What Travel Writers Say

Germany's 'Green' City

© By Adam Southwood
  Town Panorama Freiburg sits in the Breisgau region on the western edge of the Black Forest and straddles the Dreisam River, on the foothills of the Schlossberg. It was founded by Konrad and Duke Bertold III of Zahringen in 1120 as a free market town; hence the name, which translates as "free (or independent) town," "frei" meaning "free" and burg, like the English word, borough, was used in those days for an incorporated city or town. The German word "burg" also means "a fortified town" as in Hamburg; thus, it's likely that the name ultimately means a "fortified town of free citizens."
     Strategically located at a junction of trade routes between the Mediterranean and the North Sea areas, and the Rhine and Danube rivers, in 1200, Freiburg's population of a mere 6,000 people began construction of its cathedral on the site of an old parish church. It was completed in 1513 as a Gothic cathedral.
     Silver mines in Mount Schauinsland were a ready source of capital for Freiburg, turning Freiburg into one of the richest cities in Europe; in fact, in 1327, Freiburg minted its own coin, the Rappenpfennig.
     In 1457, one of Germany's oldest universities was established here. Unfortunately, Freiburg was heavily bombed during WWII, but after the war, it was rebuilt on its medieval plan.
     With its picturesque beauty, warm and sunny climate and easy access to the Black Forest, Freiburg is a tourist hub. The longest cable car run in Germany, which is 3.6 km, (2.25 m) long runs from Günterstal up to a nearby mountain called Schauinsland.

Town Hall  Town Centre Stream  Spire  Old Town Gate  Merchant Hall  Housing 

     The Augustinerplatz is one of the central squares in the old city. Formerly the location of an Augustine monastery which became the Augustinermuseum in 1921, it is now a popular hangout for Freiburg's young residents. With restaurants and bars, including the local brewery, on warm summer nights, hundreds of students gather here.
     At the centre of the old city is the Münsterplatz, its largest square. A farmers' market takes place here every day except Sundays. This is the site of Freiburg's Munster Cathedral, constructed of red sandstone and noted for its towering spire.
     Politically, the Green party is dominant here, exhibiting the strongest numbers of any major German city and controlling as much as 25% of the votes city-wide, in some neighbourhoods reaching 40% or more. Consequently, newly built neighbourhoods were developed and built according to the concept of sustainability, as citizens are known for their appreciation of both cycling and re-cycling. In 1992, the city council adopted a resolution that permits construction only of "low energy buildings," using solar power passively as well as actively. In addition to solar panels and collectors on the roof which provide electricity and hot water, many passive features employ the sun's energy to regulate the temperature of the rooms.

Hot Thermal Spa  Flower & Vegetable Market  Christmas Market  Cathedral  Cathedral  Cathedral 

     Recommended is a city walking tour to take in the main buildings of the town, which starts on Rotteckring. The Tourist Office building, designed by Joseph Schlippe and built in 1935-36, was the first modern arcaded building in Freiburg and, as such, was an important forerunner of Schlippe's plan for reconstruction, following the destruction of the city centre on Nov. 27th, 1944. Today, "free" and "fortified" are concepts that remain treasured in this lovely German city.

Adam Southwood writes for Canadian, U.S. and European magazines and newspapers. He is a graduate of both McMaster University in Hamilton and UWO in London with an interest in culture and history. He has produced several educational programs for TV.

Photo Credits
Baden-Wurttemberg Tourism

If you go
Freiburg, Germany
as seen on
Baden-Wurttemberg Tourism: http://www.baden-baden.de/en/tourism/
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freiburg,_Germany
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Freiburg

What's happening, money, distance, time?
Media Guide: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/
Currency conversion: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Distance calculator: http://www.indo.com/distance/
Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/

Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Google interactive map: http://maps.google.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/


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