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NUREMBERG - FRANCONIAN SWITZERLAND - MARIENBAD
RESUMING the journey from Ratisbon northward, a hilly drive of twelve hours will bring the traveller to Nuremberg, which bears internal evidence of its high antiquity. The castle, crowning the hill, has been the scene of many an historical event, and commands an extensive prospect of the surrounding country. In the chapel are a few paintings of Albert Durer, whose house still remains in the same state as when he died. A venerable old lime-tree has weathered some hundreds of
years in the court-yard of the castle. The gothic church of St. Lawrence may vie with some of our English cathedrals, with respect to the solemn and impressive aspect of its cloistered aisles and windows of stained glass, one of which is more than three hundred years old. St. Sebald's Church is likewise a fine old building, though of a different style to St. Lawrence. In the centre is the shrine, composed of a bronze casting, elaborately worked, in the form of a gothic chapel, with niches around, containing the figures of the apostles, which are admirably executed, and enclosing a chest in which are the relics of the saint. The artist, Vischer, has introduced among the figures, at the lower part, a representation of himself in his working costume.
This work, which occupied Vischer and his sons thirteen years, was finished in 1529.
Nuremberg contains at present about forty thousand inhabitants, all of whom, with the exception of about six thousand, are Protestants; whereas at Munich the bulk of the population are Catholics, who regard with some degree of jealousy their Protestant fellow-subjects of Nuremberg. The Frauenkirch, or Catholic Church, is a small though handsome edifice in the market-place, where also stands the Schönebrunnen, a fountain in the form of an obelisk, adorned with several figures on stone of some of the more prominent characters of antiquity.
There is a collection of pictures in the gothic edifice, formerly the chapel of St. Maurice, though but few are particularly worth remarking, except two or three of Albert Durer. The hospital, which likewise comprises a hospice for the reception of the aged and infirm, is a dilapidated low building on the river. The treatment of disease appeared to me to be much inferior to that of Munich. The costume of some of the inhabitants and
peasantry corresponds with the antique appearance of Nuremberg. The women generally wear a cloth dress reaching halfway down the leg, with a coloured kerchief (most frequently red) wrapped round the head, somewhat after the fashion of a turban. The men (as in other parts of Bavaria) wear three-cornered hats, long coats reaching nearly to the heels, and red or other coloured waistcoats, with large metal buttons overlapping each other.
The first railroad constructed in Germany was that between Nuremberg and Furth, a commercial town about six miles distant, and principally inhabited by Jews. A few miles in the opposite direction lies Erlangen, a neat town of ten thousand inhabitants, and the seat of a university, which, from the reputation of some of its professors, has latterly ranked high among the German universities. The number of students does not, however, much exceed three hundred, those in the theological faculty being the most numerous. They are not given to rioting and duelling, as at some other places. Behind the building of the University is a large garden, which contains a good anatomical and pathological museum. There is likewise a small clinical hospital, containing one hundred beds.
From Erlangen, the small and beautiful tract of country termed Franconian Switzerland may be conveniently visited in three days. It lies to the left of the high-road to Baireuth, and is interesting, not only on account of the picturesqueness of its scenery, but likewise from its magnificent caverns.
After a five hours' drive the visiter arrives at Streitberg (where stands the castle, now a ruin, but which formerly commanded the entrance of the valley), and shortly afterwards at Muggendorf, which is the chief place in the district, and the best point for making excursions. After ascending a steep hill, and an hour's good walking, the peculiar-shaped rock termed Adlerstein is attained, whence is displayed a beautiful and extensive panorama, a
Variegated maze of mount and glen;"
with here and there an old castle crowning an eminence. A little further on, the Riesenberg is seen; this is a
natural excavation between arched rocks, which, viewed from the valley below, presents the appearance of a gigantic castle—whence the name. Following the course of the Wiesent along the valley, you pass beneath Rabenek Castle, perched on the summit of a rock, the perpendicular sides of which might well bid defiance to hostile approaches, and, crossing the hill, arrive next at the Castle of Rabenstein, likewise standing on a projecting rock, and surrounded by immense masses of granite, which must have been at some period detached from the mountains by a terrestrial convulsion. From the castle a path, winding between these masses, leads to the chief wonder of the country—the Cave of Rabenstein. This cavern is divided into four compartments, the first being merely an extensive space on the same level as the ground at the entrance. The other divisions, in order to be seen to advantage, require to be lighted up with numerous candles, by which the whole extent can be perceived, and a singularly wild and unique scene is disclosed. Descending by a winding stair cut in the rock, you have an opportunity of admiring the immense and beautiful stalactites descending from the roof and rising from the floors. Several fossil remains were here discovered, most of which were taken away. Some still remain, such as a pair of enormous antlers, and part of the pelvis of the mammoth, which are so deeply imbedded in the incrustation that they could not well be removed, even if the proprietor were desirous that they should be. The third division, though less extensive than the others, contains more beautiful stalactites, which hang from the roof in the form of palm leaves. The fourth part is the largest,
and is mostly filled up
masses of rocks, which form a peculiarly striking and chaotic scene. Altogether, this cavern may be considered as one of the natural wonders of Europe, and a visit to it would well repay the traveller for making a detour of some miles. It is, however, not to be compared with Adelsberg. There is another of these caverns, termed the Forster's Höhle, near Waischenfeld, nearly two hours' walk from Rabenstein, but it is not so interesting.
Baireuth is a small town in an agreeable country, possessing nothing particularly worthy of remark. A pleasant walk leads to the Ermitage, two miles distant. From this, ten hours are required to reach Eger ; previous to entering there is an Austrian custom-house. Eger likewise presents no object of particular interest, except the old Castle of Wallenstein, in the interior of which are still preserved some relics of this hero.
Franzensbad is about half an hour's drive from Eger, and four from Marienbad and Carlsbad. Though the environs are not distinguished for scenic beauty, or objects of much interest, this bath has, during the season, an animated and cheerful aspect. On entering, the small temple, beneath which rises the chief spring, the Franzquelle, stands on the road-side. A promenade ground, with booths, colonnade, and the public saloon, lie on the left of the Kaiserstrasse—a range of handsome houses and hotels. There is a large bath-house, as also buildings for the administration of mud and gasbaths. Franzensbad possesses a variety of mineral springs, of whose properties I have elsewhere given a detailed account.
The position of Marienbad is highly picturesque. On