The MyGermanCity.com G-ZINE
The MyGermanCity.com G-ZINE — the Germany Magazine — provides you with news, updates and happenings in and around Germany. While saving you valuable time, this e-zine prepares you and sets you up for an unforgettable Germany experience.
Jüdische Kulturtage (Days of Jewish Culture)
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Berlin's Jüdische Kulturtage, a week long festival (of sorts) celebrating Berlin's Jewish culture. Throughout the week you'll find everything from concerts to comedy acts, movie premieres to museum exhibitions. Berin's Jewish Community is thriving, so these "Days of Jewish Culture" are sure to continue long after the week is over.
Every November 6th (unless it falls on a Sunday) you need to be in Bad Tölz. Not just because of its fine Bavarian atmosphere, but for the pilgrimage known as the Leonhardifahrt. Tens of thousands line the streets as men ride their regal horses, and brightly decorated horses escort beautiful ladies towards the Leonhardikapelle.
The event has its roots in religious history (as St. Leonhard is the Patron Saint of cattle), but everyone is welcome to enjoy the spectacle.
Speaking of spectacles, no city celebrates Carnival quite like Cologne (sorry, Berlin). While everyone associates the pre-Lenten event to February/March, the season begins on Nov 11 at precisely 11:11am. Really? Sure! This is Germany, do you really doubt it wouldn't start on time? Anyway, the time and date are actually significant. Some connect the date with the pre-Advent season and/or harvest celebrations of St. Martin's Day, others associate the number eleven to the "fool," and we all know Carnival is quite the time to be foolish. Either way, go ahead, let your hair down and truly enjoy Cologne's (and Germany's) Fifth Season. :-)
500 Years of the Reformation in Celle
Ok, the actual date of Luther's Reformation might have technically passed last month but that doesn't mean the milestone anniversary ended on October 31st. This is a great exhibition on Reformation history in Celle—how two princes spending time with their uncle, met Luther himself, then brought his ideals back with them. What's great about Celle's exhibit is how it brings to modern day how people lived back then. Must've been difficult—no indoor plumbing. ;-)
German-Turkish Museum Festival
If the colder weather wants to keep you indoors then come to the German-Turkish Museum Festival. It's not as if you'll just be staring at inanimate objects at a museum-there are folklore dances, film screenings, and literature to learn about. This all ties into Hannover's Turkish Culture Days, so actually there are other events (let's not even get into the whole food thing) throughout the city up until Nov 26.
Wow, here it is—the first Christmas Market mention of 2017. You know it's hard to choose which Market to write about, but there's always something magical about Bavaria. Here on the Romantic Road you'll find charmingly decorated Christmas stalls, along with little cafes for some hot coffee for the weary shopper. There's plenty of time to explore as the Christmas Market is open until 8pm.
Kürbisausstellung (Pumpkin Festival)
Each Pumpkin Festival might have its own theme (this year: Rome), but you'll find this famous festival to be way beyond sculptures made from the gourd. There's storytelling for the kids, plenty of food made from pumpkin, music, artistic pumpkin carving, and even decorated pumpkins to buy. I gotta tell ya, Ludwigsburg is big on the pumpkin—but not sure if I'll ever be brave enough to try a pumpkin burger.
There's more to Bremen's Christmas Market than just over 150 decorated stalls under the watchful eye of the city's UNESCO Roland statue. It's so lovely to just meander around to see the Christmas window displays of the local stores, or stroll along the Weser River's promenade to find merchants transporting you back to a time long gone. For many, Bremen is one of their favorite places this time of year, and if it isn't yours yet—it will be.
All right, all right, I get it—not all of you out there are Jazz fans. That doesn't mean you can't find something that might strike your fancy at the annual Jazz Festival here in Berlin. This is one seriously popular festival, so it's best if you get your tickets early. Events are held in venues all around town, so you just might find a new spot to love if you've enjoyed this festival in the past.
"It is even better to act quickly and err than to hesitate until the time of action is past."
Listen, do not try to question how I make connections in my head (I gave up years ago doing that). Perhaps it was the fact that Stralsund was hidden away behind the Iron Curtain for a good chunk of late 20th century life—yet this town's history dates back much further.
And if you're not familiar with Stralsund, you need to be. Stralsund rose to prominence in the 13th century as a Hanseatic City, becoming quite wealthy in the process. In an effort to "display" the town's wealth, residents built the Gothic brick Town Hall. You can't miss this marvelous 13th century building as it's right on the Alter Markt.
Right next door is the local Tourist Office. As you know, the nice people there are here to help you get the most out of your visit. But let me be the first to tell you, a trip to Stralsund is only complete when seeing some of the town's medieval churches.
As with most places that have a number of old churches, I always have a favorite—and it was exceptionally hard to choose this time (so I refuse to do so here), but the ornate portal of the Nikolaikirche (built late 13th century) is stunning. That's not to take away from the impressive tower of the Marienkirche (14th century), or the stunning in its simplicity of the Jakobikirche (14th century, too).
