Discovering Freiburg, Germany
Frieburg lies on the edge of Bavaria’s Black Forest. Known as the sunniest city in Germany, Freiburg has modern architecture, medieval history, gourmet food and breathtaking scenery. This makes it one of the must see towns to visit in Germany.
Initially you pass modern, environmentally sustainable buildings. You then step back 500 years through Martinstor, one of two remaining medieval city gates, into the old town centre.
Explore cobblestoned streets inlaid with guild crests denoting the trades of the buildings’ former occupants. Here you will find medieval squares flanked by frescoed buildings and ancient fountains. Shady cafe umbrellas invite you to stop and people watch as you enjoy a coffee or an icecream sundae.
Exploring Freiburg Medieval history
The sleek, modern architecture of this university city contrasts starkly with the frescoed buildings of the 11th century medieval town centre.
Here we spent a Sunday morning meandering along the narrow, deserted cobblestone streets enjoying the magnificent old town buildings. Initially we passed through Martins Tor, one of two remaining medieval city gates. These have survived both wars and surrounding development in modern history.
If you wish to soak in the history without hordes of tourists, Sunday is definitely the day to visit. However all the shops are closed. We were quite content to enjoy a window shop as we explored the streets and alleyways.
Crystal clear water streams through the “Bachle” gutters which run along the cobbled footpaths. They provide welcome relief to the scorching heat reflected from the stone buildings.
The gutters were originally constructed as early as the 11th century. They formed a water and irrigation supply, and were used to fight fires.
Today children and tourists splash through the cooling water. It is local superstition that if you accidentally step in the Bächle, you will marry a Freiburger. So I guess we’ll be heading back to Freiburg in the next 20 years or so for my nephew’s wedding.
Old town squares.
In Rathausplatz the 14th Century Old Town Hall is now the Freiburg tourist office. This should be your first stop. Around midday you can hear the “glockenspeil” chime the hour.
In Augustinerplatz, the Augustiner museum, a former monastery now houses a collection of medieval and baroque artworks.
We then headed several km UP the mountain to Schlossberg. The 11th century castle ruins give you a panoramic lookout over the city.
An inclinator car took us to the top. Sort of. But the remaining steep uphill hike to the top was well worth the effort. We found breathtaking panoramic views across the Vosges mountain range, with the Swiss Alps on one side and the French Alps on the other,
The village of Freiburg is nestled below amid the hills of the Black Forest. The iconic Munster spire towers over the village.
It was on this site that the dukes of Swabian nobility built their first fortified castle nearly 1,000 years ago. Schlossberg literally means castle hilltop. In German, ‘Schloss’ means castle and ‘Berg’ means mountain or hilltop.
The castle was then successively taken over by the counts of Freiburg, the Hapsburgs and then the French occupiers. The French incorporated the medieval castle into the city’s fortifications during the 17th century. Today, Schlossberg shows ample evidence of its eventful past. Such as the ruins of Baroque walls, the Bismarck Tower built in 1906 and the Cannon Square.
Making our way to the bottom, we found our way to Munsterplatz. Tired, hot and thirsty, we more than happy to join the locals in the traditional summer Sunday afternoon activity. Eating ice cream sundaes in the square.
Wandering through the Munsterplatz markets you can sample the produce stalls and local delicacies,such as Freiburg wurst. Here the 14th century Merchant’s Hall is adorned with ancient coats of arms and statues honouring four Roman Emperors.
We then strolled through the magnificent Gothic 12th century Freiburg Munster (Cathedral). Construction of the Cathedral took over 300 years. Most of the builders never saw the finished project simply trusting that the Cathedral would be completed as they had imagined.
The 116-metre west tower, built in an open lattice structure is a landmark on the Freiburg skyline today.
The three ton 750-year-old Hosanna bell is one of Germany’s oldest Angelus bells. These are rung before the traditional Roman Catholic Angelus prayer service. The Hosanna’s ring is unmistakable: melancholic, loud and clear.
Miraculously, Freiburg’s Cathedral was spared in the bombings during the war and now bears witness to over 800 years of Freiburg’s history.
One day in Freiburg only gave us a taste of what this historic town has to offer. During the week, you can browse through market stalls sampling local produce, or take the longest cable car ride in Germany to Schauinsland, 10 kilometres from the town centre. At an altitude of 1284 metres, you can enjoy hiking around the peak while taking in the magnificent scenery.