Germany: Freiburg Part 1

22 09 2008

A visit to the Black Forest is not complete without a stop in the city of Freiburg, located on the western edge of the Black Forest in southwestern Germany.  Freiburg was one of the highlights of my visit because it is such a unique blend of medieval market town, university village, and modern city.


A view of Freiburg and Münster Cathedral from the Schlossberg.

As reflected in its name, Freiburg was founded in 1120 as a free market town located at an important crossroads between the Mediterranean Sea and the Danube and Rhine Rivers.  Because of this distinction, power struggles over the city’s control were common throughout the middle ages.  Although the city was bombed in WWII, the damaged areas in the city center were rebuilt in the medieval plan.  Freiburg is known primarily for the well respected Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg and as the regional hub for tourism in the Black Forest area.  Freiburg is also considered an environmentally friendly city whose citizens are known for their affinity for cycling and recycling.  The Guardian has an article about just how eco-friendly Freiburg is here.

The best way to see Freiburg’s medieval town center is by foot.  Reflecting both its medieval roots and penchant for eco-friendliness, the city center is a pedestrian- and tram-only zone.  Below is a map of our meandering route through the city center, which includes all the must-sees as well as our favorite cobblestone streets and alleys.  Be sure to click on the “View Larger Map” link, which takes you to the interactive Google map.


View Larger Map

We began our tour of Freiburg at the University, where L is just finishing up her graduate studies and where M graduated a few years ago.  Since we live on different continents, it was great for me to see where L spends all her time.  I actually visited Freiburg twice during my trip, so the photos and tour here are a compilation of both visits.


Main Lecture Hall at the University of Freiburg, located in the Platz der alten Synagoge, across the street from the Stadttheater (A on map).


Stadttheater

While facing the main lecture hall, take the street on the left called Bertoldstraße and head east until you get to Cafe Schmidt, a wonderful bakery well known for its marzipan potatoes.

After drooling over the baked goods and chocolate,  turn right onto Niemensstraße, a tiny street that is full of student hangouts, including a yummy kebab place.  Take this street all the way to the very large Kaiser-Joseph-Straße and then turn left.  Kaiser Joseph Strasse is the main shopping street in Freiburg’s city center and includes all the large German chain stores as well as everything a college student or Freiburger needs.  Watch out for the trams!


People share the street with trams and the Bächle in Freiburg. This photo was taken on Salzstraße.

At this point, you will probably notice the very small and neat gutters (see photo above) running up and down the streets all around this part of Freiburg.  This system of gutters, called Bächle, has constantly flowing water from the Dreisam and was used in the olden days to fight fires and feed livestock.  The Bächle was never used for sewage (under penalty) and you will often see kids playing in them these days.  During the summer, the Bächle also helps keep the city cool.  There is a saying in Freiburg that if you step in a Bächle, you will marry a Freiburger.

Keep going on Kaiser Joseph Strasse for a few blocks north and then turn right onto Münsterstraße.  Head towards the Münster Cathedral (B on map).


Münster Cathedral is located in the Münsterplatz.

Step into the cathedral (free to the public) for views of beautiful stained glass.

If you go to the Münsterplatz on a Saturday before noon, you will be greeted with one of the best outdoor markets in Germany.


A view of the Saturday Markt in Freiburg, looking to the left of Münster Cathedral.

All the fruits and vegetables here are locally grown.  I have found that the produce in Germany has been some of the highest quality I’ve ever had.

Look at all that beautiful squash!

There are several flower vendors, with blossoms each brighter and more colorful than the next.

A market is not complete without the encased meat and butcher wagon.

There are also several bratwurst stands at the market.  Apparently, curry on bratwurst is very popular among Germans.  Who would have thought?  We had some bratwurst for breakfast.  Yum!

We went to Germany just at the end of their strawberry season.  These were some of the sweetest and juiciest strawberries I’ve ever had.  The fruit that look like small red grapes are johannesberries.  Most berry vendors also sell homemade jam.

The market on the other side of the cathedral was filled with craft stands.


The Historisches Kaufhaus (Historic Marketplace) is the red building.

Cafes spilled out from the buildings into the market.

Next: Germany: Freiburg Part 2

In Part 2, we will continue onto Augustinerplatz, the Schwabentor Gate, and Martinstor.

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24 09 2008
Germany: Freiburg Part 2 « Travels with Sandy

[…] Germany: Freiburg Part 2 24 09 2008 This post about Freiburg is continued from Germany: Freiburg Part 1. […]

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