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Geoff and Suzanne Visit Our Castles

Heilbronn and Schwabisch Hall

April 13 and 14, 2005

(finished May 26)


Dear Families and Friends,


This is the third of our four Castle Route diaries.


John and Marianne


We selected Heilbronn for no more exotic a reason than it seemed to be the right distance between our castle stops and we wanted to expose our guests to a "normal" German, small, family hotel. When we pulled up in front of the Hotel Park Villa in a downtown neighborhood of Heilbronn, we thought we'd hit the mark - not too big, family-owned and operated, and just a little more deluxe than our normal stays. (It's a holiday after all.)

Hotel: http://www.hotel-parkvilla.de/
Heilbronn PR: http://www.heilbronn-marketing.de/start_e.html

However, we could never have expected that the family of this gasthaus included a cheetah! Marianne first spotted the big cat from our room window, thinking it was a very life-like garden statue. Then it turned to check out the new guests.

We did not discover exactly why the family had a cheetah in the back yard, only that they used to have seven or eight out there. I suppose it does cut down on any minor theft of garden equipment.

As for Heilbronn itself: pretty dull. It had the look of a pleasant enough place to live and work, but not much in the way of tourist ambience.

The next day, we started our touring with Swabish Hall (or Swaebisch, if one tries to put the umlauted-a in normal internet text.) Here was a place that seemed to be ALL tourism. Geoff and Suzanne checked out the town map and then we made our first stop, at the ornate Rathaus (City Hall). I suppose Marianne was getting decorating tips.

Background: http://www.remmick.org/Remmick.German.Facts/PageSchwabish.html
and http://www.answers.com/topic/schw-bisch-hall

The Rathaus sits on the main square, with typically Schwabish buildings lining the sides of the square and a huge sets of stone steps opposite the Rathaus, which led to St. Michael's cathedral.
Inside, the cathedral was both massive and, in my view, light. Even the altar avoided the imposing and intimidating style often found here in Europe.
Behind the altar were a series of altar-monuments. Most seemed dedicated to church benefactors from several hundred years ago. Also prominently displayed, was this ossuary, perhaps a reminder of one's fate if donations are not big enough to warrant an altar-monument.

Back on the quaint and tourist-friendly streets, we made our way to the Hallisch-Frankisch museum. The first display showed the growth and collapse phases of Schwabisch Hall for the last five-hundred years or so. From our earlier walks, it was possible to recognize the buildings we had seen.

German site: http://www.kvsha.de/

The displays from the early Middle Ages showed relics of both religious devotion and juridical severity. I can't imagine the crime that warranted this chair, but I'm glad the EU no longer allows such local practices.
One advantage to having a whole museum to ourselves is that we can play with the exhibits. Here we enjoy old-time fashions, particularly good for those of us who need all the hair-help we can get.
I'm sure this is the desk we need in our new house. I wonder if they'd choose to part with it?

The Hallish-Frankish Museum had the finest collection of shooting targets we'd ever seen. Come to think of it, it had the ONLY shooting targets we'd ever seen, and it had hundreds.

Some of the themes were understandable: animals, soldiers, and castles. However, the locals apparently also liked targets of religious figures, neighbors, and even children. Do you suppose the analysts of the time worried about pictures inspiring real-world action? Or was it visa-versa?

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