Archive for March, 2010

Lingen is a Town the Ems River

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Lingen is a town on the Ems River in Lower Saxony, Germany which accounts for 56,107 inhabitants (as of August 2009), including second homes, making it the largest city of the district. Lingen was first mentioned as “Linga” in the Middle Ages (975 A.D.), when it was documented that Emperor Otto II transferred to Bishop Rudolf von Osnabrück the goods in Linga as a “fief”, or source of income, meaning the bishop would live off the returns of the Lingen people.

Here are some of Lingen’s historical highlights:

1366 – achieved city status (confirmed by Nicholas II Graf von Tecklenburg)

1394 – the oldest evidence for the Lingen coat of arms.

1498 – the county of Lingen arises

1548- a disastrous fire destroyed large parts of the city

1605 – Lingens recaptured by the Spanish commander Ambrosio Spinola

1697 – the founding of the university (Gymnasium academicum), by William III, Prince of Orange

1702 – the city and county of Lingen possessed by Prussia

During WWII, Lingen was the location of a major hospital of the Army Reserve, to which belonged also hospitals for prisoners of war in the POW camps in the Emsland region. After WWII ended in 1945, Lingen belonged to the British zone of occupation. The British Military Administration established a Displaced Persons camp. Most of the DPs were freed Polish slave laborers from the Emsland.

1975 began the transformation of downtown, and, in the present, the historical Old Town is usually full of pedestrians, like on the day I was walking around! Lingen is now also known for its nuclear power plants and for its beautiful nature alongside the Elms River.

I started my walkabout just trying get out of our venue, the Emslandhallen Lingen! As you can see, the building is very long…the left side is toward town, and our bus was parked on the back RIGHT side. Of course I didn’t know this when I began walking, but when it was all over, I had circled the building and finally got onto the main street…

By the way, today’s venue has hosted many shows, including numerous cow auctions through the Jahre Cow Club Festival…so there was usually the lingering aroma of cow manure once we got off the bus! Hah! I guess no matter how far this country-born girl travels, the manure always catches up:)

Approaching the main shopping area of Lingen’s downtown, I came across an interesting piece of art in the middle of a driving circle…each large tube of water is bubbling inside! If you squint, you can see some of the bubble specks toward the lower right area. It was cool to see moving water in such cold weather…

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The first historical site I found was pretty cool, and probably the most exciting of the day! Y’all have learned by now that I love all that old castle-like stuff, and though I didn’t find anything out about the gateway (pictured below), what it led too more than made up for it…I love the pic below because I imagine the gate used to mark an entryway into the fortress which used to be here…

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The fortress of Lingen Castle was constructed at the beginning of the 13th century by the Counts of Tecklenburg. The construction of the actual Powder Tower, pictured above AND below, was around the beginning of the 15th century. At the time of completion, the tower actually stood protected within Lingen Castle. Inside the tower was, as was customary, stored gunpowder for the defense of the city.

In 1607, a fire broke out inside the fortress. A powerful explosion occurred, which claimed many lives, as well as ripped off large parts of the fortress and the Powder Tower. During WWII, the basement, the only part of the building not disturbed by the 1607 explosion, was used by the students of the nearby castle school as an air raid shelter. By the year 1961, the Powder Tower lay in ruins in downtown Lingen, overgrown with plants and trees.

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During the 1960s, the Kivelingssektion (The Bachelors Association of Lingen, founded in 1372), began the reconstruction of the Powder Tower, however a complete and faithful reconstruction could not be achieved. Therefore, the project limited its reconstruction to two floors built over the old, intact cellar. The Kivelingssektion (also called “The Guelph”, which means farmers) are the landlords of the Powder Tower. Since the tower’s 1960s reconstruction, the current Lingen section, which has existed since 1954, holds their meetings inside, which includes approximately 20 members.

In the pic below, you can see the Guelphs’ motto on the tower gate, which, loosely translated, says “Once a Welfe, Always a Welfe!”

