Monday, 1 June 2015

sunday drive: gersfeld

More times than I’d like to count (at least the half of them when leaving home for the workweek), I’ve passed through the town of Gersfeld at the gateway to the Rhön and near the convergence of Bavaria, Thuringia and Hessen without giving it much thought, since H and visited once before and it seemed too familiar, like some scrolling background scenery against a travelling-matte.

The other day, however, I did decide to explore a little again off the main street. Despite being historically hemmed in by two more powerful municipalities of the region, Würzburg and Fulda, a great fire that destroyed much of the medieval city, the Napoleonic Wars that made the property hotly contested and most recently the loss of its industrial importance and status as a transportation hub with the division of Germany, the little town was really able to hold its own. There’s an ensemble of castles confined within a spacious estate that climbs the rolling, manicured foothills to the Jugendstil Park Villa above.
The far end of this garden also contained an interesting water-feature in the form of a narrow wading pool (between the hedgerows) called a Kneipp Heilbad, part of a regiment of hydrotherapy devised by Priest Sebastian Kneipp that harnessed the healing properties of thermal waters by alternating temperature and pressure.
Father Kneipp’s methods are well known in Germany and has inspired many offshoot techniques but in Norway, he is better known for another invention—the recipe for what’s called Kneippbrøt—a staple whole-wheat food and most consumed bread in Europe. I wasn’t expecting the spa-installation so was not properly attired but do certainly plan to stop in Gersfeld again soon.