Nov. 23, 2018: Minstrels of Waltherplatz, Bolzano

 

Waltherplatz, the popular center square in Bolzano,has two famous Walters, and the place would not be complete without both of them. One is the medieval bard and poet, Walther von der Vogelweide, and the other is Klaus Walter, a fixture in the square with his zither, bells and other traditional and improvised instruments.

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A classically-trained musician and former concert performer, he has said that his real ambition was to return to Bolzano and play in the square. Here's a video sample, from YouTube:

The square is popular with visitors to Bolzano, but few would guess that it was, in fact, built for them! In 1808, the Bavarian King Maximillian, who controlled the area at the time, ordered the square built to relieve congestion in the oldest heart of the city and to allow new inns to be built for the growing number of Alpine visitors. The statue was added in 1889, during Austrian rule.

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The square has been renamed repeatedly, including for Maximillian, for the Madonna, for King Vittorio Emmanuele, and even a turn as Johannsplatz, before getting back to Walther after World War II. From 1935 until after the war, the statue was removed as a reflection of Mussolini's pique that even under Italian rule, the local population held onto German cultural heroes.

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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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