The vibrant city of Freiburg in the Black Forest is distinguished by its picturesque Bächle. These small canals crisscross the medieval town, and were once meant to fight fires.
According to folklore, if you accidentally step or fall into a canal, you will probably end up marrying a Freiburg local. That’s your cue if you plan on getting hitched while traveling Germany. 🙂
Freiburg’s Historic Buildings
While jumping into canals might be very tempting, don’t forget to check out Freiburg’s historical attractions. The new and old town halls are one example. Notice the coats of arms of Hungary, Bohemia, Austria and Castile on the old town hall?
Fun fact: Freiburg gets its name from being founded as a free market town in 1120 by the dukes of Zähringen.
The Altes Kaufhaus or the Historical Merchant’s Hall is one of Freiburg’s most outstanding buildings.
Its striking red facade is embellished with sculptures depicting the Holy Roman Emperors and the House of Habsburg. Don’t be fooled though. These sculptures are just replicas. The original sculptures have been stored away for safety.
Built around 1250, the Schwabentor gate (Swabian Gate) is the most recent of the two remaining medieval city gates in Freiburg.
Traveling in the Middle Ages was always fraught with danger. The relief figure of Dornauszieher (Boy with Thorn) on the gate’s facade, depicts a figure with a tortured expression, pulling out a thorn from his foot. It was meant to warn travelers about the potential risks of leaving the safety of Freiburg’s city walls.
And finally, Freiburg’s crown jewel, the Münster Cathedral. One of Europe’s oldest and most magnificent Gothic churches, the cathedral bears 19 bells with a combined weight of 25 tonnes! Foremost of these bells is the 750-year-old Hosanna Bell that is famous for its distinctive loud and melancholic tone.
The 116 meter tall west tower of the Münster Cathedral has served as an inspiration for many European churches. Its open lattice structure was revolutionary in church Gothic architecture, and is even now a majestic beauty on the Freiburg skyline.
While you are at the Münster Cathedral, have a good look at the gargoyles. They make for pretty unusual and hilarious specimens. If you are lucky, you may find the “defecating gargoyle”!
Other artistic highlights of the Münster Cathedral include:
- 16th century sculpture of the Adoration of the Christ Child by the Magi
- 13th century statue of the Virgin Mary flanked by two angels
- Altarpiece by Has Baldung Grien
- 16th century pulpit with stairs lined with figures depicting the townspeople of Freiburg
- Stained glass windows (oldest is in the south transept)