Sunday, July 31, 2016

Another Amazing City: Amberg

When we found out that we were ACTUALLY moving to Germany, we went wild planning all the places that we would finally visit.  And those plans are still in place!  But there are an amazing amount of beautiful little villages and cities in this area and we probably won't be spreading our wings for a while!

We have found a house (YAY!!!) in a town called Hahnbach about 10 minutes from the Viseck post.  Great location for Chopper getting to the base and for the elementary school as well.  We actually haven't explored any of that town yet -- I guess we're waiting until we move in!  And our move in date is September 1st.  The current tenant has not quite left and then a few things need to be repaired before we take ownership.  I'm not EXCITED about another month in temporary living but I am grateful that it's in an apartment and not a single hotel room.

So now that we have transportation (no, not the van -- we bought a second vehicle), we've been getting out on Saturdays for my own sanity as much as for the exploration.  Amberg is probably the largest city closer to us although I wasn't expecting what it was.  We stuck to the central square of course, but it also has a Real (like a Walmart), OBI (Home Depot) and larger versions of the grocery stores like Aldi, etc.  I was surprised as we walked around to see H&M, Esprit, other larger clothing stores, and I imagine that Amberg is where I'll go for major shopping as well as for medical stuff (which I have yet to figure out!).

Ok so all of this history stuff I'm getting from Wikipedia because everything else is in German!!
Apparently the first mention of Amberg in written record is in the 1000's and it's had some notable times in Bavarian history and in the French Revolution of all things!  It blows my mind that these places are so old honestly!

Ok so the thing is too that to my tourist eye, everything should be labeled with what it is, when it was built, etc.  Even if it is in German!  But what I'm certainly learning as we wander around, is that what to me if exciting and new and interesting, is just a part of life here.  So perhaps the origin and meaning of this fountain is well-known already to the people of Amberg.  Or perhaps I could have found the information in the Rathaus and not been able to read it anyway!  But basically what I'm saying is that things are not labelled and so I never really know what I'm looking at -- just that it's all beautiful.

I do know that this building is the Town Hall done in the Gothic style and built in 1358.  Crazy!

And this church is St. Martin.  The tower is completely covered by scaffolding and sheeting -- I don't know if it's renovations or cleaning and repair.  Many of these churches are pretty simple on the outside although large, but elaborate on the inside.  

This one did have a lot of statues around doorways and windows though.

Once you walk in, the main section of the church was separated from the back (?) by these beautiful scrolled gates.  And then of course the decoration.

And the ceilings!!

I adore stained glass!!  Much of what is depicted often involves saints or is events that I'm not sure about but I did recognize one as the baptism of Christ that was a very interesting portrayal.

This church was designated as a basilica -- I need to learn Catholicism as well as history to understand it all -- but I looked it up and a source online says that a basilica is a church basically designated as a special one by the pope because of it's spiritual, historical, or architectural significance.  Once designated, it remains a basilica.  Now I don't know the reason St. Martin's is a basilica -- architecturally speaking it seems to me (uneducated as I am) to be similar to the others we have seen in the area.  But it did have two interesting things that we haven't yet seen in other churches.  The first was this coffin/sarcophagus of an individual behind the main altar,

and the second was this person buried in a niche off the side -- he's in the glass case at the bottom under the white tablecloth.

 And that's him!  He was dressed pretty elaborately in red and white and lace, but again, not knowing much about Catholicism in general, and not seeing a sign that explained things, I'm not sure if he's the reason it's a basilica or if there's another.

In addition to stained glass, gold work, etc. there were also some incredible paintings.

And "stuff" from long ago.

My 2 years of high school German hasn't done much for me (although it's better than nothing!) and my 2 years of Latin s no better!!  I imagine if we travel into France that my French will be ridiculous as well!

The pillars and space of these places is always awe-inspiring -- with a little William head in the pew for perspective.

Abby loves the tiny doors that are everywhere!

Amberg is on the Vils River and although it's not something you'd actually want to get in, it's pretty with all these houses right on the banks and practically in the water.

Gelato break!

Going out from the market square are lots of streets that are pedestrian only and we followed one in particular that was all shopping at the ground level and I'm sure apartments above.  We totally could see my brother and sister Danny and Denise living here!

I love these parts that protrude from buildings -- I imagine that on the inside they make the best nooks!!  And they're all covered in flower boxes.

As we came to the end of the road there was a second church and across from it, this very modern, recently constructed library.  It's a good example of what Germany seems to me to be -- a mix of old and new in an eclectic, fascinating way.

I don't know the name of this second church, but where the first was gold and dark, this one was light and carvings and airy.

Before we left, a group of people came in and were getting candles out behind the altar and preparing for something.  Part of me wanted to tell them not to touch anything!  But we went outside and walked around the outside and then began hearing organ music.  We started to go back in thinking maybe it was a practice for Sunday or something but when we opened the door that group was having  a baby baptism so we didn't interrupt.  The priest was chanting/singing something to the music but it was a tune that we sing in church -- unfortunately I couldn't place the song that we sing!

Megan for scale and because she won't take pictures on purpose!

Just trying to soak it all in -- literally.

Back down the street and taking fun pictures at the library.

They have a statue walk that goes around another part of the town that we want to get back and explore and when we arrived in the afternoon they were just packing up booths selling flowers, vegetables, etc. in the market square so I suppose we need to go on a Saturday morning sometime too.  But with 5 years expected here, we'll have plenty of time to explore the in's and out's since we'll be so near to it.

Just another example of modern meets ancient right?  Original city wall and someone's graffiti.  Teenagers can be hooligans anywhere I guess!!