Happy Reformation Day!

We visited Wittenberg, the town where Martin Luther lived, taught, and…reformed, I guess, towards the end of our travels through Germany. We visited St. Mary’s Church, where Luther preached; the outside of the Castle Church, where the whole 95 theses thing happened 488 years ago today (though not according to these nay-sayers); and his house, which is now an excellent museum of Luther’s life and times. You can see all this stuff too, and more, at Lutherstadt Wittenberg’s Virtual Tour.

Read more about Martin Luther at this fun PBS site. Lots of documents authored by or about Luther can be found here.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

In Archaeology we learn that the best-preserved ancient towns are those which were destroyed in antiquity and never resettled. The same seems to be true of medieval towns, which is good news for the tourist trade, though not so good for the medieval inhabitants.

In the Middle Ages, Rothenburg was a free imperial city and one of the largest cities in Germany, with a population of around 6000. We took the fun and interesting Night Watchman Tour there. The info from this tour (in German–find info from the tour in English here) provides a colorful summary of Rothenburg’s history, daily town life, and the duties of the night watchman; as well as more recent history, including the town’s fate during World War II.

Rothenburg was finally conquered during the 30 Years’ War, and never regained its former prosperity. But with the rise of Romanticism in the eighteenth century, Rothenburg revived and once again became a properous town due to tourism.

Read more about it!
Photos & comments on medieval Rothenburg
Resources for Germany in the Middle Ages
Wikipedia on the 30 Years’ War: scroll down and check out the “external links” as well.
Wikipedia on Romanticism

A historicity city: Berlin

We recently returned from two weeks in Germany. We had a really good time, and also got some ideas for some Historicity subjects. Since we began and ended our trip in Berlin, I thought I’d begin with it.

We stayed in the Kurf├╝rstendamm neighborhood on the way in and out of the city. Apparently even Germans don’t try to pronounce this; we saw it abbreviated as “Ku’damm” everywhere (though curiously called “Ku’damn” here, maybe Lonely Planet doesn’t like it there). Ku’damm’s main reason for being seems to be the many malls, department stores, and boutiques lining its main drag, and is right across the Tiergarten from a bunch of historical stuff we didn’t see, such as the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate.

When I was in England several years ago, the scars of World War II were apparent in the urban landscape–remains of bombed-out buildings and entire towns and neighborhoods consisting of immediate post-war rebuilding. This was no surprise to me; the blitz was familiar to me from literature as well as from history classes. I was less aware of the devastating effect of Allied bombs on Germany in late WWII as well as after the war was over. Everywhere we went in Germany, one of the main points in every town was how much of the town had been destroyed in the war, and how the town had gone about rebuilding.

In the midst of Ku’damm is a bombed-out out church next to a tower built of blue glass blocks. Adjacent to the square in which the church stands is a big mall, the Europacenter, which houses the Tourist Information office. I asked the lady there what this was; she said that it was a church bombed in World War II and left standing as an anti-war monument. We went over and investigated: the church is the Kaiser Wilhelm Church, built by Kaiser Wilhelm II in honor of his grandfather, Wilhelm I, and decorated inside with mosaics pertinent to the Hohenzollern family.

The church’s official site is here, it’s in German only. More on Berlin and the rest of our trip from us, hopefully soon!