Archive for the ‘Siegen’ Category

A Snowy Day in Siegen

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Ah, another snowy day on tour! This was one of those surprising walkabouts where I didn’t think I was going to see much, but I ended up walking in the right direction, out of sheer luck, to find myself in the town center with charming sights all around! I had less time than usual to go exploring, due to the 1 hour travel time to get from our hotel to the venue, plus a scheduled mic check for 1 hour earlier than usual…so I walked fast and crammed shots of everything I could find within an hour and a half walkabout.

The first documented mention of Siegen (then called Sigena) was 1079. In 1224, Siegen is mentioned as a newly built town whose ownership was shared by the Count of Nassau (“Heinrich the Rich”), and Engelbert II of Berg (Archbishop of Cologne), after the latter transferred one half of the ownership to the former. The town remained under the two overlords’ joint ownership until February 1, 1381, only then passing fully into Nassau hands.

In the 16th century, the town of Siegen had quite the formidable look. It was surrounded by mighty walls with 16 towers and three town gates, as well as a castle. The town was stricken several times by townwide fires. Documents record such fires in 1592, and 1695.

I had lots of luck with my very first steps, heading blindly in the direction that would take me to so many visual prizes. Just to show you how snowy it was outside, here I am after only 1 MINUTE in the snowfall…

The snowy conditions of this day were only surpassed by romantic Bielefeld, so far!

I quickly came upon some seriously snowy steps, but that sure-fire lure of a church tower ahead fueled my courage onward and upward…

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Now some of you readers may chuckle at my arguably over-dramatization of conquering some plain ol’ snowy steps, but all my Floridian buddies can appreciate the courage it takes for me to deal with this much snow!!!

Behold…beyond the steps and across the street lies Siegen’s Catholic Church of St. Peter and Paul (Kath. Kirche St. Peter und Paul)…

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In 1937, the parish church of St. Peter and Paul was ordained. Through many expellees after WW II and the influx of many emigrants, this church grew very strong, and thus became the largest Catholic church in Siegen. Today approximately 24,000 people live in the parish’s territory, of whom about 5,800 are Catholics.

I love it when the doors are unlocked! Here is a beautiful stained glass window in the foyer…

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It looks like John the Baptist baptizing Jesus, and the Holy Spirit descending upon Him, saying, “This is my son, with whom I am pleased.” (Matthew 17.5)

The actual sanctuary was locked, but I snapped this pic through the glass doors…

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Sometimes I like to walk around buildings, to see different angles of the architecture, and when my off-sidewalk detours are particularly snowy, my boots end up getting buried in 2+ feet of snow! It’s happened at least 4 times now that I’m hoofing around some building, looking like a crazy person…no one else around me would be doing that! Crazy American tourist, visiting in the wrong season:)

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I made a few right turns and walked down one of the town’s main streets, craning my neck for some hint of a tower, cross, SOMETHING…I get to the point where I’m going to turn around after 3 more blocks…then I see SOMETHING! I don’t know what it is, but I head towards it, up hills, twists and turns, the cement roads turning into cobblestone, and I finally end up in what turns out to be the old town marketplace! Jackpot! Below is one of the first interesting items I come to…a random piece of cow art…I like it that the front cow looks like it’s chowing on snow!

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Apparently, these bronze statues are part of a greater work that extends up this street (Alte Poststraße), by Wolfgang Kreutter. The work also includes a herdsman with his dog and a cattle-watering tank.)

Up the road is the Museum of Contemporary Art or “Museum fur Gegenwartskunst”…

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The Museum of Contemporary Art has both contemporary art starting from the 1950s as well as displays of current art collections. One focus of the museum is the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher. Bernd Becher was born in 1931 in Siegen and grew up there. In addition, the museum also includes the Lambrecht-Schadeberg collection, an extensive collection of pieces from the separate work phases in the artistic lives of each of the Laureates of Siegen’s “Rubens Prize”. The Lambrecht-Schadeberg Collection was created over fifteen years ago in connection with the founding of the museum. Since then the collection has continuously grown to now comprise over 100 paintings, drawings, prints, as well as several photographs and sculptural pieces.

