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Bayreuth, Germany


Where Gumbo Was #382

This week Gumbo spent some time in the town of Bayreuth in the North-East of Bavaria, more specifically in Upper Franconia. Congratulations to PortMoresby, George G and GarryRF, who guessed this week's destination correctly.

There is plenty to see here. The photo at the top shows Bayreuth's 'New Palace'. As is often the case with such labels, it's not so new, actually, having been constructed in the 1750s - after a fire badly damaged the old palace. (The old one has been rebuilt and we will come across it later). 

The palace was the residence of the margrave of the region. Behind the buildings there is an extensive and very peaceful park area, which is open to the public.


A view similar to the one below, of the fountain in front of the palace, has already featured in the clues.


The building on the other side of the fountain is the seat of Upper Franconia's administration.


On the edge of the palace gardens you come across this building:


You might just be able to read its name above the door. It is 'Villa Wahnfried', which might ring bells. The composer Richard Wagner had it built in the 1870s and he and his family lived there for several years until shortly before his death. He and his second wife Cosima are buried at the back of the building. 


Statues of what is probably Bayreuth's most famous resident can be found in a number of places around town.


There are many attractive buildings in the town centre and, since the central parts are pedestrianised zones, it is a pleasant place to walk around.


The two photos below show the 'Old Palace'. It dates back to the late 15th century, but, as has already been pointed out, it burned down in the middle of the 18th. Rebuilding it took over a hundred years and the new building suffered considerable damage in the final stages of the second world war. What there is today, therefore, is the result of several reconstructions. The palace currently houses offices of the inland revenue.


Below is a shot of a maypole in the middle of the main shopping area. They are traditionally erected to celebrate the arrival of spring. We were there in August, but I suppose it serves as a landmark and focal point, so there is little reason to take it down as soon as June arrives.


I will leave the photo below (of a sausage stand) without further comment - as another little puzzle! There was quite a queue for these sausages, but as we had just enjoyed coffee and cake in one of the town's cafes, we did not sample them.


The next shot, taken in one of the side streets, was also used as a clue. There are several similarly attractive locations with outdoor seating (in summer) dotted around the town.


This is Bavaria - so, of course, there are quite a few churches. The next two photos show the exterior and interior, respectively, of the 'Spitalkirche'.


The octagonal tower of the 'Schlosskirche' is both attractive and distinctive.


The 'Stadtkirche', pictured below, dates back to the 15th century, but (like the old palace) it was badly damaged repeatedly by fires and underwent a complete renovation in the 1960/70s.


Bayreuth also has a fabulous building that features on UNESCO's World Heritage list - the Margravial Opera House, shown in the next two shots.


This opera house was built to celebrate the wedding of the margrave's daughter, which took place in September 1748. (I suppose they didn't like any of the other potential venues available - and building your own, of course, is always a possibility!) 

You need to see the interior to fully appreciate why the building is on the UNESCO list.


The decor is breathtakingly over the top, even by baroque standards.


The building was completely renovated recently, at a cost of some € 30 million, which is why everything looks in such splendid condition.


The fountain opposite the opera house has already featured (from a different perspective) in the clues. It dates from 1914 and was commissioned by the town council to honor the Wittelsbach dynasty of Bavarian kings.


Richard Wagner apparently regarded the opera house as completely unsuitable for the performance of his works—it is alleged that he hated the opulent decor—and managed to persuade the town to provide him with a building plot for a special venue. This was completed in 1876 and, to distinguish it from the margravial one, is generally referred to as the Bayreuth Festival Opera House. We had planned to have a look at it, but, since the annual opera festival was in full swing at the time, we could not find a parking space anywhere near it. So we went for Plan B, which was a visit to the 'Hermitage' - a large park area just outside the town itself. It was probably the better plan, anyway.

We had not done much research on the Hermitage beforehand, so we were surprised to find a palace here. Actually, there are two: yes, you guessed it, an old one and a new one. The old palace, shown in the two photos below, was built in 1715 by the then margrave.


His successor, or rather his successor's wife - we are now talking about the family that built the original opera house - did not regard that as palatial enough and consequently a grander palace was constructed nearby.


I must say that I do find this one quite attractive. Again, it is over the top - but in a likeable way. Below is a close-up shot of some of the pillars.


The grounds are extensive and we spent a pleasant couple of hours wandering around.



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