On the subjecte of the title “Welfe”, here’s a fun set of factoids, courtesy of our tour manager, Arvid:

The Guelphs were named after the Royal House of Guelph-Welf of the Kingdom of Hanover. Grace Kelly, a famous American actress married the King of Monacco, and one of her daughters, Caroline, is married to the Prince of Welf, making her the Princess of Hanover. If there was still a king of Germany, Caroline’s 3rd husband, Prince Ernst August of Hanover, would be the present king. I think it’s cool that Grace Kelly’s daughter was almost a queen:)

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Today, besides being used as the Guelph meeting place, the Powder is used for other events such as:

  • Turmfest (every year for Pentecost)
  • Exhibitions
  • a site on the Lingen city tours

Next up the road is the St. Boniface Church (also called “St. Bonifatius”), which is the largest and oldest (still existing) Catholic Church in Lingen, built between 1832 and 1836. The tower was cultivated in 1905 and the “Chorapsis”, or choir annex was completed in 1910. DSC03203.jpg

In the entrance of the church is the neo-classical organ loft. Originally, the organ in 1836 and built by the builder Brinkmann from Herford. It has been expanded and restored many times since then, and presently the church holds concerts which feature this well-known Fischer + Kramer organ.

DSC03214.jpg Here’s the most interesting “Stations of the Cross” relief in my view… DSC03223.jpg

From this angle, you can see the imposing 3 naves in the classical style, built after the model of an ancient basilica.

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There is also a St. Bonifatius Hospital in Lingen, which I happened to pass and, though I didn’t see any signs on it, happened to take a picture of it just in case…

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Continuing on my strolling through town.

..what’s this? Another church so close??? Baroque Lutheran Holy Cross Church, built from 1733 to 1737 and expanded in 1888 in the Romanesque Revival style, is integrated into the attractive architectural ensemble of the University Square. It is the oldest Lutheran church in the Emsland region and represents a bit of architectural rebellion, due to the fact that it’s not built in the Christian Orthodox tradition (entering a church built from west to east), but instead aligned from north to south. DSC03232.jpg The church is an important meeting place for lovers of sacred music in the Emsland region. The “Lingener Cross Church concerts” are known far beyond the boundaries of the Lingen.

Also worth seeing are the Evangelical Reformed Church at Kirchstraße (pictured below). Uh huh, a third church smooshed into this relatively small downtown! Ladies, gentlemen, and reading children, my research uncovered many websites which probably talk about this church, yet NOT ONE OF THEM was in English. It’s been a rarity to not dig up English language info on one of the sites I come across, but here is one of those examples. Sorry readers…but as a substitute, here is a bit of history on the Evangelical Reformed Church of Germany:

While in many parts of Germany in the 19th century the Lutheran and Reformed churches decided to form united churches, the two confessions continued to exist side by side in the former kingdom of Hanover, when Hanover became part of Prussia. In 1882 the Reformed congregation was permitted by the king of Prussia to found an autonomous Evangelical-Reformed church in the Province of Hanover. Reformed congregations from other provinces became part of this church. Much later, in 1988, the Evangelical-Reformed Church in Bavaria also united with this church. Today this church consists of 142 congregations with over 200,000 members spread all over Germany.

So there ya go! DSC03235.jpg I enjoyed the “old look” of this building from the outside…though I didn’t have time to go in, I was very happy to stop and stare for a moment. When I began my walkabout, I had no idea I would come across multiple distinguished churches, all relatively large for their surroundings…and I couldn’t see any of their towers from our venue, so it was truly a pleasant surprise!

