Sunday, 5 March 2017

Bamberg again: 2 - across the waters

That's to say, from the perspective of the hilly side with the Dom and Michelsberg rampant, taking one of the various bridges across the Regnitz - what Nuremberg's Pegnitz, the meadows alongside which are immortalised in Act 3 of Die Meistersinger, becomes in Bamberg - to the Inselstadt or bürgerlich part of town, and then on over the Main-Danube Canal to the market gardeners' zone. The most photographed part of town is what they call 'Little Venice', the fishermen's and boatmen's houses abutting the Pegnitz. Thus I saw it this time (as pictured above) and back in September 2014

thus complementing the two-seasons shots of the Archbishop's vineyards in my first Bamberg photojournal this year. The other irresistible sight for photographers is the Altes Rathaus, straddling two forks of the Regnitz on a little island, from the southwest. A mixture of Gothic from 1453 and Rococo from 1755, its citing is attributed to a power struggle between the Volk and the Bishop, who wouldn't cede land on 'his' side of the Regnitz. Hence the quaint island-compromise.

My route on a freezing Sunday morning took me across the footbridge from the hotel in the lovely old hospital building to the riverside park beyond the concert hall. Despite the temperatures, the birds were all keeping active and sticking in groups - nice to see ducks of different varieties gliding together

and a lone cormorant on a tree stump.

The light was shining on the vines and gardens of the Michelsberg opposite

and this route is very garden-lined, at least until you reach Fischerei with its lovely old houses, including a music school with the chalked-on three-kings-and-year logo customary on that January weekend.

Here's another near the market place

and a couple of the hundreds of sacred statues and plaques which punctuate buildings both side of the Regnitz and beyond.

There's a riverside hub of sorts by the old slaughterhouse of 1742 with its stone ox above the door. It's now a library of the university, which has its buildings all over the Inselstadt including, of course, the famous Natural History Museum with its celebrated Vogelsaal I waxed lyrical over in 2014.

From here the Altes Rathaus looks like a ship afloat the Regnitz.

My course this time was through the main thoroughfares up to the market-gardeners' quarters. A reverse route to the one we took from the station on arrival two days earlier, it took in the pedestrianised Grüner Markt with its handsome Neptune fountain (Bambergers call him 'Gabelsmann', 'fork man', because of the trident) and the facade of the grandiose early 18th century St Martin,

The Jesuits emulated their folk in Rome with an imitation of Pozzo's dome - I remember it well from our Roman holiday with a friend who was of a very particular, obsessive Catholic bent - the first of its kind in Germany.

Heading northeast, passing modern chainstores with old statues above,

you come to the Maximiliansplatz with its Max fountain and the grandiose priests' seminary of 1729-38, now converted into the new Rathaus.

Then I hit the Main-Danube Canal - unlike the Pegnitz, mostly iced over

and with seagulls dotting the ice-sheets.

Having crossed a main road with not a car in sight at a red light, and roundly abused for it by a fat old German with an Alsatian - his dialect was impenetrable so I swore back at home in English - I found the refuge of St Gangolf's, founded as a canonry church in 1058.The Romanesque towers were Gothicized in 1400 and given their onion-caps in 1700.

A service was going on inside, but there didn't seem to be much to hang around for, so I walked alongside the attached ecclesiastical establishment

past a statue of St Sebastian (1780)

and around the old streets with typical market gardeners' houses.

They seem to have been no less devout than the Bishop's citizens two rivers away, to judge from the abundance of statues and shrine (are the citizens still devout? It seemed to from all the packed churches I saw that morning).

St Gangolf's was the market gardeners' church from the time they settled in this tax-free zone to grow vegetables for patrician Bambergers on land between the Hauptsmoor Forest and the right arm of the Regnitz. Licorice and seeds became major exports (onions and garlic tended to be the staple of the land slightly more removed from Bamberg). There are plenty of fields and greenhouses around the station, but I did come across this one heading back to the Canal. There's an 'Urban Horticulture' project to protect the knowledge since 2009.

Back at a bridge over to a grandiose 19th century building (as I didn't cross and walk past it I didn't get to find out what it was),

I got halfway

then decided to turn back and walk along the north embankment lined with grand art nouveau and neoclassical apartment buildings. Fine owls on this one of 1911.

Most of Bamberg was spared Allied bombardment, but not the Church of Our Redeemer further on - though it was only built in 1933 and reconstructed after the war.

It has a fine wooden roof and a very democratic feel about it when I went in and the female Lutheran pastor was greeting a group of young people.

So back on to the Inselstadt and a second look around E T A Hoffmann's haunts (touched upon in the January entry). A different route to it meant I passed one of the finest of all building-adorning statues of Virgin and Child

as well as a curious plaque on the wall of what is now a small hotel.

Walking back along Lange Strasse, I got a fresh perspective on the late-Gothic Haus zum Saal

with its baroque facade and plaque testifying to the fact that Wallenstein stayed here for three days in October 1632 while surveying the imperial Bavarian army.

Close by is a plaque on a house where Dürer lived. He might approve its artistic weathering.

I'd spent longer than intended on the market gardeners' side, so I thought that rather than rush the intended visit to the State Gallery on Domplatz, I'd relax in one of my favourite cafes anywhere, the Cafe Müller, giving the Cafe Prückerl in Vienna a run for its money.

So I enjoyed a quick crepe and espresso

before heading back across the bridges linking the Altes Rathaus with both sides,

paying homage to the little comic gesture of a 'real' putto's foot on the side of the building

and looking southwards to the meeting of waterways

before rushing back to the hotel for the taxi to the station. I can't imagine this will be the last time I see Germany's most beautiful old city.


David Damant said...

Your 2014 and 2017 pictures seem to show a large white or grey building looming in the 2017 background. Its shape and colour are not too much of a negative, but what is it?

As regards the old gentleman and the red light, years ago some young friends swam across a river in Germany to a small island, only to be loudly criticised by a group on the island for not using the bridge. They humbly apologised and asked where was the bridge? Only to receive repeated shouts condemning their swimming which was strictly forbidden. Having failed to stop the tirade and having obtained no information as to the whereabouts of the bridge they jumped back into the water and swam away, followed by Walkure like cries of horror at such indiscipline

David said...

It's only visible in the more recent pic, and I have no idea - you're right, it does mar the ensemble somewhat and it's surprising, in a city where the residents lead all the conservation moves, to see it (I was told there's an unusual civic pride here and people fork out for many restorations).

The German 'civic mindedness' works both ways. I remember seeing an upturned boat on the inner Alster in Hamburg, and while I was staring a cyclist asked if I'd called the police. I explained I couldn't - didn't have a mobile then - and left it to him. On the other hand the officiousness can be stunning, chiefly in Berlin, but we found it in Thuringia too. And remind me to tell you the story reported by Anna Steiger one day....not really right to put it up here.

Unknown said...

Hello David

Thank you for this fascinating entry with your superb photographs.

The elephant is interesting, comparing him (if I may give a gender to this member of Proboscidea) with the Bernini elephant in Rome. How things moved on because the Bernini beastie has a trunk like a hoover attachment whereas the unknown sculptor has obviously built on centuries of looking at elephants and artists drawing them in order to create this wholly plausible representation.

David said...

Thanks, Colin. The elephant plaque was the one object that troubled me in that I didn't know as much about it as the rest. There ought to be a book on shrines and tablets of Bamberg. You're quite right - though I have a soft spot for imagined elephants, especially in medieval bestiaries. Didn't Edward I have some in his menagerie?