We start off our Limburg morning with our Tour Manager, Arvid, redirecting oncoming traffic in order for the bus to fit down a street…going the WRONG WAY!!! Arvid: Limburg Traffic Controller! At least he had a white-and-hazard orange striped shirt on so that the cars could see him in time to brake! We park halfway down this street, of course facing the wrong way, and our only doors out of the bus open up to the busy car-filled road! Our morning of dangerous living begins…
Bus Driver Ralf keeping a positive attitude!
Usually, Musical Director Richie and Dance Captain Shannon exit the bus to scout out the venue (locate catering, dressings rooms, where we shouldn’t walk, etc.), while we stay on the bus for a while longer. But today, Rob immediately herds all of us across the street…
(Hey, at least they put little barricade-letts by our doors so we buy ourselves an extra 3 seconds of running time!)…
And files us into a line to get our picture taken for our Russia work visas. “But I don’t have any make-up on!”, I exclaim. “Well when the Rusian border wakes us up at 6AM to check visas and they compare yours with your sleepy face, it will match perfectly!”, retorted Rob. He was right, but I wasn’t happy.
Thankfully, the photographer’s soft lens took care of any splotchy places. When I went into catering later to grab some lunch, what did I find taped under the show schedule?…our Russian mugshots! Hah! One big happy family:)
After filling out my visa paperwork with Arvid, I was released to frolic in the streets of Limburg, and I was so excited because there was a HUGE cathedral I was rarin’ to find!
There are few cities to be compared with Limburg, where buildings date back to the middle ages and still stand today as they did then. For this reason the heart of the city that used to be surrounded with a wall is now under a preservation order as historic monument. That’s pretty awesome to have a whole piece of the city be deemed a monument!
In 910, the town was first mentioned as “Lintpurc”. Two of the popular theories are:
- The name was chosen because of the closeness to the Linterer Bach, a former brook in Linter that has now run dry and that emptied into the Lahn River. Therefore it could be derived from “Linter Burg”, i.e. “castle on the Lint Brook”.
- Rather unlikely but very popular is the connection to a dragon saga (see Lindworm) and the connection with the monastery of Saint George the “Dragon Slayer” founded in Limburg.
Right behind our venue is the Limburg Rathaus…check! That was too easy!
OK…but no online stats on this town hall. Weird, but you know what? After hours of research, I’m just going to say it’s quite the whimsical structure to be known as the town’s City Hall, and more power to it! I think it’s beautiful, and I thank it for being the beginning of my walkabout!
The statue (below) by the Rathaus commemorates a Limburg citizen, Senger Werner, who in 1358, left the majority of his fortune to the hospital. Now called the “Citizens Hospital Foundation Fund, it ensures the poor to be equally treated in Limburg.
So, just like in Siegen, I wandered down the streets again, craning my neck to see some hint of a spire, knowing this large structure was SO CLOSE (I caught a glimpse of it as we pulled into town on the bus), yet buried behind one of these parking garages or skyrises…then BAM!
As I was taking a picture of another building, I saw the cathedral in the midst! This is what I stepped off the bus to see!
As I walked toward the cathedral, I was getting so excited because I could already see some of the famous half-timber houses of Limburg an der Lahn’s Medieval Old Town, nestled in the shadow of the cathedral. Below is a pic of where I was crossing over from newer brick road to old medieval cobblestone! I LOVE this place already!!!
Limburg an der Lahn has one of the best preserved medieval town centers in Germany. Some of the old town’s half-timbered houses date back to the 13th century, but most of them from “only” the 17th or 18th century. The white houses with red and black framework give Limburg a particularly cheerful atmosphere. The city of Limburg an der Lahn was strategically important due to its location on the main trade route from Cologne to Frankfurt. This led to frequent conflicts with neighbouring lordships and made the city a target of robber-barons. As a result, the city was heavily fortified by the Counts of Limburg. Towers were built around the city in 1315. In 1343, walls and a moat were added to surround the town. Remains of the fortification wall from the years 1130, 1230 and 1340 (with a greatest ever length of roughly one thousand metres) are today’s strongest proof of the town’s quick development in the Middle Ages. The town wall was torn down in 1818. Of that original city wall, only the 13th century Katzenturm (“Cat’s Tower”) remains. This tower is now home to a naval museum.
Below are a group of houses at Bischofsplatz dating back to the 16th century. The so-called “Byron House” is one of them…
These are my favorite shots from wandering the little town…
I love how irregularly close these buildings are! I am truly mystified here, as if I’ve stepped into the town of my childhood imagination. It’s almost like strolling through the “Goblin City” from the movie Labyrinth! I could have spent all day just wandering the few streets, sitting by a doorstep and looking around for a while, running my hands along all the wood, plaster, and stone which just seems a bit more magical in these buildings than elsewhere…
Because many buildings now have modern shops, pleasant cafés, and refurbished homes, it gives Limburg a living, breathing town life to balance the fantasyland aspects…so not only do I WANT to live here, but the complimenting modernization of the town makes it POSSIBLE for me to live here (hypothetically, of course)!