After unknowingly circling the outskirts of the center of town, I finally entered the Lingen Marktplatz and promptly saw the Rathaus Lingen. The historic town hall is hard to miss, placed in quite the dominating position at the head of the open area of the marktplatz. Rathaus Lingen was erected in 1555 and rebuilt in 1663 on the same site. There originally used to be an open court bower where the current porch is now. You can also see the Lingen coat of arms displayed just below the belfry and clock. The bell chime in the belfry was established by the “Kivelingen”…those same fun bachelors who are landlords of the Powder Tower! DSC03238.jpg I saw similar stepped gables on Meppen’s town hall, and (don’t tell Lingen!) I like Meppen’s more! These particular stepped gables on Rathaus Lingen (I prefer the term “cat stairs”) were fashioned during the building’s reconstruction in 1663. The town hall is considered the symbol of the city, and now serves representative purposes as well as hosts civil weddings.

Just beyond the Rathaus Lingen is this fountain with humorous characters created by Hanns Joachim Klug. I think my favorite one is the character sticking his tongue out towards the right…I can only imagine how the water falls out from him during the warm months! DSC03239.jpg Just beyond the fountain, towards the right, you can see a potentially historical building of grey and cream brick…

and I was right to think it was especially important!… DSC03243.jpg The markeplatz is dominated by gabled houses, but the one that caught my eye is right at home in this newsletter: It’s the House of Kivelinge (those crazy bachelor farmers again!), founded in 1583, and also one of the oldest houses in Lingen. Woo-hoo! Day-Ninja McSkillz scores again! (that’s me today, by the way!)

OK, back to the venue for soundcheck… DSC03246.jpg Today, some of the cast is trying to replicate the strong, flexible ways of Circus Samurai Travis… DSC03253.jpg First Rodney tries… DSC03249.jpg Then Brandy says, “Step aside…I’ll show you how it’s done!” (That was paraphrased, just in case she challenges the quote later!)… DSC03254.jpg And Brandy gets only a little further than Rodney did! Good work everyone…take 5…oh yeah, and maybe check some mics while we’re gathered here! DSC03257.jpg The big news regarding this particular show was that I RAMMED my shin into the “Thriller” coffin backstage after “Beat It”…I was returning to my usual nest on the stairs backstage right, it was especially dark there, and I collided with the coffin with all the muster of a diva working her exit…lots of velocity there! It made a loud BANG that all the band members heard, yet they dismissed it quickly since no scream or further crashes followed. I was a TROOPER!!! I grinned and bore it through the rest of Act 1, then during the break, I layed down on the floor behind the set, Tech-Hero-of-the-Day Marios delivered a plastic bag of snow to my shin, and I rested my leg on the “Billie Jean” box…so the new rule is that if you ram your shin into the “Thriller” box, you get to prop your shin up on the “Billie Jean” box…it’s only fair! DSC03260.jpg My shin had a huge goose egg on it immediately after impact, which almost made me cry when I first saw it (I rarely injure myself past a little cut or bruise), but I stayed strong for the sake of my show make up, and, thanks to the fresh snow and a few Ibuprofen, the swelling was gone by bedtime. I am only left with a little scab that’s healing nicely.

So thanks, Lingen, for another interesting tour story, and for a great audience as usual!

More to come..sooner or later:)

Love to you all!

~Jenn


Have a Day off in Meppen

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Meppen, Germany is one of our day-off towns, where we stayed in a local hotel for about 24 hours, then drove to our next show venue. Meppen has approximately 35,400 inhabitants and is situated at the intersection of the Hase and Ems Rivers. The district town of the administrative district “Emsland”, Meppen stems from the word Mappe, meaning “delta“. Formerly a fortified town, Meppen boasts 12 centuries of history. The first documented mention of Meppen is in 834, in a deed of donation by Frankish emperor Louis the Pious, transferring a missionary establishment of that name to the abbey of Corvey. Here’s a brief walk through some of Meppen’s historical highlights:

945 — Emperor Otto the Great grants the town the rights to mint coins and to collect tolls, followed in 946 by market rights.

1252 — Meppen becomes part of the Niederstift Münster.

1360 — Meppen is granted the right to build city fortifications by Bishop Adolf of Münster, and thereby, town rights. Over the next three centuries until 1660, Meppen is built up as a fortified town.

1762 — At the end of the Seven Years’ War, the fortifications are demolished. However, some walls remain standing today.

