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I checked in at the Park Hotel Post, drawn to its prime location and literary-themed atmosphere that honors renowned authors who have stayed there before. Every room is dedicated to a different author and their works, while the hotel is also divided into different regions. I was pleased to find a collection of autographed books by famous authors who had also stayed at the hotel. I loved how the hotel showcased the history and culture of Freiburg, which made me eager to explore the city further with the help of a local guide.
I learned about the history of Freiburg, including how it was founded as a free market town in the Upper Rhine Valley and the significance of its location at the meeting point of three nations. I also discovered how it was destroyed during World War II but has since been rebuilt with colorful stone buildings made from Rhine pebbles. As I explored the city, I was fascinated by the little canals called "Bachles," which are a source of civic pride. Additionally, I went window shopping in Freiburg's main shopping district and learned that it is a popular shopping town in the Upper Rhine Valley.
The Freiburg cathedral is a gothic masterpiece made of red sandstone that took 300 years to build. The cathedral contains over 500 stained glass windows that were commissioned by guilds of craftsmen and local rulers in the Middle Ages, which also served as advertising billboards. The citizens of Freiburg were able to save the stained glass windows during WWII by removing them from the windows and storing them in boxes. The cathedral was the heart of the city where commerce and social life converged around the market, and bread shapes used as measurements in medieval times are carved into its walls.
The market first started in 1973 with only 20 stalls, but it has now grown to 129 different stalls. It's known for its artisanal products and handicrafts, such as blown glass ornaments, belt items, and woodworks. Wood carving is a significant tradition in the Black Forest, so it's no surprise that there are plenty of woodworkers present at the market.
I met up with my guide, Bernhard Muller, and we made plans to visit the farmer's market around the cathedral and two notable museums in Freiburg. Ben, the manager of the market, introduced us to the different vendors and explained that the market is a combination of regional produce, handcrafted goods, and regular traders. It's considered the heart of the city by locals and serves as the city's grocery store. We enjoyed a breakfast of Freiburg's famous Lange Rote sausage and explored the farmer's market, where local farmers, producers, bakers, and artisans sell their products.
Bike riders are abundant in the city, reflecting the popularity of cycling as a mode of transportation in this eco-conscious culture. The people of Freiburg usually steer clear of single-use plastics and prefer to avoid driving cars whenever possible.
I arrived at Freiburg's Museum of Modern Art and was grateful for the guide who showed me around. Curious about the museum's history, I asked how it came into being. The guide informed me that in the mid-1980s, the collection of 20th and 21st-century art was moved from Augustiner Museum to the current building, an old girls' school that used to be part of a nun cloister. As we walked through the museum, I couldn't help but notice the empty wall space, which served as a poignant reminder of the toll World War II took on the art and cultural treasures. The guide shared that half of the collection was taken away by the Nazis, and although they are in a data bank, they haven't been found yet. I admired the museum's permanent collection, particularly the celebrated German artists.
The Augustiner Museum in Freiburg, Germany showcases artworks from the Middle Ages up to the Baroque period and 19th century paintings. It was established in the 19th century as a collection of the citizens, and is located in a former monastery of the order of St. Augustine. The museum features towering statues from the end of the 13th century, as well as gargoyles that serve a functional purpose of spitting away water and preventing damage. Restoration and preservation are major parts of the museum's mission, with an expert repairing cracks in a painting during the visit. The museum also has one of the most important collections of medieval stained glass in Germany, with stained glass from the end of the 13th century and a lot from the 16th century, mostly from churches in Freiburg. The ground floor of the museum features an archeological exhibit of excavated objects buried or lost during World War II, while the graphic art collections are housed in a modern building with a sculptural stairwell called the "Kleinodientreppe," featuring precious things including a collection of old Chinese porcelain from the Confucius Institute.
As I end my trip to Freiburg, I decide to take a cable car ride in the old town and admire the sweeping vistas of the Black Forest and the cathedral spire. While taking in the view, I reflect on how the city's culture and creativity are influenced by various factors such as geography, architecture, art, and craft.