We probably had our longest day drive from Rothenburg to Augsburg on the 13th day of our trip from Oslo to Southern Germany. We arrived mid-afternoon in Augsburg and discovered that we were in fact in a reasonably large city of around 300,000 citizens. Our home for the next two nights was Hotel Maximilian in Maximillian Strasse; from our first parking spot in town, it looked like the main street of the city. Given we had been privileged over the last two weeks to stay in much smaller medieval towns, the shock of modernity hit home to discover we were back in a complex urban space that appeared to be being rebuilt before our eyes. The sound of jackhammers was everywhere. It was the most inauspicious start to a visit of any so far on our trip but we discovered that after two days exploring Augsburg, we realised we were in a very impressive Bavarian city.
In the foyer of our hotel there was a curious sculpture on the wall over the hotel’s main entrance which seemed a little out of place. It showed the sculptured heads of three Abyssinian (Ethiopian) monks who apparently had visited the town of Augsburg towards the end of the 15th century. The story goes that they were looked after by the original hotelier on this site because it was a very cold winter and before their departure in summer, their portrait was taken. After I questioned one of the hotel’s assistants about these curious visitors, she very kindly gave me a history of the hotel. It included a list of 18th century guests that included such luminaries as Casanova, Wolfgang Mozart and Goethe. It also noted that like so many buildings we encountered on the way through Germany, this hotel, except for the façade, was burnt to the ground by aircraft bombing in 1944.
Outside the hotel’s entrance, there was a grand fountain dedicated to Hercules which we were able to use as our marker that told us we had arrived back at our hotel. One of Augsburg’s significant claims to fame is its water management system that was declared a UESCO World Heritage site in 2019. There are three such large fountains connected to the water system in Augsburg and this one was installed in 1603. We would encounter the other two large city fountains on our walks around the centre of town.
We asked one of the hotel receptionists for a restaurant recommendation nearby for our evening meal before we left on our first stroll around the centre of Augsburg. She gave us one that we could find in the centre of town in a platz not far from the Rathaus. We headed down Maximillian Strasse and made a left turn at Moritz Platz. This was a significant spot in town because on the corner was the attractive Church of St Moritz, the photo on the left below was taken near the other significant local site nearby, the fountain of Mercury. St Moritz (Maurice) was a Roman Military Captain who also happened to be an early Christian. He refused orders to randomly execute locals on one of the campaigns he was involved in and this refusal resulted in all members of his legion being executed. He is the patron saint of many professions including knights. His huge image is painted on the wall of this Catholic Church, a building that was also destroyed during WW2 and rebuilt in 1946.
Below are images of the Mercury Fountain, the second major piece of the town’s famous Water Management System; if we had have continued on down Maximillian Strasse, we would have encountered the third and the most amazing fountain, The Augustus Fountain. These three facilities sit in a straight line down this main street of Augsburg.
We had booked our two nights in Maximillian Hotel, walked down Maximillian Strasse and after turning left at the church of St Moritz, we found ourselves at the back of the large Museum building in Augsburg, Maximillian Museum (below). They were all named after the Bavarian King Maximilian II. We would encounter this character again when we visited his castle in southern Germany as well as his giant statue in Munich.
From Moritz Platz we veered right and found ourselves in Martin Luther Plaztz. Martin Luther (1483-1546), was the leader of the Reformation in Germany and spent some time in the monastery around the corner in 1518. The photo below left was taken in a passageway in St Anna’s Church, further along in Anna Strasse and shows a famous portrait of Luther produced by Lucas Cranach around 1532. St Anna’s Church was originally built as a Carmelite Monastery in 1321 and the famous local Fugger Family built a chapel in this precinct for the burial of family members in 1509. This chapel is the earliest example of Renaissance architecture north of the alps.
The street that runs past the Martin Luther Plaza is called Anna Strasse and we walked down this street before we turned right through a shopping arcade that took us through to the centre of the ‘altstadt’ of Augsburg, the Rathaus Platz. It was getting late in the afternoon and so we took advantage of the bars which had spread their chairs and tables over a large section of the platz’s coble stones. We decided we needed a drink after our long day before looking for our evening restaurant.
The image below is of the Rathaus Platz, particularly the view from our platz table. On the right of the photo is the town’s Rathaus and this town hall was a magnificent place to visit as we found out on our guided tour the next day. The bell tower to the left of the Rathaus is called the perlachturm (Perlach Tower) which began its life as watchtower in the 10th century. It sits in front the church of St Peter am Perlach.
In the image above, the statue of Augustus can be seen against the background of the Perlach Tower, standing astride the sculptural riot that was the fountain named after him. We would return to this area in the morning for a closer look at this beautiful centre of town.
Visiting Augsburg…Day 2, Morning
Visiting Augsburg…Day 2, Afternoon