After a long day of travel, we have finally made it to Germany. Even though the travel was exhausting, there was no time to rest. After landing at Munich airport, we took a bus that dropped us off at our hotel in Augsburg. When we were traveling on the highway I thought that we were traveling along the Pennsylvania turnpike. I do not know if it was the jet lag or if the German landscape has similar if not the same foliage as Pennsylvania. There are similarities there were also differences between America and Germany. One thing that I did notice is that many houses have solar panels, even houses that are out in the countryside. There are also many fields that only contain solar panels and I also saw a few wind turbines. The most apparent difference were these fields of yellow scattered around the German countryside.
When we arrived at the hotel our rooms were not ready, so we began the tour almost immediately. We dropped our bags off at the hotel and headed off to see the town hall, St. Anne’s church, and the fuggerei. During our walk to the city center I could not help but feel as if I was walking through Shadyside or Squirrel Hill. Augsburg feels like a small town but it has amenities that you would not see in a small town in America, such as a public tram system. The most interesting fact I learned today was that most of Augsburg was destroyed during the second world war, but one of the buildings that was left completely untouched was St. Anne’s church. Was it divine intervention that preserved St. Anne’s church or was it just luck? No matter the reason, I am glad it was left because it was stunning. The entrance was intricately decorated, and the stained-glass windows dated back to the 1300s.
The town hall was not as lucky as St. Anne’s church – it only had 3 walls remaining after the war. Over time it was restored to its original state, but it took time for a full restoration due the Golden hall. It is a magnificent room that is about six thousand square feet accompanied by a forty-six feet tall ceiling. It is richly decorated with large doorways, murals, and a ceiling. Culture shock finally hit me because I have never seen anything quite like it before.
The fuggerei was our last destination of the day before dinner and it was created by Jakob Fugger, one of the richest men the world has ever seen. It is a place for the needy people of Augsburg to stay. The rent was originally one Rheinsicher Gulden per year and this can be converted to 88 cents per year today. To live here you first must meet the qualifications. You must be poor, lived in Augsburg for at least 2 years, and be of the catholic faith. The qualifications have not changed since the founding. The fuggerei even has a famous former resident: the great grandfather of the great composer Wolfgang Mozart, Franz Mozart. He might not actually be famous himself, but his great grandson’s fame has warranted a plaque remembering Franz’s time in the fuggerei.
We saw so many new things today I think I could write a book about it. Overall, I was amazed by the history in this city ranging from the buildings to the famous people who once called it home. I can not wait for the rest of this program.