• Vinícius Mendes

In the 1960s, German translator and interpreter Margarethe Hamich moved with her husband to tiny Bietigheim, in southwestern Germany, more than a decade before joining neighboring Bissingen. “The city was very ugly. I said I would stay for a maximum of three years, but here I am”, says the octogenarian Margarethe, today also a guide specializing in the crown jewel of the place, the medieval buildings made with half-timbered structures, wooden rods, fitted in horizontal, vertical positions. or sloping, with mud or brick walls. With around 42 residents, Bietigheim-Bissingen is part of a route created by Germany's official tourism agency (DZT) in the 1990s, which runs through around XNUMX cities over XNUMX kilometers from Stade , on the banks of the River Elbe in the north of the country, to Meersburg on Lake Constance in the southwest.

Altogether there are more than 2,5 million such constructions in Germany. THE Brazilian visited some of them, not only in Bietigheim-Bissingen, but also in Besigheim, Schorndorf, Blaubeuren, Pfullendorf, Esslingen, Biberach and Meersburg, on one of the six segments of the Fachwerkstrasse (the name of the route in German), which houses 26 half-timbered towns, in buildings dating from the 13th to the 19th century. In all of them, the construction techniques and architectural details serve as a frame for the interesting historical portrait offered by the route.

The oldest houses on the stretch are in Biberach and Esslingen. In the first one, some of the half-timbered houses reveal, through the division of their rooms, what domestic and city life was like in these small German villages in the 14th and 15th centuries. animals, the storage of food and the economic activity of its owner, such as baking or tanning, in which the entire family participated. The bedrooms were on the upper floors and the bathroom was still an element practically absent from the architectural vocabulary. A small appendage served as a WC, with drainage for the gap between the houses. Unhealthy times.

Another highlight of Biberach is the Weberberg, an area of ​​the city that in the 16th century had around 400 looms, occupying 1/4 of the population. One of the highlights of the half-timbered script, the place has become a magnet for professionals such as potters, writers, designers and architects.

In Esslingen, on the other hand, the city's old market square is home to a grandiose half-timbered example, where Kessler-Haus, the oldest sparkling wine manufacturer (Sekt, in German) in the country, and the first of its kind outside from France. Opened in 1826, Kessler occupies a complex with cellars and buildings dating back to the early 13th century, which had previously belonged to the Church. The ideal place for Georg Christian Kessler to apply the champagne production knowledge learned directly from Barbe-Nicole Clicquot, the famous widow.

In Bietigheim-Bissingen, the Hornmoldhaus house-museum, former residence of the clerk and bailiff Sebastian Hornmold (1500-1581), reveals the transition between two half-timbered styles, from Alemannic (late Middle Ages) to Franconian (early from the Modern Age), with constructive elements starting to have a merely ornamental function, such as the Saint Andrew's cross, a wooden "X" often apparent in the structure.

But not only that. Inside, a model reveals what the skeleton of the construction's rods looks like, still without the walls being filled with clay or stone. The paintings on the walls and ceiling of the Hornmoldhaus speak to the way of life in Germany during the Renaissance. In addition to floral ornaments, the coats of arms of the Hornmold family and the House of Wurtemberg, there are designs that criticized the Catholic Church and the clergy. Created in the 1980s, the house-museum tries to tell a little about the 1.200 years of the city's history.

In little Blaubeuren, more history. The waters of Lake Blautopf (blue pot, in German) serve as a backdrop for 15th-century half-timbered buildings, many of them on the banks of the canals that cut through the city. There is also prehistory: Blaubeuren houses in its main museum the Venus of Hohle Fels, the oldest female figure made by man, from mammoth ivory. Discovered in 2008, Venus is between 35 and 40 years old. And it makes the half-timbered look even recent.

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