1803 — Meppen becomes the capital of the dukedom of Arenberg.

1811 — Meppen is incorporated into the First French Empire as a cantonal seat.

1813 — 1814 — Occupation by Prussia.

1866 — Hanover becomes a province of Prussia.

1946 — The state of Prussia is abolished after the Second World War. Meppen becomes part of the newly created Land of Lower Saxony.

The Poker Hotel in Meppen would have been more satisfying for me if A) I wasn’t so sore and cranky this particular morning, B) my TV worked, C) free Internet was available, and D) the walk to my room wasn’t OUTSIDE of the main building…

…around to the left and all the way back behind the main building…

to the left AWAY from the main building…

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…up a random driveway…

and even…yes…UPSTAIRS in this cottage-style building.

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Now, like I said, I was sore and cranky, and also must trek through the snow, dragging 2 suitcases, my backpack, and my pillow all that way PLUS up a narrow set of stairs. Oh, did I mention my hip still hurt? Man, this was not my morning. I was not a happy Jenn…so I slept until dinner time…Not JUST because I was in a bad mood, not JUST because I was in pain, not JUST because I had no free Internet, but ALSO because I had no TV to distract me from my poor physical status and no Internet! I know, complaints galore…well if I was on my honeymoon, the room would have been FABULOUS! I mean, the bathroom was huge and well stocked with towels, and the temperature of the room was good…how ’bout that for a positive attitude? :) I just can’t yet get over the odds that the injured and arthritic females of the tour end up in the most difficult room to reach. However, since we weren’t the only ones with issues (the “old men” of the tour had to lug their luggage up at least 3 floors), I guess I WILL let this go…soon:)

So around 4, I finally got up, did my hair and makeup, and joined LaTosha for dinner at 6 in the hotel restaurant. Tej’ai and Travis joined us and it was a nice evening away from the Honeymoon Suite. I returned to my room to watch “National Treasure” and, since there was nothing else to do, even went through all the DVD’s special features, decoding hieroglyphics and everything! Yeah, Meppen was rockin’ for me!

The next morning I felt much better, and set out 2 hours before our bus departure, to walkabout Meppen. Across the street from our hotel is the Gustav-Adolf-Kirche, which has been Meppen’s evangelical church for over 150 years.

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Construction was from 1856-1858, and temporary renovations began 100 years later, due to WWII damage. After the most recent reconstruction of the church was finished in 1966, only the tower remained from the original design.

Up the street is the “Hase Lifting Bridge” which leads to the center of town…

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Present-day Meppen represents a commercial, administrative and industrial center, situated on a landscape that is crisscrossed by large and small streams, and, therefore, many bridges. This lift bridge, or drawbridge, is an important link between the inner-west of the Evangelical Church and the Old City which includes the town’s train station, post office, schools, and many residential areas. Since the Middle Ages, there has been a point of access to the fortified Meppen where today’s lift bridge is. In the beginning, it was a wooden bridge with a moveable flap, thanks to the needs of the military. Later, the flap was used primarily as a passage for vessels during the periods of higher water levels. This bridge was no longer needed after the completion of the Dortmund-Ems Kanal (DEK) in 1899. A high-altitude pedestrian bridge was added to the structure in 1905, but that bridge quickly became insufficient for Meppen’s needs by the 1920s. In 1930/31 the predecessor to the Hase Lifting Bridge was constructed, called the “Brückengradiente”. The present bridge only finished it’s last technical installments a few years ago, which includes pedestrian windows at each end so that people can “view the technology”. The present bridge has preserved a piece of the “Brückengradiente” at the site, since it had been deemed a historical landmark due to the technological advances of its time. I guess it wasn’t historically landmarkish enough, though, to survive the modern Meppen world, since it was replaced, despite it’s status, with the Hase bridge!

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Walking past the bridge, I turned left instead of going straight into the center of town. I decided to follow a pleasant wintry path along the Hase River…

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Just up ahead on the path was another bridge overlooking a windmill! I think this is the first one I’ve seen here!