And just up the road from the museum is the “Unteres Schloss”, which was such a long building that I couldn’t fit it all into one shot. Here’s the more visually interesting right half…

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Though I didn’t see it’s sister building, the “Upper House”, here’s some interesting info on the buildings’ relationship:

Siegen’s two castles were formerly seats of two branches of the house of Nassau-Siegen. The Lower Castle (former residence of the Protestant branch) has an interesting royal crypt, and the Upper Castle (Roman Catholic branch) features the Siegerland Museum, which contains a gallery dedicated to the work of the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens, who was born in Siegen in 1577.

I had discovered the Protestant castle! In 1536, Johann VII of Nassau-Siegen (“Johann the Intermediary”) built the Unteres Schloss on the site of an old Franciscan Monastery. Late in the 17th century, the “Lower Stately Home”, or Unteres Schloss, achieved its current form, somewhat like an open rectangle. The Protestant line of the House of Nassau-Siegen resided here. Today, the schloss serves as a state authority building in which the North Rhine-Westphalia Building and Property Establishment, the State Environment Office, the Office for Occupational Health and Safety and the Attendorn Correctional Facility (Siegen Branch Facility) are all housed. The city plans to move a university into the Unteres Schloss within the next few years, but at this time, the plan is failing to find any financial backing.

Also belonging to the schloss is the Dicker Turm, or “Fat Tower”. In 1959, Siegen built a memorial for victims of war and tyranny. Inside the schloss is also found the royal crypt of the Evangelical (Protestant) branch of the Nassau princely house.

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My sunglasses-turned-snow-goggles weren’t doing me much good. They kept getting saturated with snow or fogging up from the heat of my eyeballs! I was wiping them over and over again, until I just gave up, packed them away and pulled my scarf over my nose!

The son of Johann VII, Johann VIII (“The Younger”), left Protestantism and returned in 1612 to the Catholic Church. He wanted to use force to make the townsfolk convert back to Catholicism as well. John Maurice of Nassau, the Dutch commander in Brazil, unseated him, yet John Maurice’s leadership still served to bring about a denominational split in Siegen from 1650-1651. Under the rule of Wilhelm Hyacinth of Nassau-Siegen, violence broke out between the two denominational groups. When townsman Friedrich Flender got killed on March 29, 1707, it was Wilhelm Hyacinth’s turn to be unseated and, furthermore, driven out of the town. Hyacinth was the last in the line of Nassau-Siegen’s Catholic rulers, dying in 1743. As the Reformed line had also already died out (with Friedrich Wilhelm’s death), the struggle of Catholic vs Protestant pretty much died in Siegen as well.

I hadn’t found the original site that led me to the town center…it was a beautiful gold…ornament?…more delicate than the usual spires I see on top of churches, etc. So as not to get your hopes up, I never found the “Upper Castle” (Oberes Schloss) where the Catholic house of Nassau once lived.

Retracing my steps so as not to get lost later, I catch a glimpse of the golden spire again and weave through the tiny streets until I reach it. It happens to be attached to the Church of St. Nicholas in the marketplace, next door to the city hall.

The special architectural feature of the Nikolaikirche is the 8-sided shape, which is known in professional circles as “Romanesque Hall Hexagon”. (North of the Alps, this is unique!)

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The history of the church begins in the first half of the 13th Century. In 1530, St. Nicholas Church was Protestant. Since the Reformation, it is the main church of the town of Siegen. The Church of St. Nicholas was home to a Latin school for many years until in 1817. After the Thirty Years War, the church was rebuilt, mainly by the territorial lords, more than once. For example, it was originally a Gothic tower, then replaced with a Baroque dome. While the church initially had a gable roof, the roof has since been restructured in the 20th century to emphasize the character of the hexagonal hall. After the bombing of Siegen on December 16, 1944, the church was almost destroyed completely. In the following reconstruction, the original white and oxblood paint was not reapplied until 2002.

