Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


16.10.11
  More Trees and a Lake

It's no longer warm, but the first autumn storms have given way to some sunny days, and so we packed warm jackets and went landscape and history hunting again, for posts on cold winter days. :)

First, a spendid Gothic church - we haven't had one for quite some time. The St. Mary Church in Mühlhausen / Thuringia.

St. Mary Church in Mühlhausen, south side

The church was built mostly in the 14th century. It is a five naved hall church with a single main tower (86 metres high) which is a landmark of the town. The interior gives an impression of loftiness typical for the High Gothic style. It also makes for fun interior shots trying to make the pillars look like boles.

St. Mary Church, interior (the southern side naves)

The material used is local travertine, a variant of limestone. It's a good material for those flamboyant decorations at the outside, but it darkens rather fast and doesn't act well to all the nasty stuff in the air these days. The church has been recently renovated.

Next, a deceivingly peaceful looking lake.

Lake at the sacrifical site Oberdorla

Well, it is a peaceful place today, but this was not so some 2500 to 2000 years ago. A depression in the shellbearing limestone became a lake with swampy shores, later silted up and turned into a peat bog. Peat digging as late as the 1940ies led to the development of a new lake so that the place now looks pretty much like 2000 years ago.

A reconstructed 'Germanic' bridge across the lake

But the peat diggers discovered other things than peat, and soon archaeologists took interest in the bones - including human ones -, vessels, weapons and other 2000 year old finds. The place has been used as sacrifical site from the Hallstatt culture in the 6th century BC to the Migration time in the 5th century AD, and sometimes even beyond ("Just don't tell the priest we still go there.").

Another view of the lake because it's so lovely

Today there is a little indoor museum displaying some of the finds at the site, and an open air museum with reconstructed sacrifical sites from the Hallstatt time to the 3rd century AD, with those typical wooden statues, peat and grass altars, burial pits and whatever was the fashion at the time. There is also a reconstructed Germanic village with a long house, storage house, pit houses and an oven.

Reconstructed 3rd century AD German house in the open air museum Oberdorla

The site doesn't seem to have belonged to one particular Germanic tribe (it would have been the Hermunduri who settled in the area) but obviously was a larger meeting place for ritual purposes. Who knows, maybe Arminius has been there.

After his fascinating journey into the past, we went to another National Park, the Hainich.

Tree top walk in the Hainich

The Hainich is situated in the area Eisenach (Wartburg), Mühlhausen, Bad Langensalza, all important places in Thuringia. It encompasses 13,000 hectares of deciduous forest, mostly beech, mixed with ash, oak, maple and a type of linden (tilia cordata). The Hainich has been declared UNESCO World Heritage together with several other deciduous beech forests in Germany, and the Carpathian forests in Slovenia and the Ukraine.

A Roman nightmare - View from the observation tower over the Hainich at sunset

The Hainich has a tourist attraction (besides lots of beautiful hiking tours), a 550 metres long tree top walk. I wasn't sure at first if I'd dare to tackle that one since I'm prone to vertigo, but it turned out the way is so solid that I didn't mind being between 13 and 21 metres above ground. I even dared to look down. It is a fascinating perspective of a forest you don't get otherwise - and the trees are even larger from eye to eye than they seem from below.

Part of the walk seen from below

The viewing tower is even higher, 41 metres, and gives a splendid view of the surroundings. We went there shortly before sunset and while the tree tops were tinted in a warm golden shine, the light down between the boles already began to fade and give way to darkness.

Tree top walk seen from the tower

The one problem was getting shots against the low sun without funny reflections, I didn't fully succeed, but here's part of the tree top walk seen from the viewing tower. The place had been pretty busy during the day since it's only open when weather permits, but that late most people were gone. Which I like better, lol
 
Comments:
Love the lake & the house.
http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/
 
Gabriele,

Wonderful pictures and descriptions, as always. I'm going to send you an e-mail about a couple of them.
 
I thought the church stone looked superb - should have guessed it wad been renovated. Wonderful Gothic style!
 
Thank you, Le Loup, Curt, and Anerje.

Anerje, yes, it looks very white and pretty right now. That is one of the advantages of the east German buildings: to get a House Makeover now. Those sooty cathedrals in the UK would need one as well, but as long as they don't fall apart, the money for sandblasting is usually not to be found.
 
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Miscellaneous musings of an aspiring Historical Fiction and Fantasy author. Illustrated essays on Roman, Dark Age and Mediaeval history, Mediaeval literature, and Geology. Some poetry translations and writing stuff. And lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes from Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and the Baltic States.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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I'm a writer of Historical Fiction and Fantasy living in Germany. I got a MA in Literature, Scandinavian Studies, Linguistics and History, I'm interested in Archaeology and everything Roman and Mediaeval, an avid reader, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, and photographer.


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