Wednesday, July 1, 2015


The weekend before Red Baron started on his trip to Halberstadt, Quedlinburg, and Goslar in the Harz region an event took place in the framework of the 125th anniversary of Freiburg's Münsterbauverein (MBV): Der Tag der offenen Baustelle (Day of the open building site).

A couple of members and active supporters of the Society for the Preservation of the Minster not only contribute their yearly membership fee but offer their time, becoming Zeitspender, supporting MBV's scheduled events in 2015.

Corporate design: Red Baron's Zeitspender polo shirt
It was during Freiburg's Minster market crowded on a Saturday as usual where the organizers offered a lift with a construction elevator to a platform running around the Minster's high choir at a height of 50 meters. The choir needs urgent repairs but experts estimate that the scaffolding will remain in place for the next 30 (!) years.

Scaffolded high choir
The fare for going up to the platform was 8 euros and for members of the MBV reduced to 5 euros. Most people standing in line for a ride were already members, others were tourists from France, Switzerland, and from all over Germany. They were not the Freiburgers Red Baron was looking for. Anyway, I was busy talking to all those fascinating people trying to convince them to become members of the MBV. We need to push the number of active supporters for the preservation of the building, now numbering 5114, beyond the 6000 mark. Many visitors I talked to just took the flyer that informs them about membership but at least three people signed the form in my presence. As new members of the MBV they were offered a free ticket to an upcoming Minster concert.

Romantic view of the high choir in the 19th century.
Note, not all of the buttresses carry pinnacles.
The sacristan building on the right was destroyed during the war.
At the end of my duty I took the lift up myself and was rewarded with some fantastic views onto the Minster and its surroundings that a normal visitor will not experience. In an old engraving of the church you may notice that some of the buttresses (Strebepfeiler) of the high choir are not crowned with pinnacles (Fialen). In fact, the builders of Gothic cathedrals had to compensate for the lateral forces of the vaults and roof in placing flying buttresses (Strebebögen) to support of the side walls. The external supporting buttresses were usually ballasted with an additional weight of structural pinnacles. However, in the high Gothic era these additional weights were no longer necessary, so the Minster's high choir initially had no pinnacles. Nevertheless, to embellish the church ornamental pinnacles were added to most of the pillars in neo-Gothic style at the end of the 18th and in particular during the 19th century when Freiburg had become an archiepiscopal see.

Buttresses, their supports, and damaged pinnacles. The Schlossberg is visible in the back.

One of the Hahnentürme (cock towers) seen through a buttress.
These towers were started in Romanesque style and later heightened in Gothic style

A graffiti of a tambour Hagenbuch, one of  Napoleon's German-speaking Alsatian soldiers
(-bur instead of -bour), on the outer wall of the high choir at the level of the ground floor.
I had photographed this graffito earlier that apparently will no longer be accessible
for the coming 30 years.

Now I discovered the graffiti of Dominic Kaltenbach
and Xaver Disch at the height of the platform dated 1809.

View of the north side of the Minster market with Altes Kaufhaus
and the spire of  Saint Martin's Gate in the back

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