riding. While we were doing the former we saw several people riding horses in this beautiful area.
My friend's "little bit of paradise" is on the edge of a forest called the Schönbuch which is filled with beechnut, oak and pine trees. The air was sweet with fragrance and this was a great way to unwind after being cramped up in airline seats for that transatlantic flight.
After that walk and a suggested nap for me, being awakened for supper and then bedding down again, I was bright eyed and bushy tailed the next day for our three weeks of adventure.
Value of the Rape Plant
The rape seeds contain oil which have been used to lubricate machinery.
Hybridized forms of it are made into canola oil which is used for cooking with a side benefit of helping to reduce bad cholesterol.
The plants return nitrogen to the soil and the plants are also a high protein source of animal feed.
Thus, this pretty yellow blooming rape plant related to the mustard family and which caught my eye in wonderment when first seen from the air, is a very beneficial type of crop for many reasons.
Ecumenical Church Service
After trips to parts of the Black Forest, viewing castles and churches and visiting towns like St. Blasien and Freiburg among other places, we once again spent a few days in Herrenberg before heading out in other directions.
One of those days happened to be Pentecostal Monday. There was an ecumenical service being held in the park high above the town and represented by Methodist and Reformed Lutheran ministers and a Catholic priest as well as lay people. When my friend inquired if I would be interested in attending the service I said yes. Even though nothing but German was being spoken I thought that it would be something interesting to experience.
Walking through a beautiful forested area above Herrenberg known as the Alten Rain, the views were stupendous looking back down upon the area.
Flowers and Fabrics
As we approached the building in the park where the church service was to be held, people were bringing bouquets of flowers from their own gardens. These were being combined with others to make altar decorations.
Already strung from the walls and ceilings above the standing and seated people were all kinds of torn and knotted together colorful scraps of fabric.
My friend explained to me the symbolism of those fabric pieces. What it meant is that despite people coming from different backgrounds and religious faiths, we are all more similar than the differences which separate us.
I thought that was a unique way of showing that.
While I understood a German word here and there, obviously I missed most of the meaning but was surprised that I recognized the tunes of some of the music being played.
Attending the ecumenical church service was a nice portion of a day and certainly something different and memorable for me.
After the ecumenical church service we visited one of the prettiest cemeteries that I had ever seen. It was not because the monuments were the most spectacular I had ever seen. It was the setting! It was called Wald - Friedhof which meant forest cemetery and it was where my friend's aunt was buried and where she will also reside when she enters the next life.
An interesting thing I learned about German cemeteries: People are only allowed to be buried for 25 years after which the space is reused for another occupant. That being said...it is the last space filled in the cemetery when the countdown begins. So the first people buried in a particular cemetery can stay there for many years longer, on average.
Another way of reusing cemetery spaces is to remove all of the headstones and make the space into a park.
We visited one such park in Herrenberg where my friend's grandparents were buried. She associates the area of their burial with a certain tree that grew near their graves. It was a beautiful and serene setting.
An old Super 8 filming of (Herrenberg 1976) with a little bit of German language but mostly music.
13th Century Town
The older parts of Herrenberg date back to the 13th century and like so many towns in those ages, it was surrounded by a city wall for protection against marauding forces. Parts of the city walls still exist today.
We had lunch at the Hotel Gasthof Hasen and dined alfresco. The weather was crisp and sunny. It was a perfect day to explore more of this Medieval city on foot after our lunch which was topped off with steaming cups of espresso.
The year of my visit was in 1997 and at time I was told that Herrenberg consisted of about 12,000 people but with the surrounding areas that number expanded to around 26,000. Over the course of years many little villages had been incorporated into Herrenberg and such was the case with Gültstein where my friend lived at that time.
Cross Timbered Houses
Also known as half timbered houses there are many of these beautiful houses and buildings in Herrenberg...so many in fact that this town is one of 100 cities and towns from north to south in Germany that is featured on the German Timber Frame Road.
Often the natural surroundings are taken into consideration when houses are constructed. Those that are surrounded by many woods and forests, such as where I grew up in Wisconsin, lumber is often used.
Adobe is often used where the local soil provides more of the building materials such as is found in places like New Mexico. Where my husband and I live in Houston, Texas a combination of materials are utilized including bricks, stone, wood, glass and steel among other things.
It makes sense that in Herrenberg and much of Germany for that matter these half timbered houses were built.
Those that survived the bombing in both world wars are truly beautiful to see.
Cobblestoned streets in Herrenberg that my friend grew up walking upon are now replaced with bricks.
As so often happens in older cities where buildings have survived the centuries, they are put to multiple uses over the years. Where my friend and her siblings once attended elementary school it is now a goldsmith shop. It had at one time been a former prison.
In German this historic church which was originated in the 13th century is called the collegiate church. It is a dominant feature in this small town and towers over much of Herrenberg.
Located behind and above the town hall (Rathaus) in the town center, it houses a bell museum known as the Glockenmuseum in German.
During World War II bells were removed from many churches to be melted down into the making of ammunition. Fortunately for historic purposes and otherwise many were unused.
In the church tower is the largest bell collection in all of southern Germany. The church and bell collection as well as the half timbered houses have become quite a tourist attraction. The church is the one my friend attends, and according to her, restoration has taken place about every hundred years since it was first built.
On one visit to the United States, my friend brought artistic pieces of the copper roof from her church. With parts of the removed old roof an artist created things such as wind chimes or garden décor which when sold helped raise funding for the new roof. What an innovative use for the old copper!
As you can see from this photo, I still admire my copper chicken in our garden!
Garden décor from my friend's church roof in Herrenberg.
Gloriosa Herrenberg (featuring the bells ringing in the church tower)
Granite steps lead up to the Gothic styled church and from the church's tower one can see the entire town of Herrenberg including Gültstein, which along with six other surrounding smaller towns was incorporated into Herrenberg some time ago.
Sharing this historic and beautiful town of my dear friend's birth in southwest Germany with her as my tour guide made this most memorable for me. While we saw other great places in Germany, Herrenberg and my experiences there will always hold a special place in my heart.
Location of Herrenberg in Germany
Have you ever been to Herrenberg or does this look like a place you would enjoy visiting?
Aerial view of Herrenberg (Luftportrait der Stadt Herrenberg)
© 2012 Peggy Woods