Erfurt (air-furt), once a small medieval village, is a 1,250-year-old city in Thüringen, Germany (central Germany) boasting of 200,000 in population today. In 742 it was founded as a Catholic Church diocese by St. Boniface (Bishop of the Germanic Territories), who had set out to evangelize and reorganize the Catholic Church in Germany. He had laboured in Hesse, Thuringia, and Frisia.
There are numerous historic buildings in the area of the old town. Of religious historical importance and significance to Erfurt is the Augustian Monastery where Martin Luther became a monk and was ordained a Catholic priest before his break from the Church. In front of the monastery is a hole filled with rubble (rubble of the old historic monastery library)...one might say it looks like an archeological dig. In 1945 over 250 people died when British planes dropped two bombs on the library.
Erfurt and the Thuringian Basin are known for the woad plant and in particular its dry leaves, which were a source of a valuable blue textile dye once used for many years. Woad has been cultivated, processed, and traded in Erfurt since the 13th century. It brought prosperity, growth, and power to the city.
The Domplatz is a large square that leads to St. Mary's Cathedral, to St. Severus Church, and to the walled Baroque fortress on the Petersberg. Around the Domplatz are many other historical buildings which survived the wars. One such would be an 18th century apothecary. At times part of the Domplatz is hustling and bustling with market activity. Vendors in booths and stalls sell their crafts, flowers, garden vegetables, and food items (sausages, sandwiches, potatoes, beer, spiced wines, etc.).
Traditional German Potato Dumplings
2 tbsp. butter 1 egg 4 qt. water
The Krämerbrücke (120 meters long) over the River Gera with its two main channels is the only inhabited bridge north of the Alps. It is flanked on its perimeter by numerous houses/shops with small boutiques, galleries, art and woodcarving studios near the front. It was initially built of wood but rebuilt in stone in 1325. There were originally 62 narrow buildings, but later with redevelopment only 32 buildings remained. There were originally two churches at the heads of the bridges, but only the Church of St. Aegidius is still standing.
Here in the area known as the Wenigemarkt ("Little Market") and next to the tunnel sits The Ägidienkirche (St. Aegidius Church) constructed in the early 1320s as a replacement for a 12th century roadside chapel. Today it serves the Methodists.
Today within the city one sees small boutiques, galleries, bookshops, woodcarving and porcelain workshops, pottery and glassblowing studios...many representing the crafts of artisans of centuries ago.
These colorful houses and buildings appear in the main area of the city. Modern apartments and offices are often tucked behind medieval or Renaissance houses in the historic center. Although the interior of the old houses are gutted and renovated, the facade on the street side will look unchanged after construction.
The doorway (at night) on the right is the portal remnant of the old Erfurt Innenstadt (old university) which during World War II was destroyed by Allied bombing. Founded in 1392 the old University of Erfurt was the fourth-oldest in Germany. When the Prussians ruled in 1816, they closed the university, and it wasn't until 1994 when a new university opened its door.
Johannes Church Tower
Historic buildings and structures around the city have plaques or markers identifying when they were built, how they were first used, and the purpose they serve today.
A cobblestone path, stone walls, and weathered doors give hints of life as it may have been in earlier times. Joe Hancock takes time to study the doorway of this old building.
In the 13th and 14th centuries, Erfurt was known to have had a large Jewish community. However, they were banned from the city in 1458. It wasn't until the late 1700s that a Jewish people began to return to the city, and full citizenship wasn't awarded until 1810. In 1840 a Jewish synagogue was built.
At the top of the Petersberg (a hill) overlooking the city is the extensively preserved Peterberg Zitadelle (Petersberg Citadel), a military baroque fortress from 1665 to 1963. This was the site of a former Benedictine monastery built in the 12th century. One walks a cobblestone bridge crossing the moat to climb to the portal entrance of the Zitadelle. Barracks were located on the top floor of the Zitadelle. Today the lower floor houses a museum and shops. From the street is also a walkway of steps up the Petersberg to the Zitadelle and below the perimeter of the Petersberg one enters the modern world of the Parkhaus Domplatz, the underground parking garage.
Apfeltasche (apple turnover) Bier (beer) Brathuhn (roast chicken) Bratwurst mit Sauerkraut und Kartoffelpüree, (grilled sausage with sauerkraut & mashed potatoes) Eier mit Speck (bacon and eggs) Eintopf (meat and vegetable stew) Eisbein (pork knuckle) Folienkartoffel, gebackene Pellkartoffel (baked potato) Gulash Suppe (Hungarian goulash) Hühnersuppe (chicken soup) Karpfen (baked carp) Kartoffelklosse (potato dumpling) Knödel (dumplings) Lammhax´n mit Backkartoffel und Kräuterrahm" (Lamb shanks with jacket potato) Mineralwasser (bottled fizzy mineral water) Maultaschen (meat dumplings) Sauerbraten (roast beef) Sauerkraut (sauerkraut) Schinken (ham) Schnitzel (usually veal) Schweinebraten (roast pork) Spaetzle (noodles or dumplings) Spargelsuppe (asparagus soup) Stilles Wasser (bottled plain water)
Cover meat (Pot Roast, Chuck Roast, Round Roast, or Rump Roast: 4-5 lbs. or smaller) for 2 days (in refrigeration) with vinegar & water (1/2 & 1/2) and onions (4 or 5), 5 or 6 bay leaves, 6 or 8 whole cloves, 1 tbsp. salt. In 2 days drain meat, brown in fat, add some of the vinegar and water mixture, a little sugar, and salt until meat is done. (Keep adding water as necessary.)
(Jeanne's Quick Recipe)
Cover meat (Pot Roast, Chuck Roast, Round Roast, or Rump Roast: 4-5 lbs. or smaller) for 2 days (in refrigeration) with vinegar & water (1/2 & 1/2) and onions (4 or 5), 5 or 6 bay leaves, 6 or 8 whole cloves, 1 tbsp. salt. In 2 days drain meat, brown roast slowly on all sides in 1/4 cup of oil using heavy skillet/kettle. Pour off excess oil. Add 1/2 cup chopped onions, 2 tsp. salt, 2 tbsp. mixed pickling spices, 1 cup red wine vinegar, 3 cups of water, 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar. Simmer 2 1/2 to 4 hours until tender. Remove meat, keep warm. Strain liquid and use 4 cups or more and then add 12 or more crumbled ginger snaps. Cook and stir until slightly thickened. Slice meat and add to gravy. Serve atop browned in butter noodles. (Finely cut up 1 or 1 1/2 slices of bread can also be browned and used with the noodles.)
Our host, Richard Carlucci-Tenor (aka Richard Johnson), was born in Texas, made his debut in the Fort Worth Opera and sang in Sante Fe, Chicago, St. Louis, and San Francisco. His debut at Theater Erfurt occurred in 2006-2007. Richard had one of the leading roles in Rusalka and a supporting role in Tannhäuser. His wife, Stephanie Mann, sang with the background chorus in Tannhäuser. Joe and Barbara knew Richard in Texas.
There are three major market squares connected by a vast transportation network in Erfurt: Anger Square (on Bahnhofstrasse), the Fischmarkt (along Marktstrasse), and the Domplatz. At the Hauptbahnhof Station a BahnCard 25 was purchased to allow one to travel throughout Germany using their railway system at a discount. The train took us from Frankfurt to Erfurt, from Erfurt to Weimar, from Weimar back to Erfurt, and then homeward bound from Erfurt back to Frankfurt.