Friday, April 19, 2013

2000 Years Modern

Yet another day trip on the Great Christmas Markets of 2011 Trip was to the city of Augsburg,   which had quite a different feel than the other towns we'd visited in Bavaria. While the city is beautiful, there was definitely a more modern vibe, ironic considering Augsburg was founded over 2000 years ago. Perhaps due to the large university that's there, perhaps it's the sleek and quiet tram running through the historic part of town, or maybe it's that the pedestrian streets are wide and bordered with freshly painted, brightly colored buildings. The market filled the main square in town and was refreshingly quiet on a drizzly weekday morning, so we sped through it quickly, sipped the requisite cup of gluhwein, then headed into the pedestrian zone to take in more of the city.

We came upon the Fuggerei,  a fascinating complex that is the world's oldest social settlement still in use today. In the early 1500s, one of Augsburg's rich citizens (Jakob Fugger) founded the project in order to house the city's poor. The rent was, and still is, one Rhenish Guilder per year ($1.15) for an apartment that has it's own kitchen, living room, bathroom, bedroom, and small bonus room. The settlement was designed to be a city within a city, so the Fuggerei has its own city walls, city gates that were locked at night (and still are), its own church, hospital, and so forth. The story of the Fuggerei just gets better - Jakob Fuggerei set up an endowment meant to cover the upkeep costs of the project, and that endowment still funds the Fuggerei today, 400 years later! I was so fascinated by this that I did a little bit of research. The original endowment was equal to $11,500, but in today's market, was the equivalent of about 3,750,000. So an endowment of under four million dollars is still working today to do its job...along with the 4euro per person entry fee for non-residents to enter the settlement gates.

Back in the Munich the following day, Nathan got a traditional, Bavarian breakfast of a white sausage, pretzel, and beer. It's some sort of special, breakfast beer...maybe...I don't really know. Is there such a thing as a breakfast beer in Bavaria? I wasn't paying attention as we were in this fabulous place that was part shop (like a World Market), part gourmet grocery store, and part exotic food court. Nathan decided to enjoy breakfast while I flitted about trying to decide between a basic croissant, some macaroons, a pretzel, some sort of yummy, fruit pie looking things, and a dozen other yummalicious foods. What better way to work off our calories than by climbing a church tower. At the top, we enjoyed the sun shining down on Munich's beautiful rooftops. In the afternoon, we visited my favorite market for which I have no pictures. While I loved the actual Christmas markets with their fancy, wooden booths, Christmas light trims, and glass or wooden ornaments, the Theresienweise market was more of an artsy market, so it was a nice departure from seeing the same ornaments over and over.

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