Saturday, September 24, 2016

Augsburg for the first time visitor

I didn't plan into the finest details my trip to Augsburg, as I knew that I will not have the luxury of spending too much time here. I knew, though, that there is a place where history happened very often across centuries and connecting the history from the books with the experience of travel is always one of my biggest pleasures. For instance, Augsburg is the only city in Germany with its own legal holiday, Augsburger Hoges Friedenfest, celebrating every 8th of August the end of the 30 years war in the 17th century.
On a Friday afternoon, the streets were full of life and passants, listening to the street musicians various tunes in the area around the Stadtmarkt, or just running home or to their holidays. The Stadtmarkt in itself is a recommended foodie destination, with its various international foods - French cheese included - and meat, spices or wines. In addition to a visit to one of the local bakeries, like Wolf and Schubert it is a good start for the trip. 
Around Függerplatz, the architecture is inviting to more photographies or just to a stop to admire and try to blend into the environment. As in many cities in this part of Germany, between 14 and 16.00 it may happen that many restaurants do not serve lunch, thus, be ready to either pick up a snack or just wait until later in the day when the break is over.
My main destination of the afternoon trip was the rococco and baroque Schaetzlerpalais, where until mid-November is running an art exhibition presenting many of my favourite artists: Giacometti, Brauner, de Chirico, Francis Bacon among other modern painters and sculptors. The geometrically shaped garden is a place where you can eventually walk quietly trying to better understand the messages of the art you just admired.
Besides the impressive art collection, the palais has also a breathtaking baroque room of treasures with mirrors on the side reflecting the generous golden inserts on the side while playing the game of lights with the extravagant candelabra. Imagine how it is to have a ball party here,  with couples dancing in the slow pace of a walz. Those were the days...No picture can really catch the majestic feeling you experience once you enter this hall. The building of this hall lasted around five years, between 1765-1770 and it considered the most significant rococo ball room in Germany.
The eyes were later enjoying the beautiful painted facades, made in a style typical for this Southern part of Germany. I first encounter them in Konstanz and I was glad to see them again on Kaputzinergasse. For a while, I am walking the quiet neighbourhood around Konrad Adenauer Allee, an area with elegant buildings and I have a look at the big park at Theodor Heuss Square. 
Another interesting destination for the cultural hunters like me is the Handwerkmuseum - Handicraft museum - situated in the middle of a medical facility, also with a beautiful garden. The entry is free and it displays various trade and craft samples from the Schwabian region, Augsburg is part thereof.
After Neuss and Trier, Augsburg is the third oldest city in Germany, his name being a reminder of the Roman Emperor Augustus. A Roman-circus shaped area, Freilichtbühne, is nowadays a destination for local shows and concerts. Nearby, an Irish pub has special offers of Pimm's, apparently quite appreciated by the locals, as the tables are full although it is just 17.30.
Close to the Freilichtbühne, an open air exhibition displays the latest archaeological findings regarding Augusburg, including the pine cone, the symbol of the city, displayed on all the coat of arms and historical buildings.
After effing history and art destinations, it is time to feel the vibe of the city. Off I am on Dominikanusgasse, where I am having a little tour of the small jewellery store, a high occurence in Augsburg. There are many creative ceramics studios and workshops, where artists are working hard to finish the delicate pieces of jewellery. My recommendations are: Julia Galerie, Luxus, Alte Silverschmeide
The painter Holbein also lived nearby, and the famous rebel writer Bertold Brecht was born a couple of streets away. Around 18.00, the restaurants are getting fully booked and more and more young people are ready to enjoy their outdoors Friday evening. Small bridges connects shops and streets over the water and the smooth music of the water brings more cosyness to the entire ambiance.
I am back in the cityhall area, currently undergoing massive renovation works. The huge square offers good vantage points over the entire area and hungry enough after so much walking, I order some pasta and bruschetta, plus homemade lemonade at the Aposto restaurant. The choices are good and definitely the service even much better.
Ready, I walk for some more minutes around the big square, and have a look at the Weberplatz, with many shops about to close and coffee houses.
The development of Augsburg was at a great extent connected with the history of Függer family, which play a predominat role in the banking history of Europe in the 15th and 16th century. They were powerful and resourceful enough to replace the Medicis, with both power and financial strength. Among their many contributions to the development of the banking system, they also created the oldest social settlement in the world: The Fugerei. Situated on Ochsengasse 51, this complex - comprising 67 houses and 140 apartments - also hosts a museum about the influencial family and some small eateries. Originally, it also included a chapel and a school. 
With all the information and the beautiful sightseeing, it seems that my short trip to Augsburg reached its goal. I had the chance to learn and check some historical facts while enjoying walking in the middle of a city that might look cold at first, but that seems to be fond of its far away visitors. Most probably, a next visit will be for sure part of my future travel agenda. 

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