Lederhosen, Wheat Beer, and an Old World Attitude: Augsburg, Germany
By Melissa Santley
Munich, the largest city in Bavaria, holds one of the most renowned festivals in the world -- Oktoberfest. Lederhosen, wheat beer (or weiss beer), and the pragmatic conservative nature of Germans are prevalent here in Bavaria. Early in December I visited the third largest city in Bavaria - Augsburg.
A Little History
As the second oldest city in Germany (after Trier) Augsburg’s immortality is undeniable. Augsburg is a city that has abided to a higher standard since Emperor Augustus reign in 15 B.C.
The Romans invested enough money and time into the area next to the River Lech to make Augsburg the most powerful military camp in the new empire under Augustus. The seed of Italian influence was planted during this time and gave Augsburg the tools to bear some of its global contributions.
In between the Augsburgers stern staccato dialect, you will sense a genuine expression of pride when they describe Augsburg‘s uniqueness. Everything about the city was explained to me in a simple matter of fact style. Visually Augsburg was impressive with grand cathedrals and ornate Renaissance architecture.
Old World Style Cuisine Meets Modern Brewery
Shnitzel can either be cuts of veal, pork or beef breaded and fried, whereas kase spaetzle is thick homemade noodles in cheese garnished with dried onions. I chose to have some kase spaetzle at the Konig von Flandern, a restaurant and brewery.
Instantly I was overwhelmed with the smell of the brewing beer permeating the restaurant. This would make sense since you can watch the brewing process over dinner, the tables and brewery share the same large open space. Most of the clientele came in large groups, sharing 3 liter containers of beer. Entrees were just under $10- and bring a German/English dictionary. They don’t have a menu in English.
I joined the brunt of this joke myself and was quite confused amid the maze of Augsburg’s streets. Luckily, an English speaking tour guide clued me in after the third time I asked her to how get back to my accomodation at the Augsburg hof.
The tour guide was also really helpful in showing me the streetcar, or tram, system enabling me to associate different stops with landmarks. The Tram is only $5 for a 24 hour pass and I suggest this method of travel so you don’t end up wasting your time staring at the map. The Augsburger Hof is not for the budget traveler, prices range from $80 - $140 a night. However, its luxurious atmosphere complimented the lifestyle of Augsburg.
Conveniently it is located across from the Mozarthaus, my frequented tram stop, and a stone’s throw away from the Dom of the Holy Virgin.
Some Beautiful Sites One Should Not Miss
The Dome of the Holy Virgin is a beautiful cathedral that any visitor to Augsburg should see. The oldest part of the cathedral dates back to 823 AD. Inside you will see original paintings by Hans Holbein the Elder depicting St. Mary’s Visitation. Art historians flock to this cathedral to view the oldest stained glass windows (Dating as far back as 1140 AD) illustrating prophets Jonas, Hosea and Moses.
The Fuggeri houses 200 impoverished Catholic tenants who pay a symbolic rate of one Euro annually to live in the estate. Rows of quaint yellow flats embraced by vines have stood on this street since 1523. My visit was during the Advent season so I saw rows of Christmas trees along the immaculate streets of the Fuggeri, as well as their annual Christmas Market.
Focused on selling Christmas trees and themed holiday ornaments, arts and crafts vendors sip Gluehwein, a mulled wine, while awaiting customers. My curiosities to see what lay behind the short green entrances of the flats were satisfied by the Fuggeri Museum. House No. 13 of the Fuggeri allows you to experience the small dimensions of the kitchen, bedroom, and living room contained in the famed social housing.
Greeted By Hercules on
The original fountains of Mercury and Hercules created by Adrian De Vries can be found in the Maximilian Museum. The original Augustus statue by Hubert Gerhard is also exhibited here, while the imposter points to Rome in front of the City Hall. The Maximilian Museum focuses on the silver and goldsmiths of the medieval period.
Seeing the City From Atop the Perlach Tower
With St. Ulrich at your back and walking down Maximillian Street, you will have passed Hercules and Mercury only to stumble upon Augustus guarding Augsburg’s two important landmarks- the Perlach Tower and City Hall. Both were designed by Elias Holl who served as the city’s architect from 1615-1620.City Hall is considered to be the most important secular Renaissance building north of the Alps, and is popular with the tourists.
The Golden Seal inside City Hall is absolutely astonishing. An array of golden artistry, murals of past rulers, and mythical figures adorn the ceiling and walls. The Perlach Tower, once a watchtower, offers stunning views of the city atop its 70 meter ascend.
History and architecture aside, my visit to Augsburg included a tour of the homes of two creative dignitaries. The first was the home of Leopold Mozart, father of Wolfgang Amadeus. His house is now a museum called Mozarthaus. It features his life work which was also in music. While Leopold’s son certainly overshadowed his own music career, this museum shows us where Wolfgang Amadeus inherited his talent from. While impersonal in its simplicity, Mozarthaus showcases original home furnishings, historic documents, and paintings of the Mozart family.
Brecht's house is now a museum focusing on the life work of one of
I thought this was one of the best articles I have read about Augsburg, Germany which is my home town. I was born there and my roots are there. I even lived at the Fuggeri as a small child and remembered it to be a little spooky. So as an adult to see it again, sure brought back many memories. I am always amazed when I read great articles and learn even more about my home city.
I plan on visiting my family members again in December of 2008 during the Christmas holidays which will be the first visit ever during winter season and am very excited about it. I just love the Spa’s in Germany and in Konig’s Brun (small village near Augsburg) where my cousin lives and whom I stay with. Also have brother, uncle, nephews, niece scattered throughout the Augsburg area. I feel like a young child when ever I visit there and hope once I am retired, I can live there part time. Thanks again for your good reading material of my home city.
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