Okay, now for an update on my explorations…
On Friday, I went walking around the neighborhood here to see what I could find…
WARNING: Post contains architectural terms and deep nerdiness.
I walked north up Eversbuschstraße for about a mile and then back, passing my bank, a bakery, a supermarket, a (very small, all German) bookstore, and a pharmacy, and got to try buying things and speaking a little German. It was sunny but not too hot, and I felt fine walking, but little did I know I’d made a bad impulsive shoe decision by wearing my flats. They are very comfortable but have hardly any support, and by the time I finished my 3-hour walk I think I’d strained some of my foot muscles, maybe because of the extra tension it takes to keep flats on sometimes. Anyway, the muscles on the bottom and left ankle of my left foot hurt as soon as I got back, and they’ve hurt for three more days without improvement. It’s not regular sore feet, and I probably just needed to stay off them for a couple of days, but as you’ll see, that didn’t exactly happen…
ANYWAY, back to my walk. When I got to about where I wanted to turn around, I saw some church spires, and walked over a block to see my first Evangelisch-lutherische (Lutheran) church, Epiphaniaskirche. It didn’t seem very unique to me, and certainly isn’t very old — it’s probably not that different from an American Lutheran church, but since it’s part of my mission to photographically document all my church-hopping here in Europe, I present:
I like the plain walls and wooden rafters, but the placement of the organ is a little odd, since it makes the altar sit jarringly off-center. But notice the altar sits right against the wall – I know embarrassingly little about Lutheran liturgical practice and architecture, so I wonder, would they say the words of consecration in this church ad orientem? That’s also a pretty modern-looking organ that looks like it was made recently. Every German church I’ve been to so far has an organ.
Then I walked back to the house and went south. Conveniently located only three or four minutes from the house is a Catholic church with a huge cemetery attached called St Martin Friedhof. (Friedhof = “peace-yard” = cemetery.) I stopped in for a closer look…
This (late Gothic) church has a foundation date of 1499, but (as recorded in 1315) there was a late Romanesque church there before this construction. In 817, a church property in Menzing – this neighborhood – was handed over to the bishop of Freising. It would have probably been a “private” aristocratic church – basically a village church supported and owned by a local family. A description of the diocese of Freising in the mid-12th century also describes a village church sitting on a hill in Menzing, overlooking the Wurm River, and surrounded by a cemetery. It would have been smaller then, but the tower seems to have been there.
The front yard around the church is full of old and huge gravestones of various local families. In fact, most of them aren’t that old, and date from the late 19th and early 20th century, with some family members of later generations buried with their relatives up through the 70s, 80s, and even 2000s.
Here is the bridge over the Wurm River, which leads to an even bigger cemetery, which I haven’t gone to see yet.
The chancel and main altar. I like this picture because it shows the modern, stone, free-standing altar in front of the older, fairly* ornate Baroque altarpiece, along with what looks like a Gothic or neo-Gothic tabernacle and what are definitely medieval wall-paintings on the sides of the sanctuary. 500 years of Catholic art history right there… though I’m not very fond of the “primitive”-style minimalist altars, myself. Either way, this church has been well preserved (and restored).
(*FAIRLY ornate, you are saying? If you’ve seen other altarpieces from 16th-19th century Catholic Bavaria, you’ll know what I mean.)
Not such a great photo without flash, but it shows the side altars and the beautiful rib vaults on the ceiling. The main signs of Gothic architecture are pointed arches (notice the yellow arch separating the nave from the chancel), elaborate rib vaults (the branch-like stonework on the ceiling), large windows with lots of tracery (the designs on the window frames), high pointed peaks (on the exterior usually), and “micro-architecture” (where small parts of the building or decoration are made to look like tiny, delicate versions of larger parts, like the way the tabernacle kind of looks like a miniature version of a Gothic tower). Hope you’re taking notes.
The organ and choir loft.
A Baroque crucifix (1686), with Mary’s heart being pierced (Luke 2:35); and Stations of the Cross (1775).
(Actually, okay, here come details based on my shaky German sight-reading of the pamphlets I got in the back: The tabernacle was probably built along with the church in 1499; the murals date from that time or shortly after, and were uncovered during a renovation in 1923. The early Baroque high altar was built in 1614, with some alterations in 1847, 1912, and 1923. The free-standing altar is from 1959. They also had a neo-Gothic pulpit which they took out in 1923. Other original features, including a side altar, stained glass windows, and a baldacchino, are today held in various museums.)
Late medieval churches were colorful, bright, busily decorated places — far from the dark and visually grim places we sometimes imagine that they were. These paintings are of some saints — I THINK the lady on the bottom right is Mary Magdalen, and maybe the one on the bottom left is St Lawrence (is he holding a grill?). I’ll have to go back and take better pictures.
The stained glass (as far as I can gather) was removed and sent to museums. But the window tracery is, I think, original.
I want to go up there.
It’s blocked by the bulletin board, but check out their awesome Blessed Sacrament canopy! This is used for processions.
Okay, moving on. This weekend I went to St Martin’s for church and liked it a lot — just organ music, hymns, and chant. It’s a small church, and so people were sitting on the benches along the side aisles and standing in the back of the nave and in the vestibule. An elderly couple was dressed in their traditional Bavarian outfits (LEDERHOSEN!!!) for reasons I could not quite fathom.
These wayside crosses are everywhere.
SO, I continued on my way down Eversbuschstraße.
The side-street across from the house is called Pfarrer-Grimm-Strasse, named after Father Josef Grimm, a priest who was pastor of this parish for a few years in the late 30s. In April 1945, one day before the Allies liberated his city in Bavaria, he and a local schoolteacher were shot by the SS because they replaced the Nazi flag on the church tower with the Bavarian flag. He left the village, but the soldiers went looking for him and came back without a body. After a search by villagers, his body was found in a ditch in the woods, mutilated and with two shots to the neck, his rosary still in his hand.
There’s also a monument close by — the statue is of a soldier, so I’m not completely sure what it commemorates, but on the drive home from the airport J. (Papa) told me that in the last days of the war, when they were trying to empty out the concentration camps, the “death march” from Dachau (6 kilometers northwest) came down Eversbuschstraße, and he mentioned that there are a couple of memorials along the road. It’s strange to think I’ve walked down the same street almost every day I’ve been here.
I KNOW this memorial, a few kms away near Schloss Blutenburg, is in memory of those victims.
I continued down the bikepath that winds between the city streets, along the Wurm. It was starting to cloud over (dun dun) but it was still beautiful…
I looked around another medieval village church, St George, but it was closed and I couldn’t go in, so I’ll save my blather for when I go again and get to explore it fully…
Finally I arrived outside Blutenburg, for the second time (it goes much slower walking than biking), and IMMEDIATELY it started to rain.
“Oh,” I thought to myself, “I can handle some rain. I’ll just start heading back, and try and stay under the trees. That usually works in Bellingham.” Ha, ha, ha.
So I got good and drenched on the 25-minute walk back, because it started really pouring, and I had no coat, no shelter, no idea when or if the rain would stop, and I was technically supposed to be back at the house by 1pm. Then I walked in the door and they all laughed at me.
My plan was to include Saturday’s trip to Schloss Nyphenburg, but there’s no way that’s happening tonight. So it will have to wait, because tomorrow we are going to PlaymoLand, and I need my rest.
YES. PLAYMOLAND. LIKE LEGOLAND BUT WITH PLAYMOBIL. IS THIS HEAVEN?