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Here’s a close-up…

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Meppen’s slogan is: “green city – City on the Water”…I have heard that Germany is absolutely breathtaking in all it’s greenness, so if Meppen actually calls itself “green city”, I would love to see what sights like this romantic, tree-lined path would look like in the spring!…

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The tree-lined path veers right, over another charming bridge, which will take me back to town…DSC03157.jpg

This bridge is sheltering ducks this morning…I will never get how they can be so happy in such chilling water!!!

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Reentering civilization, the first sight is this beautiful, late-Romanesque church, “Katholische Propsteikirche St. Vitus”…

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This impressive Propsteikirche is unusually large for the time period it was built, as well as the area. The church as been associated with the title, “Provost”, which refers to old age, the size, and the importance of the parish, and the Catholic Parish of St. Vitus appropriately lives up to this title as a substantial landmark in historical Old Town.

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Originally on this site was on a mission belonging to the peasantry of Mepen. The citizens and the residents of the Meppen parish church erected their own wooden church, which also served as a resting and supply space for mission trips to Friesland. “Katholische Propsteikirche St. Vitus” is said to be one of the oldest places of worship of the Emsland district. It was consecrated over 1,000 years ago in “Bocia” by Bishop of Osnabruck Dodo. Approxiamately 69.7% of Meppen’s population is Roman Catholic.

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The foundation of St. Vitus Church goes back to the St. Ludger (742-809), who was a missionary among the Frisians and Saxons, founder of Werden Abbey and first Bishop of Münster in Westphalia. It was said of him that his peaceful methods were far more effective in promoting Christianity than the aggressive tactics of Charlemagne. He was criticized during his life for spending money on alms that should have gone towards the ornamentation of his churches, but was able to convince Charlemagne that this was no fault.

Here’s the organ loft shot…massive and stately as usual in these churches…

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And here is the “Stations of the Cross” relief that stood out to me most…

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Here is a mural named, “Taufort”, painted by Eberhard Muench for the new Baptismal font of the church…

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Circling back towards more of the old town center, I come upon the Old Town Rathaus…

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The foundation walls of the town hall, built from mere boulders, originate from the year 1408. The building had been enlarged and changed into the renaissance-style between 1601 and 1605, not only expanding to two floors, but also adding pillars to increase the surface area of the facade. The building has now been turned into a cafe and a pharmacy.

A neighboring building is the colorful and fairly large ‘Gymnasialkirche”, one of the few baroque buildings in North Germany, constructed from 1743 – 1746.

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The Windthorst Gymnasium, which is a school and church, has made a name for itself as a “jewel of Baroque church architecture and art”. The school was founded in 1642 by Jesuits and is the oldest high school even beyond Emsland. In 1982, the school was named after Ludwig Windthorst, a German politician who fought against the secularization of schools his whole life.

Here is the statue that stands on the front lawn…

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Also in the historical district of Meppen is the Stadtmuseum, or “City Museum”, housed in the former” Arenberger Rentei. The classical style building was built in 1805 by renowned architect, August Reinking, for Meppener Kaufmann Ferdinand Frye. In 1835, the house was purchased and served as the administration building and residence of the Rentmeister. Presently the museum of Meppen’s past, its exhibitions mainly focus on settlement history, medieval history, and Meppen’s cultural history from the 17th to the 20th century.

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And that’s about it for this historical area. The town center is pretty small and quaint, yet there was still room to put an H&M clothing store in the middle of everything! I had allowed myself two hours to walkabout before having to be on the bus, and I actually had plenty of time to shop before heading back over the bridge and up the street to the Poker Hotel and, yes, faaaaaaaaaaaaaar behind the hotel to my Honeymoon Suite! Next stop, load the luggage on the bus and drive off to Lingen, Germany for the next show.

The Lingen newsletter is coming up soon, I promise!!! Until next time, stay safe, God bless you, and may your Internet cafes be even more comfy than our tour bus:)

~Jenn