Nuremberg to Prague

On The Road Travel Essays

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Nuremberg to Prague

(COURIER: These notes assume you'll be using the new Autobahn from Nuremberg to the Czech border. Few cities lie near the Autobahn, and you may want to use this stretch to begin your Introduction to Czechoslovakia.)

Franconia  Although we are still in the state of Bavaria, this region of it has its own identity. It is known as Franconia (Franken). Geographically, it is a region of wooded hills, and this has made for a relatively sparse population.

Courts and castles: Many castles dot the woodsy hills, since the latter afforded excellent protection in lawless times. Here in these castles, the famed Minnesanger (Singers of Love) entertained the local duke and his court on long winter evenings, singing ballads of great loves, heroic deeds, and legends of the past. These Minnesanger's ballads became the basis of German lyric poetry, a tradition very much alive in German literature.

Hammers and anvils: Franconians loved their song, but they didn't neglect work. The towns of Franconia became flourishing centers of craftsmanship. Nuremberg, capital of Franconia, had one of the finest metalworking traditions in Europe. (Many of Europe's weapons of war, from armor to muskets and canons, were made in Nuremberg, and the local metalworkers' guild was one of the richest in Europe. Europe's first pocketwatch was invented here. It was called the "Nuremberg Egg" because it was shaped like an egg, and about the size of one. This was in the 16th century, when water clocks and hour glasses were widely used elsewhere!) This tradition of craftsmanship continues today in Nuremberg.

Splendid public works: Nuremberg and the towns nearby were very rich cities, and with this money, they built handsome public buildings: guildhalls, Town Halls, cathedrals, bridges, sculptured fountains, hospitals, clock towers, etc. Many of the towns of Franconia were ruled by prince-archbishops who had a taste for art, and the money to put into it. They built the Baroque and Rococo-style churches that dot Franconia.

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