Monday, December 1, 2008

The World’s Largest Advent Calendar (Gengenbach, Germany)

Deep in the Black Forest in south-west Germany, lays a timeless gem of half-timbered houses and cobbled streets. Delightfully untouristy, this medieval travel wonder is a mixture of city gates, narrow laneways, and steep-roofed, romantic houses with scarlet and white blooms dribbling from their window boxes.

In the 24 days up to Christmas, the salmon-pink baroque town hall (rathaus) in the triangular-shaped main square becomes the main feature. Early each evening in the shadows of a huge central Christmas tree, one of the town hall’s 24 backlit windows (two rows of eleven plus the two roof windows) is ritually unveiled showing a colourful festive image – undoubtedly making it the world’s largest Advent calendar.

Behind the town hall, the plain exterior of St Marien’s church is in stark contrast to the richly decorated interior. The walls and ceiling are covered with detailed, colourful frescoes from various stories of the bible and the altar is lit in a shimmering golden light.

This small town is rich in such traditions hosting a rousing street carnival, traditional in this area, called fastnacht or fasend, where participants in garish outfits and large wooden masks dance down the streets in a large parade.

Ease back in one of the small cafes and feast on hearty country lunch from the neighbouring farms or indulge in a large calorific slice of the famed black-forest cake. Enjoy the slow-paced, historic and elegant village of Gengenbach, especially over December with the giant illustrated Advent calendar.

Notes
Photo Source: Advent, fastnacht

6 comments:

Cecil Lee said...

Surely it's the least known icon in Gengenbach, or even Germany for tourists who reside in the other part of the world. Maybe it just me but I really love to visit there if I got the chance (or got the money and time :) )

eunice said...

*scream*!!! What a lovely town! You mentioned it's in Blackforest? I only visited Munich. I wish I could have covered more of Germany. Europe Europe, when will I see you again? @_@

Suzanne Perazzini said...

This is certainly a beautiful town. It looks as if it was made especially for tourists. The inhabitants look after it well.

Mark H said...

@cecil: I only discovered it when I stayed a few kms away from it and it was recommended to me. Nearby Schiltach has even more half-timbered houses and Gutach (also 10 kms away) has a fine open-air museum (another entry maybe).

@eunice: The Black Forest has lots of these cutesy village-towns.

@suzanne: It was kept in an immaculate state. Everything so neat and clean. Obviously very proud inhabitants and rightly so.

Lifecruiser said...

Man, that is just so übercool!!!! I want a calendar like that too.

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