Another installment of my
mini series called “1 City 5 Ways,” showcasing the surprising number of ways
you can experience some of Historic Highlights of Germany’s magnificent cities.
Today's post focuses onAugsburg, Historic Highlights of Germany's Bavarian
city, located roughly 30 minutes from the more famous Munich (Munchen).
1) Beer Connoisseurs The opportunities to experience beer culture –
at restaurants and pubs– are virtually endless in Augsburg. Bavaria has
a long-standing beer tradition. This is a
fact many people already know. But it was Augsburg that effectively pioneered the
area’s tradition of producing top quality beer when in 1143, the city of Augsburg officially passedthe very first beer purity law. That was nearly 500
years before such laws were introduced in Munich or anywhere else in Germany. This tradition of fantastic beer remains very
much alive in Augsburg for those adventurous enough to experience the beer
world beyond Munich.
I recommend a visit to Riegele brewery, one of the world's
oldest breweries. It is currently a family-run business, and the 5th generationbeer brewer at the helm who recently
named the WORLD CHAMPION BEER SOMMELIER (2013). You’ll find plenty of English in this
establishment, the owner himself having been educated in the United States. Benjamin
Franklin is even quoted on the walls, stating"beer is living proof that
God loves us and wants us to be happy." The brewery itself
dates back to 1386.
2) Music Lovers
Anyone with an appreciation for classical music will love Augsburg, as it is on
this rich soil that the Mozart legacy was founded. The name Mozart actually means
"of the earth," and centuries of Mozarts lived in Augsburg, making
their living as craftsmen, predominantly brickmakers. However, Wolfgang Amadeus
Mozart’s father was actually the first Mozart to break away from the family’s traditional
trade to explore music. Leopold became a bookbinder when always had a musical inclinations.
His thriving bookmaking business also afforded him the opportunity and freedom
to introduce his son to music. In his spare time, Leopold became Wolfgang's
music teacher, actively encouraging
him from a young age, and well…the rest, you know, is history.
Visitors to Augsburg can stop at Mozarthaus, a small museum located in
the actual house where Leopold lived and raised Wolfgang. 3) Architecture Enthusiasts Augsburg has style. So much so that it was once famous across Europe and "Augsburg style” became an actual term. This style, defined by its abundance of ornate
silver and gold, was a result of the overwhelming number of gold and
silversmiths living in Augsburg. The Augsburg Rathaus (City Hall), has
been described as "the most significant Renaissance secular building north
of the Alps.” It overlooks the town square. Inside, the building’s "Golden Hall” is
literally a room decorated in REAL gold. The City Hall was nearly entirely
razed during World War II bombings but the city dedicated more than four
decades to painstakingly restoring it to its former glory, piece by piece.
TheSchaezler Palace, also in the town center,is also a great sight to
behold, a perfect example ofGerman Rococco style. In
fact, the palace’s rococo ball room, the walls and ceilings of which were
decorated by artist Gregorio Gugielmi (1714-1773), was once admired by Marie Antoinette herself, when
she stopped in Augsburg on her way to be married in France... 4) Economics Buffs Augsburg was once the Wall Street of Euroe, the economic center of Europe. A large number of Europe’s top banking
entrepreneurs resided here. Of those bankers, Jacob Fugger was the most
accomplished, having been a key financier behind the Roman Empire’s expansion.
In fact, by many accounts, he was the
world's first international banker. “Jakob Fugger the Rich," as
his contemporaries called him, had a scale of wealth greater than is even
imaginable in modern times, his relative wealth far exceeding that of any
modern-day mogul. And before it became trendy to do so, Fugger had an interest
in giving back to his community. He was also highly religious and his massive
wealth made him feel waves of guilt. So, as a balance to his grandiose wealth
and luxurious life, he created the world’s first social housing project. This
project consisted of150 apartmentsfor the city’s hardest working folk.
Jakob Fugger charged residents the equivalent of only 1 dollar per year to live there (in modern day
currency equivalent). He also stipulated that the rent never increase so that
families could continue to live there virtually rent free for as long as they
Families continue to live in this beautifully maintained social housing project
to this very day. This social housing project housed many of Augsburg's
craft families, giving them an opportunity to overcome poverty, and make get
ahead in their lives. In fact, Wolgang Amadeus Mozart’s grandfather lived in
the Fuggerei. Visitors can stroll through the community with a small entrance
donation at the gate.
5) Religious History Enthusiasts In 1518,Martin Lutherstayed
in Augsburg, at St. Anna's church, formerly named the Carmelite Monastery. Some
time later, Luther's colleague published the "Augsburg Confessions" based on their discussion
and concerns. These documents detailed their concerns with the way the church
operates and its concentration of powers. Many historians suggest that the
movement we have now named the Reformation was largely a result of these papers
and thus had its roots in Augsburg.