Two Cloisters from the Middle Ages can be found in Stralsund, too. While the Johanniskloster gets to boast some lovely half-timbered buildings, it's the Katharinenkloster that's got a bit more going on.
The latter's old monastery is now home to the Maritime Museum, but also the Museum of Cultural History. One outstanding exhibit is the Hiddenseer Goldschmuck. Yeah, doesn't sound so great off the English tongue, but these sixteen pieces of 10th century Viking gold are a delight to the eyes. Those pillage and plundering Vikings sure knew how to make beautiful jewelry.
Stralsund, on the other hand, knows how to show its residents and visitors a good time. This family-friendly town hosts a number of cultural events throughout the year. As this is November I'll start with this year's Christmas Market (held Nov 28th-Dec 22nd), although the skating rink is open until January.
Warmer months bring on events like the Wallensteintage (Wallenstein Days) every July, held in honor of a man who defended the city. During the summer the town hosts events for the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Still, there's plenty of time to enjoy the strandkorb dotted beach.
The cooler months (like October) brings on events like the Rügenbrückenlauf (Rügen Bridge Run, third Saturday), and on the first Saturday in September is the Lange Nacht des offenen Denkmals, an evening where everything is open later for an evening of fun, music, and food.
Mmm, food. You certainly won't go hungry here—and being so close to so much water you'll find plenty of fresh fish dishes in addition to cafes, beer gardens, brasseries, and coffee shops.
In my humble opinion, there's no way to fully express the beauty of Stralsund—it simply just has to be seen yourself. So, please take a guided City Tour (there are a number of them), or for you folks who like the seedier side of things sometimes (like me), there are Night Watchman Tours starting at 9pm on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Hey, I never did one of those in Prague—maybe one day it will hit me why I connected Stralsund with it.
There have been many days where I've dreaded writing the G-ZINE, for simply one reason. No, it's not you, my loyal readers, it's not knowing what to write about here in the Good to Know. Silly me, right?
There's a whole country that's got good to know information—and not all of it can be condensed into a handful of paragraphs. So, I write it in installments; this one being the third of Germany's Jewish History (and Present).
There's no way to write about Germany history without touching on the ugly stain of National Socialism, and I'm not here to sugarcoat it. What I am here to do is tell you that places like Dachau, once the model for Nazi Concentration Camps, is now a museum where everyday people can educate themselves so never to repeat the same atrocities.
In March 2018 it will be 85-years since the first Concentration Camp opened, becoming the "model" for all the others that followed. Dachau, just northeast of Munich, is now a free museum with both temporary and permanent exhibitions of life in the camp.
Information boards (in both German & English) are found in the permanent exhibition known as the "Path of the Prisoners," detailed with drawings and firsthand accounts of the horrors within its walls.
Dachau might have been the first, but sadly isn't the only because in Lower Saxony, in the Celle District, there's also Bergen-Belsen. If you've ever heard of Anne Frank, then you know of Bergen-Belsen, because this is where the young Jewish girl died in the last days of World War II.
Bergen-Belsen was never intended to be a death camp for Europe's Jewish population, it was supposed to be just a POW camp. Miss Frank might be the camp's most famous victim, but buried within the compound are some 20,000 Russian soldiers, as well as Italian and Polish ones, too.
The Anne Frank Documentation Center is a museum with both written documents and photos and stories of the camp's survivors and victims. It's open daily from 10am-5pm from October to March and from 10am-6pm April to September. Admission to the camp is free, but you will have to pay just a few Euro for a 90 minute guided tour if you want one.
Bergen-Belsen is just 25km to Celle, where you'll find the oldest half-timbered synagogue in Lower Saxony. Not much of the Jewish house of worship survived Kristallnacht in November 1938, but this charming building (found at Im Kreise 24 & doubles as a Jewish Community Center) offers guided tours on request.
I must admit, it was a pleasant surprise the interior of the synagogue was bright, light, and cheery. For some strange reason, I always expect half-timbered buildings to be dark and cramped. Ahhh, the crazy stuff that goes on in my head. ;-)
Also in Lower Saxony is the thriving Jewish Community in Hanover. There are some seven centuries of Jewish history in this understated city, and after World War II from the 60-plus local Jewish survivors who returned—there are now approximately 5,000 Jewish residents in the area.
No doubt you should come see the local synagogue (Häckelstraße 10). The local Chabad Organization can help Jewish travelers find kosher food, as well as it organizes community events for holidays like Hanukah.
Hanover is also home to the European Center for Jewish Music. Housed in a gorgeous early 20th century mansion (known as Villa Seligmann at Hohenzollernstraße 39), the Center offers courses in Jewish music, International Conferences, and even has its own library.
Oooh, libraries, my happy place with all those books. And the next Jewish Germany Good to Know installment must have Düsseldorf off the list—hometown of Heinrich Heine, a German writer who just so happened to be Jewish.
With all this Good to Know information, maybe I won't have so much anxiety writing these from here on out. Until next month's issue, that is. ;-)
Short 'n sweet, here's what's coming up next in Germany — a preview of the next G-ZINE:
Published by Marcus Hochstadt
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