Friday, July 20, 2012

Freiburg Altstadt

Before this blog leaves Freiburg, it is worth showing a little of the Altstadt (old city) which is largely car-free.  Freiburg is amazing for many things - its leadership in environmental technology, the people's revolt against their feudal masters back in the 13th century, the spectacular cathedral built between 1200 and 1530 (you can see the change in architectural style over time from one end to the other), and the beautiful old city, bodering the Black Forest, rebuilt to the original street plan and architectural style after heavy bombing in World War II.

Narrow, cobbled, car-free shopping streets, with "Castle Mountain" in the background

Wisteria growing over the top of the street

Freiburg Altstadt streets have two distinctive characteristics.  Many of the streets have little freshwater streams (Bächle) running along the street (sometimes you see children pulling along a little wooden boat while they walk).  And secondly, the cobblestones are not so much cobblestones, but pebble mosaic.

Bächle, bike parking, and footpath cobbles

A major street, with tram tracks to the right of the Bächle, and inlaid patterns of stones
Detail of the street above.  The stones are river stones from the Rhine.
 We watched someone making a repair to the street.  He had a small pile of pebbles, from which he selected one the right size and then used a hammer and chisel to make it exactly the right size and shape.  Then he tapped it into place gently with the hammer.  Such craftsmanship was fascinating to watch.

Outside many shops and buildings are a mosaic indicating the current or past usage

The cobblestones are a bit of a discouragement to riding and do slow you down.  The old city is mostly pedestrian, with people walking their bikes, but some streets used as bike routes and with bike parking.

Mandatory cyclist shot, with bike parking corral behind

The cathedral square with the historical merchants hall (built in 1520) and, to the right in yellow, Hotel Oberkirch (established 1738)

The cathedral on the left - in the 1970s this square was used as a car park and now a lively market in the mornings and gathering and eating place in the afternoons (no, I don't know how I keep getting people-less photos)

A picture taken especially for Omar - an ancient bollard, there to protect the wall of the cathedral  :)


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