Past all the quaint shops, tiny alleys, cobblestone paths, half-timbered houses, and wrought iron doorways, I finally come to the crown of the town… a colorful Romanesque cathedral.
Well hello there, colorful Romanesque cathedral!…what’s your name???
The seven-towered Dom St Georg (St. George Cathedral) can be seen from quite far away, and draws visitors not only into Limburg in general, but towards its towering presence. The St. George’s Cathedral (also called Georgsdom) was built on the old monastery church’s site and was consecrated in 1235 by the Archbishop of Trier. The St. George Cathedral (ALSO called the Limburger Dom) is one of the best examples of late Romanesque architecture in the region, with some elements of the impending Gothic already visible in the interior. It was elevated to the rank of cathedral in 1827. The cathedral’s image appeared on the back side of the 1,000 Deutsche Mark banknotes (the largest denomination) in circulation between 1960 and 1989 (a period coinciding with West Germany’s post-war “economic miracle”).
Although the church was stripped bare during the 19th century in an erroneous notion of what medieval churches should look like, the exterior was repainted in its original colors during the restoration of 1968-1972.
South of the cathedral is the Castle of Limburg (Limburger Schloss), erected around the same time as the cathedral (at that time, still just a church), by Gerlach von Ysenburg.
I unknowingly took the pic above from the steps of part of the old castle….I didn’t take a picture of this area because it didn’t LOOK like a castle! I have to get it into my head that many German castles look more like fortresses or merely strongholds vs the storybook castles at which I’d prefer to gawk! The goal of the picture above is to show you all 7 of the cathedral’s towers in one shot. You can count the 7 points, yet the second-to-last one is only visible by it’s point:(…therefore, to show you just a bit more of that tower, plus to show you were I was standing, I broke down and pulled a stock photo (below)…
Just to the left of this photo are the stairs I was standing on in order to take a picture. And you can barely see just a bit more of that 6th tower on the cathedral from this angle.
Around 800, the first castle buildings arose on the Limburg crags. This was designed for protection, probably for a ford on the river Lahn. In the decades that followed, the town arose under the castle’s protection. In the early 13th century, Limburg Castle was built in its current form. The Lordship of Limburg passed to the House of Isenburg between 1219 and 1221. One line of the Lords of Ysenburg resided from 1258 to 1406 at Limburg Castle and named themselves for their seat, the Lords of Limburg. From this line came Imagina of Isenburg-Limburg, German King Adolf’s wife. The Counts of Limburg, who lived in Limburg Castle, built the majority of the town structures still existing today. In 1379 a fire burned parts of the castle. In 1400 John II built the southern two-story hall (I’m assuming that’s one of the buildings above?). I feel like a jerk, missing the castle, and I honestly can’t figure out how I missed it, except there were two sets of paths behind the church that I didn’t explore….I would most likely have seen the vast back parts of the castle had I gone those ways, but there was a group of men lunching in the middle of one narrow path, and I was traveling alone so I didn’t want to pass them…and the other way just slipped through the cracks. DOH!
Well hopefully these inside cathedral shots will make up for the lack of castle shots…
During restoration work, medieval frescoes were uncovered, making three quarters of the interior decorations the originals! The nave is 50 m (165 ft) long and 21 m (68 ft) high while the cupola soars to 33 m (197 ft).
Of course I had to take a picture of the beautiful organ pipes in the back…
By the way, the cathedral has it’s own donation box for Haiti…thanks Dom StGeorg!
Back outside, off to the side of the front of the cathedral, is a modest cemetary…
I don’t know if it’s in the cemetery or inside the cathedral, but Konrad Kurzbold, the one who laid the foundation stones for Saint George’s Monastery Church, is buried here, as well as the rulers of the house of Limburg. The cemetery lines the side of the cliff, reminding me how far above the Lahn River, valley, and town the cathedral truly rises.
Plunging back into my favorite little town streets, I come upon a more open space where Stadtkirche St. Sebastian sits…
The Gothic church of St. Sebastian, a former Franciscan church, dates back to about 1300. True to the rules of the mendicant order (relying on charity), this church was built simply, without arches or ornamental shapes (later, the current ceiling, one aspect for which it is most known, was introduced in 1743). The most famous of the tombs here is that of John von Limburg (died 1312). “The Blind Lord” (reportedly nicknamed as a result of an eye disease in his old age) was head of the House of Limburg. John was probably responsible for the construction of the bridge over the Lahn at Limburg, the construction of the church of the Franciscan Monastery, and the founding of the Wilhelmiten monastery. Even the construction of St. Peter’s Chapel in Limburg Castle goes back to him.
