Friday, October 8: En route to the Black Forest, we stopped in Freiburg on a whim. Three unexpected and delightful surprises awaited us; we are so glad we stopped!
Freiburg lies just 20 miles from the French border on the Rhine River. It is tucked comfortably where the river valley rises into the low mountains of the Black Forest (Schwarzwald). The old town centers on Freiburger Münster, the magnificent gothic cathedral. Behind that rises the Schlossberg, a green hill that marks the start of the forest.
As we entered town, we decided to stretch our legs a bit at Freiburg Seepark. The arced footbridge gave close views of Eurasian coots as they bobbed and dived. Mallards, lazy in the afternoon sun like we were, observed from nearby roosts. Children singing “I believe I can fly” provided the soundtrack as they swung on the playground.
Market on Münsterplatz
This being Germany, the next stop was naturally to see the cathedral. As we approached, Jean’s face split into a wide grin. It was market day, one of her favorite things about Europe. Bright flowers, fresh bread, colorful produce, and artisan goods filled the Münsterplatz. Of course, there was bratwurst in the hand of every other person. And soon, in ours too.
As we entered the cathedral, the unexpected thunder of the pipe organ struck us. A young man, perhaps of seventeen, sat practicing with his teacher. The piece crescendoed, subsided, and then rose again. The melody didn’t seem to repeat or ever resolve into a major chord. Magnificent.
The cathedral itself was magnificent as well. It is a Gothic masterpiece, completed in 1330 and surprisingly, without damage from WWII. The entrance hall has a pantheon of woman saints – I counted only five men in the row. Interestingly, the cathedral is not owned by the Catholic Church, but by the people of Freiburg, as it has been since construction.
Freiburg im Breisgau was an expected surprise and worth a detour!