Monday, 11 May 2015

sunday-drive: bel étage oder free-parking

Taking advantage of the fine weather, on my way back to my workweek apartment, I took a slight detour and saw a bit more of Hanau. Taking refuge at the first open and non-challenging parking space, which turned out—happily—very out of the way and had me trudging from one end of the city to the other and back again, I found myself across from the Frankfurter Tor and admired a collection of ancient headstones that were preserved in the front lawn of the municipal justice building.
The original cemetery grounds had been claimed by the Industrial Revolution when the city saw exponential growth but had had a life-span from the early 1600s to 1840, and it was curious that my next destination (I’d done a little research but didn’t exactly have an itinerary) was a modern graveyard built atop an even more ancient site: the foundations of a Roman bath whose schema illustrated how hot-water was harnessed and circulated—a feature of the plumbing of antiquity that the occident took a long time to rediscover. Coming to where the river Kinzig empties into the Main, I toured the grounds of splendid summer residence of the House of Hanau in the district of Kesselstadt.
The corps de logis is done in a Renaissance revival style and overlooks a huge, undulating garden.
Returning to my car afterwards, I realised that I had parked (rather inadvertently) just on the western perimeter of Hanau’s Altstadt—or what remained after the bombing during WWII, and took a look around the Marktplatz as well. Before one of the few restored structures, the “new” Rathaus, is a fine sculpture celebrating two of the city’s native sons, the Brothers Grimm—although a lot of other places claim this famous pair as well. Most of the rest of the city was laid out in a practical manner, utilitarian, with space allocated for housing and building new in the rubble, as opposed to curating what was lost.
I always feel keenly self-conscious when confronted with an urban environment whose past has been levelled and washed away and wonder if the juxtaposition of a few showcases (as opposed to the sentiment of an entirely restored look and feel) is enough to jar the memory and whether history can be encapsulated in any sort of ensemble. I wonder what the Grimms would have made of such enchanted remnants. I am glad that I had the long stroll and gallery of impressions to think on.