Posts Tagged ‘medieval architecture’

Almost nine months ago, I left Germany… and my nostalgia is reaching the point where I want to relive some of my time there by making at least one of the posts I never got around to.

By now, all of the mundane anxieties about reading maps and meeting trains have faded into the deep mist of the German forest* and all that’s left is golden, rosy memories of quaint medieval towns like…



*NOTE: I didn’t find German forests particularly misty; it’s just that I’ve been gone from Germany for so long now that when I try and picture it all I can see are Caspar David Friedrich paintings.



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I am skipping all kinds of stuff just to show you what I did this past weekend! I saw my first actual CASTLE RUINS.

This is Castle Ehrenberg (in Reutte, Austria), which lies on the Via Claudia Augusta, the Roman road that stretched from Venice to Augsburg. It’s part of a complex of fortifications — this castle, from the 13th century with multiple additions to the 17th century; an 18th century fort on the hill just above it; a 13th-14th century “klause” or hermitage guarding the road (the Via Claudia Augusta) through the valley; and a smaller 16th century fort on the opposite hill across the valley. This gorge along the River Lech was a strategic point from the Romans on up, and the Romans actually had a fort down in the valley, in Breitenwang, just next to the town of Reutte.

If that’s a little confusing, no worries… just look at the pretty pictures. (more…)

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So this past weekend, I went to France to partake in that most medieval of Christian pastimes: a pilgrimage… we walked from Notre Dame de Paris to Chartres Cathedral, a distance of about 90-95 kilometers. But I still have other posts to finish, that I don’t want to get completely behind on, so you’ll have to wait a bit to hear about it (or you can, you know, talk to me personally, on email and such. I still have email. And Facebook.)

Until then:

The Germans entering the symbol of France.

I’m compelled to link you to the intro sequence of what is probably my favorite anti-medieval medieval movie of all time: The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Disneyfied Victor Hugo could not be anything but anti-medieval, really, but there are still enough great moments in this movie that it remains a sentimental favorite. SANCTUARY! SANCTUARY! Who is the monster and who is the man??

(And if you want to see which classic Latin texts Alan Menken used in his score, check out this cool version of the final scene, which plays the score louder than the dialogue and provides subtitles. Dies irae, O salutaris hostia, and more.)

Part of the northern facade of Chartres Cathedral. If you want to learn more about Chartres, you could watch this documentary (in 5 parts) that I uploaded a few years ago. It has its sillier moments, and downplays some of the more robustly Christian symbolism for a more palatable “world spirituality” emphasis, but that in itself is not uninteresting, and they include lots of cool stuff about how medieval cathedrals were built and why they were built. It starts getting really good in the third section, so hang on through the more blah-blah spiritual-tourism parts.

Okay, now to go back to work on my Oxford post…!

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Actually, though, before going on to post about Oxford, I want to backtrack to post about these churches from my first day.

To forestall possible confusion:

Westminster Abbey (aka the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster) is the very old monastery church, in the Gothic style, belonging to the Anglicans. You have seen it on TV.

Westminster Cathedral is the seat of the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, a turn of the century neo-Byzantine building, belonging to the Catholics. You probably haven’t heard of it unless you are an English Catholic.  (more…)

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On my second day Katherine was able to come with me, which was much more fun and less intimidating. (I sort of like and sort of don’t like the riskiness of traveling in a strange city on my own…) But there was still risk involved — for instance, when I kept crossing the street and forgetting which way to look for cars, and was nearly hit by a bus. Killed by a double-decker bus in London, what a way to go.


We went to see the London (or Brompton) Oratory, which meant…

We were in Newman country. (more…)

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… a quick overview of six little churches I visited in the suburban outskirts of Munich.


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Two weekends ago I went to see a real, true-blue Romanesque church, one of the few in the area around Munich. (Bavaria was caught up in the love of Baroque Catholic architecture, so most of its churches, even its small village churches, were rebuilt or at least redecorated in the Baroque era.)

I had never gotten around to researching outlying churches, but one of my language exchange partners, Peter, knew some places already. He has an interest in local history and has tracked down or accidentally discovered some of these very old churches.

(My interest in local history means I go to the Whatcom Museum and look at their (admittedly cool) photo exhibits of the logging days and other things, around a hundred or hundred and fifty years old. His interest in history means he goes to 900 year old churches. But I’m not bitter.)

So anyway: this church. (more…)

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