Destination: Gelnhausen

Destination: Gelnhausen

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At the geographical center of the European Union
lies the small city of Gelnhausen, which traces its history back to the
legendary 12th-century emperor Barbarossa. He built the city here,
at a place where several trade routes met, because the Spessart and the Büdingen Woods forced travellers going east
through a narrow bottleneck. Barbarossa also built a small palace
outside the city walls to serve as administrative offices
for his surrounding estates. It even served three times
as a venue for the Imperial Diet. Being outside the city walls
the palace attracted a small village, which, until as late as 1895,
had its own town hall. The Witches’ Tower was part of
Gelnhausen’s defences, and was built in the 1470s
where it could protect the route to the palace. It was called “Witches’ Tower” by the locals after the witch-hunts
of the 16th and 17th centuries, when it used to imprison, torture and execute at least 54 people suspected of witchcraft. Some of the old gates
still surround the old city: a challenge to modern urban planning. The Wooden Gate is in two parts: an outer gate and an inner gate. The wooden panels on the inside of the
inner gate were to keep costs down. This is the birthplace of the famous author
Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen. His “Der Abenteuerliche Simplicissimus Teutsch” is regarded as the finest German novel
of the seventeenth century. Also born in Gelnhausen was Philipp Reis, who solved the problem of how to convey
voice through electric wires, leading to the invention of the telephone. His bust is in the Lower Market Place; as that name suggests,
this is one of two market places in Gelnhausen, hinting at its earlier wealth and importance. The Upper Market Place is a short distance away, and is the location of the town hall. St Peter’s Catholic Church
is once more used for worship: “once more”, because it was secularised
after the Reformation and used as a storehouse, a military hospital
and a cigar factory. It was built within sight of St Mary’s, which belonged to the Selbold Monastery
until 1543. When, in a little house just across the road, a document was signed
handing the church over to the city, it became Lutheran. This was a peaceful process, so the church was spared
the attentions of the Iconoclasts, who would otherwise have
vandalised and plundered it. But while both churches date
from around the 13th century, hidden away in a residential area is the Godobertus Chapel,
which pre-dates Gelnhausen itself and is still in use today. For a while, Gelnhausen even had its own mint,
in this house. And between it and the next,
something you don’t get to see very often: this is a firewall of a very literal kind. The most important trade route
passing through Gelnhausen was a section of the Via Regia,
the King’s Highway, between the trading cities
of Frankfurt and Leipzig, transporting cloth, wood, honey and wax, as well as armies. This was the narrowest section
of the entire route. Measuring rods the width of this street
were kept in Frankfurt and Leipzig, to ensure merchants didn’t overload their wagons. Today, this place is still an important link
between the two cities, but modes of transport have become
faster and more modern. Gelnhausen’s most recent claim to fame is that one of the GIs
stationed here in the 1960s went on to greater things. His name was Colin Powell.

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22 Comments

  1. Hast du schonmal in den Simplicissimus reingelesen? Also nichts "vermoderntes"?
    Ich hatte nach drei Seiten und gerade mal gefühlten fünf Sätzen keine Lust mehr!

  2. it would be nice to have a little map on the first shots of the documentary, which indicates the place roughly. not everyone knows where the büdinger wald and the spessart is located. otherwise a mega informative series, id like you to continute further. you really need a tripod in future for some of these shots 😉

  3. I really do enjoy these videos.
    I'm not much of an outdoors person, so it's nice to be reminded how beautiful Germany can be.
    Also: This sort of "tourist guide" excuses me hanging out on youtube. After all: I'm learning something, aren't i? ^^
    Infotainment they call it. And you do it very well.

  4. Ging mir auch so- ich war neugierig geworden, weil ich eine Szene daraus in einem Buch über den 30Jährigen Krieg gelesen hatte, und so lieh ich mir den Roman in der Stadtbibliothek aus. Meine "Tagesleistung" steigerte sich, da ich mich so nach und nach in das barocke Deutsch einlas. Am Ende schaffte ich so um die 40 Seiten pro Tag und schaffte es mit einer Verlängerung der Leihfrist.Umwerfend komisch die Szene, in der dem Pfarrer der Wurstvorrat geklaut wird .

  5. I know a little English and are very interested in the culture of Germany, thanks to these videos are just for me.

  6. Versteh die Kritik völlig. Falls es Sie doch noch interessiert, greifen Sie doch zur (viel gelobten) Neuausgabe von Reinhard Kaiser. Er hat das Deutsch des 17. Jh. ins heutige Deutsch übertragen: In dieser Ausgabe hab ich's gelesen und fand's wirklich richtig interessant. ISBN: 9783821847696. Grüße.

  7. Great video, but on the gates the wooden plates where used and built for battle purposes.
    If the enemy has taken the tower, archers with fire arrows could burn down the wood to attack the enemies inside.

  8. That's interesting, and it sounds very convincing. The only thing that worries me is that this is the only one of Gelnhausen's gates built this way. Is there an explanation for that?

    If you have a reference, that would be great.

  9. Schreiben wir mal in Deutsch, ist einfacher 😀
    Das Holz wurde auch der Sparsamkeit wegen gebaut, aber eben auch um den Gegner keinen Schutz zu bieten. Eine Erklärung, warum nur der Turm das hat, ist, dass dieser Turm anscheinend älter ist als der andere Turm bzw die anderen Türme. 🙂

  10. Vielen Dank für das Video  und wenn ich von Uk nach Deutschland in 3 Jahren umziehe, dann nur wieder in meine Heimatstadt.  😉

  11. This was my first "home away from home." I love this little town where I lived for nearly 2 years while my husband was stationed at Coleman Kaserne in the late 1960's. I still love the town and all the friends that I have made through the years who live there and in the surrounding areas. You know who you are! I still visit there every 2 or 3 years and always feel I am coming home.

  12. Thanks for the video! My husband (Stan Maxson) was stationed here from 1961 to 1964.
    Our two oldest children were born here — well actually born in Frankfurt. I still have my rocking chair (made in Poland) that all of us young moms bought for $8. at the PX. Also have the coo coo clock and other great carvings. Germany was so wonderful to all of us so soon after the war. I miss the castles and much more. Mary Ann Maxson

  13. My wife, daughter and I visited Gelnhausen in April 2016. Her mother had lived there and she still has relatives there. Beautiful town. We intend to visit Gelnhausen again.

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