Tuesday 18 June 2024

kyffhรคuserdenkmal (11. 637)

Dedicated on this day in 1896 (on the anniversary of the coronation of the latter) after six years of construction under the direction of architect Bruno Schmitz, the colossal memorial also known as the Barbarossa Monument erected on the ruins of the medieval Kyffhauser Castle is the third commemorative ensemble in Germany (see above—we visited in April of 2010) and one of a number commissioned posthumously in honour of Emperor Wilhelm I of Prussia. 

The foundations of the imperial castle from the first millennium and associated with the reign of Frederick I Barbarossa are well preserved, such as the keep and a well that is the deepest from the Middle Ages. Heralded after his death, the Kaiser was seen as his political and culturally unifying descendant and inheritor of the Barbarossa legend, the trope of the sleeping king, king under the mountain (Bergentrรผcken—including lore about King David, Arthur and Charlemagne), that Frederick with a retinue of knights is not dead but half in slumber in a secluded cavern in the massif and will return again—occasionally dispatching a scout outside to check to see if ravens are still roosting, their absence being a sign that he is needed. 

During DDR times, Communist residents in the area wanted to blow up this bombastic reminder of the country’s past but its destruction was stopped by Soviet authorities, admonishing them it was time for Germans to live with their history and statues.

Sunday 26 May 2024

schutzzieles schutzwรคlder (11. 583)

Traveling a bit further on towards Suhl, we came to a crossroads of many trails through the Thรผringer Wald but with an an embarrassment of choices but finite time could only pursue hiking a segment instead of the proper loop that was nearly thirty kilometers to see all the highlights and returning to the campsite, we picked a peak in the Rennsteig and walked to Adlersberg through the protected landscape, sensibly managed since 1937 after exploitation dating from the Middle Ages. 

There we found a restored observation tower from the late seventeen-hundreds that afforded a really commanding view of the region, with summits of the Kreuzberg. Gleichberge and Wasserkuppe in the panorama


one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: more links to enjoy

three years ago: your daily demon: Leraje, Johnny Mnemonic, the murder of George Floyd one year on, an educational short, more links to revisit plus a precursor to NFTs

four years ago: Dracula (1897) plus a cursed alignment chart

five years ago: Sweden traffic switches orientation, the EU votes plus a trip to Saxony’s Elbsandsteingebirge

Saturday 25 May 2024

fairytale jungle trail (11. 582)

For another long-weekend getaway, H and I traveled an hour northeast back to the Thรผringerwald nature reserve and found a campsite in Breitenbach along the Vesser river valley and southwest entrance to the park, with a lot of paths for wandering in the forest. 

Officially called straightforwardly “Urwaldpfad,” the app that we were using gave it the rather creatively translated name above and had a nice long hike along both banks of the river—originally planning to return via a second trail but it was proving too rough with a series of felled trees that had collapsed on the bank of the stream. 

The trail had advertised some attractions along the way like a Sensenhammer, an early industrial water-powered scythe forge for making tools and machine parts, and a historic mill (see also), but these were only waypoints with markers for installations gone and never rebuilt. 

Still the walk in the ancient woods was very pleasant with a stand of super-high firs and a nice stroll along the river—plus lots of lupines. On the way back, we stopped at a fine guesthouse with character perched on a hill overlooking the forest and village.


one year ago: assorted links to revisit

two years ago: Ciao! Manhattan, Return of the Jedi (1983) plus investigating Partygate

three years ago: HMS Pinafore, synchronisation plus Bosch with emoji

four years ago: Toki Pona, a delightfully translated menu, the Interregnum plus artist Nikolas Knรผpfer

five years ago: Towel Day

Monday 15 April 2024

das rennsteiglied (11. 489)

First performed on this day in 1951 in community hall of the Hirschbach (presently the Hotel Zum goldenen Hirsch) of Suhl by local musicians Herbert Roth and Waltraut Schulz, the hymn extolling the joy of wandering in nature (see previously here and heresee also) has become an auxiliary state anthem and better known than the official, Thรผringen, holdes Land (Fair Country). 

