Sunday, July 5, 2015


Red Baron had been to Goslar on several occasions but during the Museumsreise 2015 we visited two sites I had not seen before. One was the Rammelsberg or rather the mining activity in- and outside, the other the Kaiserpfalz (Imperial Palace).

The Rammelsberg houses an ore mine that had been operational for more than 1,000 years. Tracer analysis of archeological samples unearthed as far away as England show that copper from the Rammelsberg mine even dates back to the 3rd century AD. The mine eventually closed in 1988.

We continue to read in Wikipedia: The ore deposits at the Rammelsberg were caused by the escape of hot, metal-bearing, thermal springs on the sea floor in the Devonian period. This formation is referred to as a sedimentary exhaustive deposit. At the bottom of the Devonian sea, two large lenses of ore were formed that were later caught up in the folding of rocks during the Carboniferous period and so lie overturned at an angle in the mountain where they reach the surface.

One of the main problems of mining and particularly in the Harz mountains is ground water entering the galleries. When the floor of the mining galleries reaches levels well below the earth's surface it becomes necessary to pump out the infiltrating water. In the absence of electricity the miners installed giant overshot waterwheels underground to operate the necessary water pumps.

Giant underground waterwheel (©Wikipedia/pipmaru)
The wheels were driven by water collected in special higher-up ponds. The water was guided in dedicated water galleries to and from the site of the waterwheels and finally released into the valley.

The old water galleries of the Röder mine our group walked through
were rather narrow and sometimes somewhat low

Red Baron's safety helmet clearly shows the traces where his head had hit the ceiling
In the meantime the Rammelsberg mine has become an archeological site. It started in 1999 when a shoe was found on site that was dated 1024. In 2011 archeologists dug out a wooden construction that was identified as Europe's earliest mining gallery supported by wooden pillars and beams.

Archeologist Dr. Klappauf standing in front of his excavation

Painting in Goslar's Municipal Museum: Dr. Klappauf treading the bellows 
of an artisanal smelting furnace. In recent years the archeologist has dug out
a few thousand smelting sites in the Harz region dating as far back as the Middle Ages.

Goslar's other highlight, the Imperial Palace, is strongly connected with the mining activity at the Rammelsberg. In 1005, attracted by the presence of silver, King Henry II had his Kaiserpfalz built at the foot of the mountain. It comprised a wide complex of buildings including a large abbey church containing an Imperial Throne and the so-called Krodo Altar both made from bronze in the second half of the 11th century.

The renovated Kaiserpfalz in the 19th century
Already in the middle of the 13th century the buildings of the Imperial Residence started to fall into ruins. Eventually the church was reduced to just one entrance hall. However, the ill-fated alliance of throne and altar in German history came to an end neither then nor with the Reformation. On the contrary, Luther's Church needed and sought the support of the territorial princes not only against the Catholic Counter-Reformation but against Protestant heretics too.

In the second half of the 19th century Goslar's Prussian rulers had the Imperial Palace reconstructed as a national shrine and accelerated the building activity following the foundation of the 2nd Reich in 1871. Hence the former Kaisersaal is decorated with wall paintings commemorating events in German history. Again, Luther's Reformation is one of the key events for Germany's "Prussian" north.

Luther in Worms: God help me, Amen
The centerpiece of all the paintings however is the apotheosis of the Kaiserreich (Empire) dated 1875.
Apotheosis of the 2nd Reich (©Wikipedia/Jim Steakley)
It shows the "new" Kaiser Wilhelm on horseback followed by his son Friedrich, who in 1888 was emperor for only 99 days. Friedrich's son the later Wilhelm II is depicted as a boy on the right-hand side in a blue uniform in an awkward pose partly covered by the pillar, perhaps to hide his crippled left arm? In such a allegoric painting you will expect to find Bismarck who is standing together with General Moltke, the former hammering on the new Reich's cornerstone. The presentation is crowned by, among others, Emperor Barbarossa and Prussia's Joan of Arc Queen Louise pointing to her son Wilhelm, the new emperor. In front of the painting you will recognize Dame Germania and Father Rhine with the annexation of the Alsace now Germany's river and no longer Germany's border.

Wilhelm's equestrian statue in front of Goslar's Kaiserpfalz
In vain in the late 19th century German nationalists tried to elevate the first emperor of the 2nd Reich surnaming him the Great.

To have a look at the Imperial Throne you must visit the Kaiserpfalz ...

 ... the Krodo-Altar nowadays is on display in Goslar's Municipal Museum ...  

so eventually throne and altar became separated.

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