IRENE's TRAVELOGUE

JUNE/JULY 2002

TRACING ROMAN GERMANIA II

The Trip
Kaiseraugst
Augsburg
Regensburg
Weißenburg
Aalen
Aschaffenburg
Miltenberg
The Saalburg II
Cologne II
Neuß
Southwestern Black Forest
Schwäbisch Hall  Berlin

MORE TRAVEL
Tracing Roman Germania 1999
Tracing Roman Germania 2003 in the works
Ancient Rome as seen in the year 2001
Weißenburg i. Bayern,  click here for photos Weißenburg i. Bayern,  click here for photos

photos

WEISSENBURG i. Bayern     Roman Weißenburg     Eichstätt

town sealOriginally the site of the Roman Castra Biriciana, Weißenburg itself is first mentioned in 867 A.D. It became a free imperial city around 1296 and remained thus until 1802. In 1530 the town opted for Protestantism, which is still the dominating faith now.

Today, Weißenburg is a county seat in the State of Bavaria, in its Franconian region.

County seat notwithstanding, while I was there it was not quite the tourist season yet, and it appeared a sleepy little town, albeit an attractive one. I did not complain though… Here are my pictures, and here is a nice Weißenburg website. I stayed at the Hotel & Restaurant Goldener Adler, and while the accommodation was simple and inexpensive, the food was excellent!

I was surprised though about the real estate prices, as steep as in suburbia back home!

The town wall is still intact in large sections, although only one gate has survived. The wall had 38 towers, many of which are still standing and are mostly little private residences now. One section of the wall faces a pond, the Seeweiher, and makes for nice photos.

St. Andreas towers over the town, go here for photosThe Old Town Hall is of gothic origin, and the most dominating edifice is the Protestant Andreaskirche (St. Andrews church), dating back to the 14th century. Work continued through the early 16th century. Neo-gothic additions were made in 1891/92, however recently, all interior neo-gothic work has been removed. Very impressive is the Brautportal (Bride Portal) with its tympanum depicting the death and coronation of Mary. An old vestry under the tower has been converted into a treasure vault and displays the St. Andreas treasures, and impressive they are. There is a guided tour, and one is not allowed to take photos in the vault. Here are mine of the church.

The town historian, Dr. Ute Jäger, also conducts weekly walks at night as Nachtwächterin, night-watch[wo]man. And I missed it!

Roman Weißenburg

Domtiam Denarius, go here for story
courtesy
Doug Smith

Domitian - Silver denarius - 81 AD
Rome mint - 3.4g - Cohen 63
IMP CAES DOMITIANVS AVG PM
COS VII - DES VIII PP
dolphin & anchor

Today's Weißenburg is right on the Limes, (English), and is the site of the ancient Castra Biriciana. Not much is known about it yet, but coins found point to the original wooden castellum having been erected around 90 A.D. under the emperor Domitian. The later stone structure measured 7,600 acres, a moderate size for the area. Foundations can still be seen, as the place has been kept as an open space, and the north gate has been reconstructed, see my photos. Not too much is known about the castrum and settlement. The recently discovered Therme (baths), about 70 feet west of the castrum, has led to the assumption that the adjoining canabae must have been larger as originally assumed, as the baths measured 65 by 42.5 meters at their widest point (213 x 139 feet) and are the largest of their kind in Southern Germany. The Therme has been fully excavated and restored. It's roofed over and set up as an educational feature. There are two distinct construction phases: the baths seem to have been destroyed in the Marcomannic Wars and then rebuilt on a larger scale. They were finally destroyed in the 3rd century Alamannic Wars. Again, I missed the guided tour which I had planned to attend, due to my arriving in Weißenburg later than expected, and even with the excellent descriptions I can't fully match my photos with descriptions. Thus they give only a general impression of the baths. Addendum 2009: Gallery.

In 1979 a resident close to the baths dug in his garden to plant asparagus, meaning he had to go fairly deep, more than one foot. To his surprise, he came upon bronze artifacts, and it turned out to be the so far largest buried treasure in Germany. The find ranged from silver votives, bronze statuettes, vessels, parade armaments, to to tools and other household artifacts, 113 pieces altogether. After extensive restoration, they are now displayed in the excellent little Römer-Museum, and here are some of my photos. Due to the low light, some of them did not come out properly. I have to go back... smiley bullet

There are more remnants of the Limes around Weißenburg, including a villa rustica near Eichstätt (Limes, Eichstätt), but one needs a car to to visit those.


Eichstätt castle gardens, click here for imagesI did take a day trip by train to Eichstätt proper though, because I read that there was a museum with ancient artifacts, and a medieval garden, both at the Willibaldsburg, the castle above the town.

Eichstätt, another county seat, is a sleepy place too. The train from Weißenburg stopped at a little train tation, from which I had to take a shuttle train to Eichstätt town! As opposed to Weißenburg, it remained solidly Roman Catholic after the Reformation. A bishop's seat since the 8th century, begun with the British bishop Willibald, it suffered badly in the Thirty Years War as a consequence and was almost totally destroyed, so that the town today looks largely baroque. It houses the only Roman Catholic University in Germany today. My photos of downtown are limited, as it began to rain in the afternoon. Here are my photos.

The museum at the castle was a bit of a let-down, but has excellent fossils in the natural history section, the Jura Museum, especially the Eichstätter Archaeopteryx. The Bastionsgarten (bastion garden), on the other hand, was all that it had promised. Hortus Eystettensis is a reconstruction of a garden which was begun in the late 16th century and continued to flourish until the late 18th century, with what were rarities for the day. The original gardens seem to have been much larger than the current one, which has been limited by available space. Here are my photos. Due to the rain, I also skipped the Hofgarten downtown.

Eichstätt is part of the Naturpark Altmühltal, a huge nature preserve and favored vacation area east of Regensburg, mostly along the Altmühl river valley.

© Irene B. Hahn 2002

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