The refrain goes: “I often walk this path to the Hรถhn (apparently a picturesque high hill with the ruins of Fischberg castle on top that we will make it a priority to see) , the little song birds singing / If I am far away, Thuringer Forest, I only long for you!”


one year ago: Samuel Johnson’s dictionary (1755), General Dynamics’ playing cards plus assorted links to revisit 

two years ago: more links to enjoy, the Universal Day of Culture plus AI Easter eggs

three years ago: your daily demon: Valefor, more Star Fleet uniforms plus Canada’s Olympics closing ceremony costumes

four years ago: a North Korean holiday plus a prescient comic from 1990

five years ago: more on the cannibalisation of the Old Web plus the art collective messy modernism

Sunday 17 March 2024

wรผstungsperioden (11. 432)

Travelling a few villages over towards the former border, driving past some abandoned settlements, vacated owing to they’re being a liability too close to the boundary, we took another nice hike with the dog up to the ruins of Hutsburg on the summit of the Hutsberg, which also was a victim of its formerly strategic location and shifting allegiances.

On the way back, we stopped in Filke to revisit the so called Mauerschรคdel, another ruined remains, this time of early abandonment and then rendered inaccessible, like the above stronghold, during DDR times and its nave acting as the line of demarcation. 


Saturday 21 October 2023

das land der ein tausend teiche (11. 069)

Taking out the trailer for a quick trip, we traveled to Plothen not far from the Bleilochtal reservoir but got to explore a quite different geography and landscape in the local pond region. One of the primary examples of aquaculture and intensive geo-engineering predating the industrial age, the first ponds and fisheries were established by monks in the eighth century in order to provide a meat-substitute for Lent and numerous holidays and commemorations that called for fasting and abstention. Within a radius of just a few kilometers, some six hundred of these artificial ponds remain of sixteen hundred, lost over the generations through mergers and drainage to harvest fertile sediment. Fish farming was managed from so called Pfahlhรคuser—pile houses—one three hundred year old example remaining on Hausteich near the campgrounds hosting a museum dedicated to the place’s history. 

Owing to the rich soil, during East German times, the area was given over to raising pigs, but has since been rehabilitated (rather a remarkably quick turn around given it was not that long ago) and reclaimed as a tourist destination and an important rest stop for migratory birds and other wildlife.

Afterwards we went to nearby Ranis to visit the Burg, a hilltop fortification for the administration of the Saalfeld area articulated and expanded since the eleventh century.


one year ago: assorted links to revisit,  Livre de Thot plus a feline opera

two years ago: St Ursula, the first Vikings in North America plus more vocabulary building

three years ago: the origins of Op-Ed, the Dutch art of doing nothingNYC’s digital subway map, app, the sentล culture of Japan, the Royal Meteorological Society’s PoTY plus coppicing and pollarding

four years ago: IKEA tarot 

five years ago: artist Barbara Kruger plus leaf-peeping in the Rhรถn


Sunday 13 August 2023

sunday drive: talsperre lรผtsche (10. 941)

On the way back from some window-shopping, we took a detour through the Geratal to Frankenhain for a stroll around the second biggest artificial lake in the region (previously). Dammed in 1935 by the Deutschen Reichsbahn in order to provide a source of water for stations in Erfurt and Arnstadt, by the time the reservoir (Stausee) was completed steam-powered locomotion was being superseded and it was converted to hydropower—and today the same supply-system to cool data centres in Neudietendorf and for brewery operations connected to the train stations that have repurposed the cisterns. The tributary rivers have their source near the winter sports destination Oberhof, whose ancient volcanic composition of quartz porphyry were also the quarry for the retaining walls. Used primarily for recreational activities currently, it was certainly a nice walk down to the beach and good to visit the area again.

Tuesday 16 May 2023

bachstadt arnstadt (10. 746)

While waiting for our dog to recover after surgery at the veterinarian clinic there, H and I took a quick tour of Arnstadt, an old and storied town also known as the Gateway to the Thรผringer Wald due to its location on the northeast corner of the forest, the oldest settlement once in East Germany due to its first documented mention in 704, a candidate for the origin of Bratwurst and Weizen beer outside of Bavaria thanks to a fourteenth century mention, and mostly famously for its native son Johann Sebastian Bach (see previously), who had his first posting in the New Church—now known as the Bachkirche—as organist. 

Granted a charter as a city by Hersfeld Abbey, heavy sanctions were levied against the town for aiding fugitives during the Peasants’ War in the thirteenth century and nearly a hundred rebels were burnt in the market square. 

The main landmark is the remaining tower of the ruin of the Neideck palace, already in disrepair by the end of the reign of the dukes of Schwarzburg by the beginning of the nineteenth century, the rest was bombed into rubble during World War II. The church’s Baroque pipe organ has been restored to its condition and appearance in 1703 when the eighteen year old prodigy first played it.  The monument is pure speculation as no portraits or physical descriptions of Bach and locals refer to the bronze as the ‘Marktflรคtz’—one whose sprawled out in the square—cf, Marktplatz.