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This post was originally published on July 14, 2012, and updated on June 16, 2020.
Last week I described my trip to Erlangen, at least as far as lunch is concerned. That’s where I’ll pick up the story. So, with a stomach full of tasty Vietnamese food, I set out to find what else Erlangen had in store for me.
I backtracked to the Huguenot church near the train station. I passed by it and headed for the castle. In front of this castle was the enormous Market Square, It was constructed along with the rest of the so-called “new town” in the late 1600s by the Margrave Christian Ernst for the Huguenots.
In the foreground of this photo you can see the back of a big statue of Margrave Friedrich, a later ruler who founded the Friedrich University here in 1743. On the far side of the square you can make out the big Pauli fountain, so-named because a local merchant named Mr. Pauli and his wife footed the bill.
Here’s the front of the Friedrich statue. Behind the statue is the baroque castle, which now houses the university admin offices. At the top of the castle are sculptures by Elias Räntz:
Here’s a closer shot of the huge Pauli fountain, dating from 1886:
It’s enormous! And very impressively done, too. If I felt like spending the next hour uploading even more photos to this blog, I’d show you all the detail shots I took of it.
Next I headed around the side of the castle to see the gardens behind it. On the way, I saw this fellow “guarding” the local café:
He was quite popular among photographers. And, yes, he’s real!
Directly behind the castle is this interesting fountain, also by Räntz. Its sandstone was quarried from a local hillside called Burgberg. Remember that name; you’ll see it a little later.
The bottom level is composed of Huguenots and at the top of this pig pile is Margrave Ernst.
To the left of this fountain is the Orangerie, built as a greenhouse to grow orange trees and other tropicals for the castle inhabitants. You might remember this term from the Orangerie at the Schloss Seehof in a previous post. I just thought it was hysterical that the Orangerie was painted orange!
Those statues around the top are by our buddy Räntz as well. He was a busy guy!
I wandered a little ways into the castle garden. They had just had their giant annual castle garden party the previous weekend and were still cleaning up from it. But it was a wonderfully peaceful area.
Now we come to my absolute favorite part of my trip: the Botanical Garden. These five acres were designated as a botanical garden in 1747 for the university
I entered them through a gate in the fence between the castle garden and the Botanical Garden. It was like stepping from one enchanted place into another. There were fairly manicured landscaped areas:
There was some kind of camping exhibit. The sign says, “Be right back.” However, upon closer inspection I could tell it was not actually a campsite. I’m still not sure what it was all about, but I guess it was to make the surrounding “forest” more believable.
I picked my way through the dense growth on well-maintained paths. I saw a rock garden and dense undergrowth. Every plant was labeled. It was incredible!
Eventually I came to the greenhouse buildings:
The pools in the foreground had lots of different lotus flowers:
There was a cactus garden out front:
Inside the greenhouse was a tropical rain forest, complete with rain:
And a very hot cactus room:
Back outside I found smaller greenhouse structures, each with a particular kind of climate inside:
There was even a Japanese garden area:
In short, it was a very well done botanical garden! There were thousands upon thousands of plants and they were kept well without looking too manicured. Everything was classified and the entrance was free. I highly recommend this. If I lived there, I’d go read there often!
Next I followed my tour map and found the old electric company, E-Werk, near the river. It was originally opened in 1902 and served electricity to the area until 1945. Today it’s a concert venue and cultural center.
When I climbed the stairs back up to the old town area, I saw this sign on the side of a building:
It says, “Bath house – oldest building in the Old Town with Hohenzollern coat of arms.” I found that the Hohenzollerns were a pretty important royal family back in the day.
When I reached the street, I saw the old town hall, which is now a city archive and museum.
A couple of blocks away I found what remains of the old Medieval city walls, still holding up the embankments for today’s houses. To the right of this photo is the Schwabach river:
When I was about to take the picture of the old city walls, a cab turned into the street in front of me. However, the driver waited just out of frame until I lowered the camera before driving into what would have been my photo. Then he smiled and waved as he drove past. Cool, huh?
Here are some other random shots I took on my walk around the town:
Next I headed over the river Schwabach to see a sculpture garden on the Burgberg, which I mentioned earlier.
Along the way I passed this factory, and I could hear the satisfying hums and clicks of machinery inside. I looked through the fence and could see workers busy at production. I found out later that this company makes pencil sharpeners!
Across the street was this Mexican restaurant. I liked the mixture of different languages on the sign:
Further up the street was a traditional German restaurant and beer garden. Here’s how I could tell it was traditional German fare:
The area was well known in the past for the proliferation of beer cellars (Bierkeller). Beer cellars are different from beer gardens and pubs in that they started out as actual cellars dug into the hillside where brewers kept their beer during the winter for summer consumption. In the summer, most beer cellars had a small outdoor area nearby where they sold beer and cold food while the weather was nice.
There has been a famous beer fest in June each year centering on this area since 1775.
I trudged up and up the side of Burgberg (1,089 feet high). Burgberg is the name of the hill but looked to me like it was also the name of a well-to-do neighborhood. It’s a funny name, too, not only because of the way it sounds but also because it means, unexcitingly, “town hill.”
I was committed to see the sculpture garden featuring work by Erlangen son Heinrich Kirchner. I almost turned back a couple of times but persevered to the top. I was rewarded with some really cool, very large metal creatures:
You can see here the gouge in the hillside where they quarried sandstone, like in that fountain above. Guidebook says it was quarried as long ago as 1400. I don’t think they cut much rock here today, though.
I caught my breath on a park bench and enjoyed the peaceful afternoon for a while. Presently, I made my way back down the hill and back across the river via a different route. This route was a footpath over some small bridges and through a nice green forest. There were also some concrete table tennis tables and other recreational features along the way.
Back in town, I strolled around in the general direction of the train station. Along the way I passed a theater building that is locally famous for quality performances. On the side of the building was this graffiti:
It says, “I love you, Grandpa.” Kinda sweet.
I also saw this interesting garage.
Notice the metal beds the cars are parked on. I could see two more cars parked under them! Europeans are very clever in the use of space, and this is a prime example. If you back these cars out of their parking places, you can raise the metal beds to the ceiling and bring up the cars below. Neat, huh?
My overall impression of Erlangen was not that of a tourist city, but of a moderately bustling college town with lots of good places to eat and drink. It’s pleasant to look at and makes a good daytrip from Nuremberg. Of course, the Botanical Garden is top-notch!
Erlangen has its history, of course, but is not in the business of emphasizing it. More often than not, its quiet streets were ivy-covered.
I hope you enjoyed my trip with me. I have a few really cool daytrips planned in the near future, so I hope to report on them very soon, too. Hope you’re having a great summer!
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