Despite the fact that my trip to Kassel
for the dOCUMENTA art exhibit was a downer, I set my sights on the Albrecht Dürer exhibit in Nuremberg. Nuremberg is easily daytrippable from where I live in Bamberg, so the logistics were quite simple.
Albrecht Dürer is a son of Nuremberg, born there during the Renaissance in 1471. You can tour his house, which is preserved in the Old Town section. Although you might not know his name, I’m betting you have seen some of his artwork here and there along the line. He’s famous for a lot of images, but among them are a painting of a rabbit, a rendition of Adam and Eve, and the praying hands image that is popular among your grandmother’s set.
You can see photos of all his work here
The most interesting thing about Dürer for me is that he was so famous during his own lifetime – about the first German artist to achieve that. He was excellent at self-marketing and had the genius notion of making prints of his original artworks to sell. Painters had not done this before Dürer. Therefore, not only was he a good painter, he was also a very rich man.
Dürer’s artworks are distributed all over the world, and I’d seen many of them in places like the Louvre in Paris. However, this exhibit had gathered all his works from around the globe into the German National Museum in his hometown for a big, once-in-a-lifetime show wherein you could see his work altogether.
So, on a Sunday in August, I hopped a train and was soon in N-town. I hoofed the small distance from the station to the museum, congratulating myself on living so close and being there as the museum opened to beat the crowds. Then I rounded the corner to the museum and saw this:
I can stand in line for an opportunity to see this exhibit. No problem. So I stood there. And stood there. And stood there. The line barely moved. After about an hour the couple in front of me asked a passing museum staffer how long the wait might be. The answer: another hour. Because of the preservation standards for the artworks, they can only allow a certain number of people into the exhibit rooms at a time.
A little while later, the husband of said couple went inside for a bathroom break. When he returned he reported another line inside that was two or three times longer than the one we were in! That couple bailed and decided to just go see Old Town because they were on a tight schedule.
After another 15 minutes or so, I decided to bail as well. I figured I could come back on a weekday and it wouldn’t be as crowded. Since it was almost lunchtime, I headed to a good German restaurant I knew about that has some of the best schnitzel I’ve ever eaten (right, Cheryl?).
Along the way I saw this:
No wonder Europeans think our country is full of guns. The American stores in Europe are gun stores! Or fast foodrestaurants! Along the way I was also treated with this view of St. Lorenz church in the morning sun:
Nuremberg’s old town is quite large compared to many German cities and it has a few different squares. The square I was headed to is ostensibly the main one and where they hold the famous Christmas Market and in which the Schöner Brunnen
resides. This name translates literally as “Beautiful Fountain.” As opposed to the ugly ones, I guess. But it really is beautiful. It was built in the 1300’s and is about 62 feet tall.
Its figures depict the world view of the Holy Roman Empire, with philosophers, popes, etc.
The Gothic spire could have been atop a church steeple.
There is a brass ring built into the ornamental ironwork fencing. Its called the Messing Ring because it was supposedly made in the city of Messing. Legend has it that, if you turn the ring at least once all the way around, you will have good luck. There is usually a line waiting to turn the ring and people photographing each other doing it. You have to reach up quite high to turn it. The blonde woman in the blue dress is turning the ring in this photo. That fellow on the right with the blue backpack has more important things to do, such as photograph this wonderful structure.
This is me turning the ring:
Upstairs in one of the buildings bordering this square is the restaurant I was going to. It’s a traditional Bavarian
Gasthaus called Oberkrainer am Hauptmarkt. It was just warm enough that day to sit on the terrace overlooking the square – here you can see the fountain from my table:
And some really good beer plus the delicious schnitzel to go with it:
Across the square from the restaurant is the Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady.
Some believe that the Beautiful Fountain’s spire was originally intended for the bell tower of the Frauenkirche. Would have been a nice touch, don’tcha think?
Just under the Frauenkirche’s big blue clock is a glockenspiel:
Now, if you’ve ever wondered what exactly a glockenspiel is, it translates literally as “bell play.” In other words, something fun happens when the bells ring, usually when the clock strikes the hour, usually noon, as in this case. The entertainment in this glockenspiel is that some wooden guys parade in front of the main figure. Twice. I don’t pretend to know who all these people are, but my theory is that the big guy is God and the others are either apostles or bishops. In my experience, glockenspiels in Germany don’t normally exceed this level of excitement.
After lunch I crossed the square to try out the local ice cream café next to the church. Here’s a view from where I was sitting. Note the fountain. The church is to my right.
The ice cream was pretty good – not the best I’ve had here, though – and the espresso was tasty. At a nearby table I watched a French woman dozing in the sunshine as she was filling out postcards and her husband was sipping his beer. Two very nerdy German guys at another table talked increasingly more and more loudly as the beer level in their glasses decreased. Their huge German guffaws were interrupted when the cell phone of one of them rang – it was an R2D2 ringtone. People watching in Europe – ya can’t beat it!
Well, I didn’t get to see the Dürer exhibit that day, but I certainly enjoyed a very European Sunday afternoon. With a promise to myself of trying again soon, I eventually made my way back to the train station.
On the way I stopped in my most favoritist bookstore of all time which houses just about every art book that you can imagine— in multiple languages. I almost bought a book about Dürer there but decided that when I saw the exhibit I would buy the exhibit catalog instead.
In fact, I did try again the very next Thursday, so stay tuned for that in my next journal post!
Photo for No Apparent Reason: