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From: Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

Muensterplatz, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

The Münsterplatz is the physical and spiritual heart of Freiburg's Altstadt. The Münster (left) was begun in 1200 A.D. and took more than 300 years to complete. It was a parish church until 1821, when Freiburg acquired an archbishop and the church became a cathedral.

Whether by luck or divine intervention, the Münster was undamaged by the many wars and seiges that took place over the centuries, including the Allied bombing that destroyed much of Freiburg's Altstadt on November 27, 1944.

In the distance, behind the old guardhouse known as the Alte Wache (now a showroom for Baden wines), you can see the Schlossberg, which is part of Germany's Black Forest.

Here are more photos with captions:

Muenster, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

This picture shows the south side of the Münster, which acquired a Renaissance vestibule in 1620 (the year that the Mayflower and the Pilgrims arrived in America).


You can ascend the Münster's tower for a small fee, and the view is well worth the climb. (In addition to looking down on the Münsterplatz, you can look up and see the sky through the cathedal's latticework stone spire.

Alte Wache

This view from the Münster tower shows the Alte Wache (with outdoor tables where you can sample regional wines) and a modern building at the eastern end of the Münsterplatz, where bombing destroyed existing houses in World War II.


Back down at ground level, the Münster's entrance is a backdrop for vendors on market days (Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.)


The Münstermarkt, or cathedral market, gets underway at the crack of dawn as farmers, handicraft vendors, etc. arrive on the square.

Bratwurst and Waffel wagons

The food vendors are among the first to reach and the last to leave the Münsterplatz on market days.

Copyright FWTM   (FWTM)

The busiest section of the market is on the north side of the Münster. On Saturday, when suburbanites come into town to shop, the crowds can seem overwhelming.

Farmer's market produce 

copyright FWTM  (FWTM)

Produce, much of it direct from the farm, is just one good reason to shop at the Münstermarkt. (In spring, during Spargelsaison, asparagus is the main draw. If you don't have a way to cook it yourself, you'll find plenty of opportunities to dine on Spargel in Freiburg's restaurants.)

Stadtbücherei Freiburg im Breisgau

Stadtbucherei logoThe Stadtbücherei, or public library, is a good example of the buildings that were constructed on the Münsterplatz to replace houses that were destroyed in World War II. The library is in character with the surrounding architecture, but it makes no pretense of being an old building.


Madonna and child

When you're exploring the Münsterplatz, take care to notice the details, such as the Georgsbrunnen (top) and the Madonna and child on a building façade.

Bächle with chidlren, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany   (FWTM)

Watch your feet when you're walking in the Altstadt: The streets are lined with Bächle, or water channels.

Baechle with duck decoys, Freiburg im Breisgau, GermanyThese have existed in Freiburg since medieval times, and no one can say for sure why they existed. They may have been created for fire protection, to carry away sewage, or even to provide cooling in summer. (They're also a handy place to anchor duck decoys if you're a shopkeeper with a sense of humor.)

Many of the Bächle were paved over in modern times, but when Freiburg converted most of the Altstadt into a pedestrian zone in the 1970s and 1980s, the Bächle were reopened.

Bächle with cover during Freiburg im Breisgau Christmas MarketToday, some of the Bächle are covered with wooden planks during special events, such as the Christmas Market and wine festivals, when visitors are more likely to fall into the Bächle and get hurt or soaked.

(We saw a young man step into the water on a December day in the Münsterplatz; his foot emerged wet but unhurt.)

wheelchair icon in cobblestone pavement, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

bishop's hat pavement sign, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germanycoffee shop sign in cobblestones, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

Freiburg's pavements are decorated with icons made of cobblestones in contrasting colors.

In Livable Cities Observed, Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard and Henry L. Lennard describe what happened when the Altstadt was pedestrianized several decades ago:

"The city paid very special attention to the repaving of the streets and squares. Kerbs and asphalt were removed from all streets, and natural stone paving--reddish quartzite, black basalt, granite and red porphyry and pebbles from the river Rhein--were used almost without exception in the medieval city center.

"Indeed, the floor of the city has been treated as the city's 'carpet.' It is a work of art, and exhibits fine craftmanship. Geometric and flower designs, historic, cultural, and business symbols, executed by traditional artisans working with the different coloured stones, pebbles and mosaics emphasize the unique character of each street, stimulate a sense of history, and prompt fantasy and imagination."

Holocaust memorial markers, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

Other markers in Freiburg's cobblestones serve a different purpose: to remind citizens and visitors of the Holocaust and its victims.

These two brass memorial markers honor Berthold and Elise Weil, who were deported from Freiburg in 1940 and murdered in the Auschwitz concentration camp two years later.

Augustinerplatz, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

The Augustinerplatz is one of Freiburg's important squares. It lies a couple of blocks south of the Münsterplatz, near the southern boundary of the pedestrian zone.

Augustinermuseum cloister, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

The most important building on the Augustinerplatz is the Augustinermuseum, which occupies a former church and monastery that date back to 1300 A.D.

The city-owned museum emphasizes art and historic objects from Baden and the Upper Rhine, and it has an especially fine collection of medieval church art. Its displays include the originals of sculptures from the Münster.

Fisherau, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany   (FWTM)

Fisherau and its neighboring streets of Gerberau and Insel run alongside a canal on the southern edge of the Altstadt. This district is packed with interesting little shops, restaurants, and beer gardens.

Houses in Gerberau, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany   (FWTM)

These houses are in Gerberau, just west of the Augustinerplatz.

Haus zum Steinin Bruecklin

The Haus zum Steinin Brücklin is on Insel.

The house dates back to 1460, and one wing is built over the fast-moving waters of the canal.

Gasthof zum Rauhen Mann, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

Insel is also home to the Gasthaus zum Rauhen Mann...

Restaurant and beer garden on Insel, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany   (FWTM)

...and to outdoor restaurants such as this beer garden, which overlooks the canal.

Freiburg photo

As you walk around old Freiburg, you'll see occasional surprises--such as this 19th Century building, where the term "outdoor seating" has a unique meaning.

Statue photo

This modern statue is on a wall overlooking the canal that runs from Metzgerau to Insel.

Colombischlössle and Colombipark, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany   (FWTM)

Freiburg's parks and other green spaces include the Colombipark, where the Colombischlössle (Colombi Palace) houses the Museum for Ancient and Early History.

The museum is worth visiting just to see the interior of the restored palace.

Schwabentor, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany   (FWTM)

The Schwabentor, a 13th century gate to the Altstadt, houses the Zinnfigurenklause, a museum of dioramas with tin or pewter figures.

Martinstor, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany   (FWTM)

Another medieval gate, the Martinstor (shown here behind the Münster's spire) has a McDonald's fast-food restaurant at ground level.

View from Schlossberg, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

For great views of the city, climb up the Schlossberg, a hill just to the east of the Altstadt. 

The Schlossberg, which is covered by a huge public park, is Freiburg's gateway to the Scharzwald or Black Forest.

Schlossbergturm sign, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

Follow the directional signs to the Schlossbergturm, or Schlossberg tower, an observation tower on top of the hill.

Schlossbergturm, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany 

Schlossbergturm spiral staircase, Freiburg im Breisgau, GermanySchlossbergturm crow's nest, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

The Schlossbergturm opened in 2002. It consists of massive wooden posts around a steel cage and spiral staircase. On top, a smaller staircase leads to a crow's nest that offers a 360-degree view of Freiburg im Breisgau and the Black Forest.

Photos marked "FWTM" are copyright © Freiburg Management Marketing.

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