Travelogue LXIX: Fachwerk

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Eschwege

May 4, 2016 I spent a weekend in April in Eschwege, a tiny, lovely, half-forgotten German town on the former border between East and West Germany. Although not necessarily a popular tourist destination, the town is full of fascinating architecture–Fachwerk, to be specific, which translates to something like timber framing. It’s a quintessentially German form of construction, in which a load-bearing timber frame is built and the spaces between the beams filled with bricks or lath and plaster. Instead of covering the outside of the buildings with plaster or clapboards, however, the beams are left exposed and then carved and painted according to local traditions, each town or geographical area with a slightly different style.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEschwege was left intact during the second World War, which means that the buildings are original. Many, however, are fairly new by European standards: much of the town center only dates back to the mid-seventeenth century, as the town center was destroyed during the Thirty Years War in 1637.

In the downtown area, each building is unique, painted in jewel tones and carved with curlicues or geometric shapes or faces or mermaids. Yes, mermaids. I was delighted.

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Moustaches ftw.

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Although Fachwerk is today a prized and sought-after part of Germany’s architectural heritage, it was originally a poor man’s construction–if you can’t afford stone, you build with wood.

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Keeping things level wasn’t exactly a priority, apparently. Or maybe things have shifted since the 17th century.

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The latinized form of the town’s name.

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My personal favorite.

And then in good German fashion, fitful rain turned to snow and so we headed for home, where we ate an enormous Sunday lunch with a fire in the stove behind our backs.

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My fellow Fachwerk-investigator, here rather taken by the local Glockenspiel.

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3 thoughts on “Travelogue LXIX: Fachwerk

  1. There are two basic types of “Fachwerk”: (1) statisches Fachwerk and (2) Sicht-Fachwerk. The first one simply provides structural stability and can be recognized by its straight beams. If they are visible at all, because they used to be covered with stucco. Only in the past 40 years were they uncovered for visual romantics. “Sicht-Fachwerk” was always meant for displaying wealth and status of the owner. Carvings, artfully curved beams following symetric rules and color are visual proof of this intent.

  2. Emily,  so beautiful. I love all the handwork. We see touches of the wood carving in York, but so many times it is pealing paint and rotting wood. People don’t have pride or else money to keep it nice. So much of the German ethics has been bred out of the people. But if you go to the next county of Lancaster, you see more of the neatness and pride. Lots of Amish live there. Granny

    From: Emily Abroad To: crgoodling@yahoo.com Sent: Thursday, May 5, 2016 6:55 PM Subject: [New post] Travelogue LXIX: Fachwerk #yiv0957500502 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv0957500502 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv0957500502 a.yiv0957500502primaryactionlink:link, #yiv0957500502 a.yiv0957500502primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv0957500502 a.yiv0957500502primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv0957500502 a.yiv0957500502primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv0957500502 WordPress.com | EmilyAbroad posted: “May 4, 2016 I spent a weekend in April in Eschwege, a tiny, lovely, half-forgotten German town on the former border between East and West Germany. Although not necessarily a popular tourist destination, the town is full of fascinating architecture–Fach” | |

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