Monday, May 11, 2009


While in Frankfurt, we went to Hanau, the site of a famous historical museum.  Hanau's once famous residents, the Brothers Grimm (well known for their fairy tales) lived in the town and one section of the area behind the museum is dedicated to these famous sons of Hanau and a festival is held there each year in their honor.

The ground floor of the museum accommodates a history section with exhibitions on the history of building and topography in Hanau. The main themes are the mediaeval castle and its expansion and conversion into an 18th century palace, Hanau Old Town, Hanau New Town and the Judengasse (Jewish Quarter).  Unfortunately, we were taken to view the museum on a holiday, May 1st, and it was closed.  Protesters march down the main streets here and in Frankfurt causing everything to come to a temporary standstill.  May 1st is a great day for political protesting in Germany and, even though this is the "workers holiday" (somewhat like Labor Day in the U.S.), certain groups of people use it to protest every year.

As we viewed what little we could of the museum at Hanau, we noticed a wedding was about to take place.   The  museum is used as a spot for weddings because of the beautiful backdrop.  The bride and groom were waiting for the minister who was delayed because of protestors marching down the main street.  

The wedding gave us a chance to see Germans celebrating this most important day in the life of a man and woman. There was a small wedding party present with the bride dressed in her simple white gown with all but one guest dressed for the occasion and I almost thought he may have been trying to take the center of attention away from the bride!  

As you will see from this picture, it would hard to beat his costume, jewelery or hair.  What a picture that would make in 40 years when the couple haul out their wedding album to
 show friends!

Anyway, back to the museum.  I wish we could have seen all of the wonderful exhibits in this building. The first floor accommodates art and artefacts from Hanau dating up until the end of the 19th century. The highlights of this exhibition are the Hanau still life paintings and the collection of Dutch works by such artists as Peter Soreau, Abraham Bloemaert and Melchior Daniel Hondecoeter.  

We drove on to Staatspark Whelmsbad which began its existence as an elegant spa between 1777 and 1785.  It attracted both court society and the aspiring bourgeoisie. However, when its founder Wilhelm IX left Hanau in 1785 to take up the reigns of government as Landgrave in Kassel, the spa quickly fell from fashion.  The late baroque spa buildings line an avenue, surrounded by a park in the style of an English landscape garden. This is one of the earliest of its kind in Germany, an outstanding specimen of the garden of ”sensibility”, with atmospheric little buildings (castle, pyramid, hermitage etc.) which illustrate how the designers of the day sought to achieve sentimental effect.

Our guide drove us back to Frankfurt and, unfortunately, was not prepared for the fact that things were closed because of the Holiday. He took us by a brewery where the huge copper pots for brewing are in the front showroom of the building and down a street of car dealerships!  I don't know why he thought that would be interesting, but evidentially he did.

Inspired by the brewery, we drove to a square where a festival was going on in celebration of May 1st.  There were lots of people, music and stands with beer and sausages and pretzels for sale.  The square was a typical German square with typical German type buildings.  We bought some sausages, beer and a pretzel and strolled around for a while.  

We were driven around a few more areas and saw the opera house, several fountains and churches and an unusually decorated home/apartment building which was painted with magnificant flowers on the front.  We fiinally ended up at, you guessed it, another beer festival being held in a square near the hotel.


We then walked down to a bank building that has a viewing platform located on the 56th floor. It, fortunately, was open and we went up to see the city from above.  It was spectacular and we took many photos.  I think one of the better ones was this one of the river and part of the downtown area.  From the top of this building we could also see an atomic power plant in the distance and even some of the huge windmills that dot the German landscape.

So, even though we did not get to see some of the exhibits at several places, the weather was perfect, the food good, and the sites we saw were interesting.

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