Here’s a bit more info on the town history:
The ruling class among the medieval townsfolk were rich merchant families whose houses stood right near the castle tower and were surrounded by the first town wall. The area of today’s Rossmarkt (“Horse Market”), in which many simple craftsmen lived, was only brought within the fortifications once the second town wall was built. The inhabitants there, however, unlike the merchant élite, were accorded no entitlement to a voice in town affairs and were not allowed to send representatives to town council. Nevertheless, they had to bear the main financial burden of running the town. Only in 1458 were they allowed to send two representatives to town council.
Here are some not-so-great parts of Limburg history:
-On 14 May 1289, a devastating fire wiped great parts of the inner town out, although these were built anew.
-The first Jews probably came from France in 1190 to Limburg, yet the first documentation of a Jewish community in the town was in the year 1278. In 1337, Limburg’s Jews were driven out of town. Only in 1341 could they once again settle in the town, by royal order. Around 1450, the Jewish community was wiped out again, and the few Jews who remained used a fish market’s cellar as their synagogue until the 18th century. Since 1998, there has been a stabilized Jewish community in Limburg, with a membership of 200 as of 2009.
-In 1344 a half share of the town was pledged to the Electorate of Trier, and in 1420, the town went wholly into Trier’s ownership. This event, along with another town fire in 1342, the Black Death in 1349, 1356 and 1365, but above all the Territorial Princes’ rise, led to a gradual decline until…
Back on the positive historical facts:
-…the early 19th century, when the rise of the the Duchy of Nassau (1806-1866) gave a new lease of life to Limburg.
-In 1827, Limburg became the seat of a diocese.
-In 1862, it had become an important railway junction in the region, which led to it becoming district capital in 1886.
Making my way out of the “most medieval” part of town, I see a fountain which reminds me of my St. George research…they guy who became part of a dragon-slaying legend, etc. I’ll snap this picture, then see if I’m right later…
I’m right! (hah!)
The George Fountain, or “Georgsbrunnen” was donated by the honorary Limburg citizen, Josef Heppel, who was a trained plumber, born in 1849. This year is the fountains 100th birthday. The fountain of St. George was moved in the 1960s to this small square (Neumarkt), it’s present home. The victorious knight it represents was a hero, a saint, and also patron saint of the diocese of Limburg. The figure, resting on an approximately two-meter high octagonal pillar, was created by sculptor R. Hilf. At some point, the statue had become structurally vulnerable, due to the wars and old age, and was therefore recast entirely in bronze. Young George replaced Old George, and has watched over the residents and guests of the Neumarkt, since 1987. Old George, now stands at the entrance of the Limburg town archives.
The last interesting structure I come across is the Evangelische Kirchengemeinde Lindburg, or the Evangelical Church of Limburg…
The Evangelical Church is also the Jugendfreizeitstätte Limburg (JFS for short, meaning “Youth Leisure Place”), a meeting place for youth. With a table football, Internet café, and many church-based and non church-based events, this institution’s staff serves members and visitors.
Now that I’m finishing up my walkabout, and even as I write this newsletter a few days later, I really wish I’d stayed put in the Old Town of Limburg longer…I truly miss it already (and still)! But nevertheless, my Limburg journey is completed upon my return to the Josef Kohlmaier Hall (Limburg Stadthalle)…
This venue contributes significantly to the cultural atmosphere of Limburg, presenting everything from concerts and fashion shows to providing rooms for lectures and even bowling!
Here’s a particularly enchanting angle of the lobby stairway…
So let’s see…Nothing out of the ordinary to report about the show. The children’s choir was adorable, Latosha borrowed my speakers for her new iPod and had an exceptionally entertaining day because of it, and, oh yeah…one more incident…I will sum it up with this statement: If the one girl in your cast usually keeps her dressing room door WIDE OPEN when she gets ready…check twice…check three times…before entering if the DOOR IS CLOSED! I’m so tired of not having locks on my dressing room door, because of course the 5 minutes I’m getting into/out of the shower or getting changed, someone has to open that door. I kind of live in fear every time I close that door, and today in Limburg, that fear was realized. It’s all good, though…the culprit is innocent…but STILL! A lady deserves her privacy, even on tour!!!
OK, enough complaining. I’ve had a great day in Limburg and no accidental peep show is gonna ruin that!
Have a great start to your week and I’ll be emailing you again soon!