It turns out that the sight which led me to the Old Town of Siegen is actually Siegen’s famous landmark!…

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Prince Johan Maurits of Nassau-Siegen affixed a crown on the tower of the Nikolai Church, to commemorate his elevation to the imperial ranks. Over the centuries, this crown was badly damaged by corrosion. Again and again, numerous repairs have been carried out, but in 1993 it finally broke off due to a strong gust of wind. Thus, the original crown was replaced by a replica made of stainless steel and copper sheets. This replica is guilded with a 4 carat gold leafing technique. This golden Krönchen (“coronet”), is still the most prominent feature of Siegen’s skyline. Siegen is sometimes called Krönchenstadt due to this unusual feature.

Next to the church is Altstadtisches Rathaus, built in 1351, is the City Hall of the Old Town, which presently has a Tudor-Gothic style facade (as of 1834/35).

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The heart of the Town Center…Nikolaikirche and Altstadtisches Rathaus…

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As you can tell from the blurs on the last few pictures, the snow was coming down pretty hard, I was running out of time (I had RUN to find this town square!), so even though I had seen one more spire to explore beyond Town Square, I had to turn around and return to the venue for my 3:30 mic check call.

Hoofing it back to the venue, I arrived ON TIME, only to find out that we were running late…this had happened once before on my 2nd Munich day, when I crammed my sightseeing into one hour, made it back on time, then found out we were running late then too! Can we just say now that mic check will never be earlier than 4?!…Riche???…Cut a newsletter photographer/writer a break!!!

At mic check, the band broke out with “Play That Funky Music”, we all started jammin’ out, and half of us broke out video cameras to record our little onstage party. Rodney and I were gettin’ DOWN! OK…not in this picture, but before and after this picture, we were gettin’ DOWN!

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Shannon joined us on “Play that funky music, white boy…” vocals…here he is groovin’ and waitin’ for it…waitin’ for it…

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And there he goes! Of course he picked Rodney’s mic, the one on the tallest stand!

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Our Plauen venue, the “Siegerlandhalle”, was quite vibrant, and had a clean backstage area…a nice change from the previous place!

Here’s Shannon posing…

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From the 24th to the 26th August 2007, the town of Siegen was celebrating the reopening of the Great Hall and Foyer of the Siegerlandhalle. This is a hall built between 1959 and 1961 on the premises of the so-called “Eintracht” on the edge of the town centre. When it was officially opened on the 15th March 1961, the Siegerlandhalle was one of the ten largest hall complexes in the Federal Republic of Germany. Work on the modernization and expansion of the site, which makes it today the largest events location in Southern Westphalia, began over a year earlier. The Siegerlandhalle can now accommodate a total of 2,400 people sitting or 4,300 standing.

Now, though we didn’t have that many people in attendance, our audience was clapping to our beats almost from the beginning…we even had a guy jump up from the front row and dance all by himself in front of the stage. I think he was jammin’ to “Shake Your Body”, but he was gettin’ it for a good half of the song! I don’t think his lady friend was too embarrassed:) I think my personal favorite audience moment of this show was when MJ asked the audience to sing the chorus of “I’ll Be There” with him, and this one couple, in the middle center, didn’t sing at first…the man looks at the woman, who looked determined not to sing, then he looked at us, and broke into song! Usually it’s the other way around, so I really appreciated his Man Support:)

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Next, we have two days off in Gießen, Germany, the town where stayed in our first hotel in December…and we’re staying the same hotel again! I hadn’t begun my walkabout routine at that point, so this time around I’ll actually get to see plenty of Gießen!

Until next time,

~Jenn