Saturday, 13 April 2013

durch die kurzen hessen und durch die langen hessen

For my weekend commutes, I had found a convenient place to stop midway between home and work to tank-up, which also usually boasts a bonus flea-market on Sunday afternoons.

I took the opportunity to linger a while in the towns, separated by the river Kinzig, of Bad Soden-Salmünster and walk around the historic districts. The towns are located on the Via Regia, a protected road that during medieval times extended from Paris to Krakow, with the high road, the trade route of the Holy Roman Empire, stretching from Frankfurt am Main to Leipzig.
Each town, in exchange for policing their section for the sake of public safety and deterring highway men, was able to exact a toll on travelers, and I thought the way that the churches and the venerable homes that framed the narrow thoroughfare could excite imaginings of ancient merchants making their ways from one extreme of Europe to another. Inspecting the secular buildings, which were all sided with these distinctive and meticulous wooden shingles, I also learned that the armies tended to beat the path of least resistance along these roads too—as the Autobahnen and national highways tend to mirror them as well.
A defeated Napoleon and some of his entourage encamped at a hostel on the main street, I learned, in flight from Leipzig in 1813. It was ironic, I thought, that the armies marched through this same spot once on the way to battle as part of the domain of the bishopric of Fulda, and even though not victorious effected major reorganization and break-up of ancient holdings, retreated (while it was at Waterloo where Napoleon did surrender) through the same spot as what was soon to become part of the Grand Duchy of Hessen and by Rhein.  I am never eager to go back to work but there is a lot of interesting things to discover and learn along the way.