Back to Esslingen; this is the Marktplatz. I veered to the left to check out the two other churches located along the platz.
St Paul Münster (foreground) and the Frauenkirche (undergoing construction, on the right). Don’t worry, the Frauenkirche was closed and St Paul wasn’t that interesting, so these won’t be as long as the last one. (Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the other medieval church in the center, the Franciscan church.)
On my way to St Paul I wandered through a little courtyard with a playground. At least some of these buildings used to be cloisters.
Ugh I love these buildings.
Inside St Paul Münster. The designation “Münster” (English “minster“) has changed over time, but both words come from “monasterium” and originally referred to churches owned or staffed by a group of monks or priests living in community and following a canon or rule. This church was founded in 1233 but not finished until later in the century, and is the oldest preserved mendicant church in Germany. It was a church for the Dominicans (ie., mendicant or “begging” friars, like the Franciscans, who didn’t rely on landed property for income like parish priests or regular monastics did) in Esslingen. Back then it was dedicated to St Albert the Great.
When Esslingen was reformed, the church was stripped of most of her art and decoration by iconoclasts. It was used for Protestant worship until 1802, when secularization turned the church into a warehouse for food storage. In 1861 the Catholic Church in Esslingen bought the building (for 15,000 guilders – hee! guilders!) and it is now the main Catholic church in the town. The old cloisters for the Dominicans (the buildings I posted pictures of above) were used as an orphanage and school.
This being the only Catholic church in the old town, I tried to find the times for the All Saints Mass, but it was midafternoon and they had all already happened, or started too late for me to get back home. Bummer.
A very modern Stations of the Cross.
Here he is, Albert the Great! D’awww. I love Dominicans.
“Reduktionsgotik” is a German term describing churches built (usually in the Empire, ie Germany) by the mendicant preaching orders – more simple and less ambitious or decorative.
God the Father holding his Son.
Interesting statues – Paul in the middle and the Four Evangelists. Not sure when they’re from.
When these modern stained glass windows were installed in the 60s, the townspeople hated the “perverse, infernal color” of the blue and green, so they had to be painted over in a more subdued shade. Yay for regular people not putting up with ugly modern art in their churches!!
Late medieval statues of Mary and Christ…
Actually, this Pieta is modern. But I think it’s quite nice.
Here’s one of the consecration crosses on the wall.
In the northern aisle there’s another Stations of the Cross that I enjoyed taking very-close-up pictures of…
ONWARD! Still have a lot of ground to cover! This will be a long post!
Here is the eastern end of the Frauenkirche, built in the 1300s and 1400s. Look at the size of those windows! And look on top of the buttresses – are those gargoyles??
Yes they are!
Absolutely impeccable late Gothic. Swoon! Only statues near to hand (like the one that should be in those niches under the mini-pinnacles on the right, next to the door) were destroyed by iconoclasm, it looks like.
St Christopher, carrying baby Jesus across the river on his back.
Here are some Old Testament guys – prophets, and one of them is a king, so it must be David or Solomon.
The Marien portal, on the south side – here you can see the Nativity (on the bottom), the Death of Mary next (note the symmetry; both these scenes take place in bed), and then her Coronation in Heaven. Mary is the figure of the Church – like her, we are supposed to give birth to Christ in our hearts, hand over our souls in trust when we die, and be rewarded in Heaven. The artist who sculpted these figures did not leave his mark and is unknown.
Hoo boy! This portal shows the Last Judgment. It was carved sometime in the early 1400s by Ulrich von Ensingen, the master builder who directed the construction of the church for forty years, from 1400-1440. Talk about a life’s work.
You might want to view this in the large size by clicking on the image! Christ judges the world with his double-edged sword (Rev. 1:16) while Mary and John the Baptist, the biggest-name humans, beg mercy for their fellow man. Below, St Peter gets ready to unlock the gates of Heaven with his Keys, leading a group of the saved, while demons chain up a group of the damned and pull them into the mouth of that dragon. Notice there are bishops and priests and regular laymen in both groups. No matter who you are, you better watch out.
I couldn’t go inside, like I said, but apparently it looks like this:
Okay, we are DONE with churches! Happy?
I kept walking west past the Frauenkirche and found this walking path that went right up into the hills and vineyards…
An old gatehouse, sigh!
Um, the view started to get awesome.
And the sun started to set.
After a while I got lost (of course) and wandered around through some wealthy-looking neighborhoods on the hill, looking for the castle, but somehow missing it entirely. Eventually I got scared of going over the hill and into some different valley, so I started heading down the hill whichever way I could. Like a little path in between people’s gardens.
I did make my way back to the old town without much trouble. This red-pink building is the Altes Rathaus (Old Townhall). In the cafe on the left, I bought some super cheap but delicious gelato and continued my walking tour…
I just love all the little things you can find on the walls in old cities. But this is curious – 1587, so, some fifty years after Esslingen was reformed – but here we have a wall shrine/memorial to St Catherine: “Soli Deo Gloria” (“To God alone the glory”). I am puzzling over this. Maybe I’m just missing something.
The Hafenmarkt… at this point I was really running out of daylight but I couldn’t find the path up to the castle and I found myself right next to the city museum, so I went in and spent longer inside than I wish I would have, but that’s how it goes…
Bronze swords from the Bronze Age! The Urnfeld culture, to be exact. These are from 1050-950 B.C.
This is a plaster cast of a plague victim, exhumed from under St Dionys Stadtkirche in 1960 during renovation. The victim died sometime between 1348 and 1502. The Black Death came three times to Esslingen – in 1348-1350, 1490-97, and 1500-02 – and it’s estimated that during the biggest outbreak in the mid-14th century, it killed half of Europe. They didn’t have the medical knowledge to stop the spread of contagion, but they thought to bury the victims in lime to keep the corpses from infecting the living. So they buried them all below the church.
VERY cool to see some manuscripts. This is from 1475, the author a theologian from Köln (Cologne), and it’s a commentary on St Thomas Aquinas. The Gothic bookhand is actually very clear and easy to read. Thank you, Dr. Gavitt!
This is a really crisp hand, but it has more abbreviations, so it’s harder to read without notes.
Now THIS is awesome! This is a facsimile of the 777 testament of Abbot Fulrad, bequeathing the future-St Dionys to the Abbey of St Denis. It’s in Merovingian script and there is no way on earth I can read even a single word. … Although actually, you CAN read toward the bottom, “Ego folradus” — I, Fulrad, and then his signature. And down at the bottom the witnesses have “signum +” before all of their names. SO COOOOOOL.
It was getting almost too dark to take pictures, but I’d found the way up to the castle at last…
It was uphill. Really, really uphill.
Frederick II elevated Esslingen to city-status in 1219, which is when they started to build the walls. The castle is really a 16th century addition to the city walls, but it is still very cool. You can see pictures taken in daylight here.
One of the towers had lost its roof and all its floors at some point, and you could walk down all the way inside – but it was closed for the night, I guess. I got a picture at least.
Yep, you’ve got the idea by now.
Then I walked back down to the city INSIDE THE WALL, because it was those walls that were like a covered walkway that you could defend from the inside. I loved it.
And that is the end. Thank you Esslingen!