History Timeline Part I
Sturmius, a follower of Boniface (Wynfreth), founded a Benedictine Monastery on March 12th, and became the first Abbot. It was built on the site where the Fulda Cathedral stands today.
The Fulda Monastery School was recorded in history for the first time.
The first monastery church was built, and the alter was dedicatd to St. Boniface In the same year, Boniface was able to get the monastery exempt from the Bishop’s authority, and be only directly responsible to the Pope in Rome.
Boniface was murdered on June 6th near Dokkum in Friesia (the Netherlands) and was buried in his favorite monastery in Fulda on July 9th, which was visited by many pilgrims. Thanks to the many donations, this monastery was destined to become one of the most powerful in the German-speaking countries.
The Fulda Monastery was put under the worldly authority of Charlemange, and only responsible to the Holy Roman Emperor.
Charlemagne donated the City of Hammelburg to the Fulda Monastery. The donation certificate is the oldest royal edict in Germany today, and very famous.
The first Fulda Abbot, Sturmius, died on December 17th. At this time 336 monks were living in the monastery, which wasn’t only growing itself – new satellite monasteries were springing up all over the countryside.
Charlemagne visited the Fulda Monastery.
The Abbot Ratgar began to build a Basilica for the monastery.
The Basilica was completed and consecrated by the Arch Bishop Haistulf of Mainz. It was the largest church north of the Alps.
819 - 822
A small church was built in the monastery cemetery, which became famous later – St. Michael’s. The crypt is one of the oldest church buildings in Germany today.
Milseberg is a popular place for locals to go hiking, spend Sunday afternoon, and talk to the cows they meet along the way. (Well, at least I did!) There are several hiking trails on Milseberg, mostly kept up by the Rhoenklub, a nature, culture and ecology group from Huenfeld/Fulda, where one of my cousins is a member and past officer of the club. (Have to put those plugs in for the family!) Milseberg is also the highest point in Hesse, about 300 meters or 1000 feet above sea level. On top, is a crucifixion scene. At Easter time, there are services here on Good Friday (Karfreitag). There are beautiful vistas here as well, and one can see Wasserkuppe, to the north, from here.
I don't know the exact directions here, I know it is not far from Wasserkuppe, after I contact my cousin, I will add that information. It is a great place to picnic and relax in nature! There is also a restaurant near the top that has food and beverages (beer, too, of course!). Nothing fancy, but one can get cake, ice cream, or pretzels, or Schnitte, or Wurstteller mit Kraut here.
Fulda-Home of My Ancestors
"Around My Second Hometown"
Fulda is the city my mother's parents are from. I have dozens of cousins that still live there. Both my grandparents were from big families. I still haven't met them all, even after at least a half-dozen trips there.
Fulda is the place where Christianity was brought to the Teutonic tribes. St. Boniface came there in 744 and supposedly chopped down a sacred oak tree. When he wasn't struck down by the gods, they fell down and accepted Catholicism.
Fulda was and is a cross-roads of commerce. That is why St. Boniface came there, it was a meeting place for the Teutonic tribes to trade and he figured he could spred the Gospel faster if he hit a large cross-section of the local tribes. During WWII the allies bombed the heck out of Fulda because it was, and is, the main rail centre of Germany. Fulda is almost in the geographic centre of Germany. If one takes Deutsche Bahn and needs to change trains from north-south to east-west or vice-versa, one will almost invariably go through Fulda. Figure, the town only has about 65K inhabitants and has 18 rail lines running through it. Nuernberg (Nuremberg) has about 10 times the poplulation and only has about 9 lines at the main train station (Hauptbahnhof).
Because it was the center of commerce, Fulda was a very wealthy city for it's size. Probably it's zenith was at the end of the 17th, beginning of the 18th centuries when the city saw a baroque building frenzy to demonstrate its wealth. Fulda is home of one of the most ornate Baroque Cathedrals in the world. It has a very elaborate and ornate City Palace (Orangerie) and a very large and decorous City Hall (Stadtschloss).
It has very ornate and old city gates, the Paulus Tor and another near the main bus terminal, the Heertor.
(The latter was found incorporated in the wall of my grandfather's boyhood home and is prominently displayed today! It is about 1000 years old!)
Today Fulda is known for candles, tires and noodles. (And Schwartzer Hahn beer isn't bad, either!) It still is a cozy city and because it is nesteled in the Rhoen valley, it has some vistas one does not encounter in the mostly flat central German plains. Near Fulda are many interesting sites. The Wasserkuppe has skiing and gliders and an old cold war spy station NATO used to keep an eye on the Warsaw pact, literally down at the bottom of the hill. Nearby is a museum and park dedicated to the old east-west border, complete with guard towers and the old fences that both sides put up to keep comrades in or slow down invading armies.
Milseberg has a huge crucifixion scene and breathtaking views of the Rhoenland.
See my things to do tips for more on these locations.
Fulda has many things to offer in a compact location. If one is to see a German city that, although restored, is still very authentic and not overly commercialized (read: tourist trap)
One might consider Fulda. It is only about one hour by autobahn north-east of Frankfurt. If one takes Deutsche Bahn north, from Frankfurt, one will probably pass through Fulda, so if you have a Eurail or Deutsche Bahn Pass, why not stop for a day or two and explore?
"Der Dom-The Cathedral"
The Dom, in Fulda is one of the most ornate baroque cathedrals in Europe. It was built between 1704 and 1712. I don't have enough space here to describe it. I have taken at least 100 photos and have about 3 hours of video of the cathedral, inside and out, to try to capture all the ornate beauty of this edifice. It is a very "busy" place, architecturally speaking! From the sundial on the left front belltower to the grave of St. Boniface in the basement, this building is top-to-bottom one artistic treat after another, it is a museum unto itself, and it is still an active place of worship! The seat of the Archbishop of Fulda is there. If you want to explore this I would leave a few hours to take it all in. It is indeed overwhelming.
"Stadtschloss-City Hall (Castle)"
The Stadtschloss of Fulda was built, I believe about 1731. It is late baroque. If one takes the time, the Stadtschloss has an interesting museum in it with many objects d'art. It is not expensive, I believe today the admission would be about 3 euro for adults, a bit less for seniors, children and students. The Stadtschloss is almost directly across from the Dom.
The Orangerie in Fulda was built about 1728. Today there is a cafe and a museum in it. It is directly behind the Stadtschloss and across the street from the Dom.
Behind the Stadtschloss is a park that has some interesting fountains in a pond, they put on a water show in the summer. It is a very restive place where many locals hang out to relax and enjoy days with nice weather.
"St Michael's Church - Kirche St Michael"
St. Michael's church is the oldest existing church in Germany. It was built in 822. In contrast to the Dom next door, it is very plain and simple. It has a round nave, no pews and catacombs below where the early bishops and abbots of the area are buried. It is ironic that one of the most ornate and one of the plainest churches in existence are situated next to each other. One can view the inside of the church, but no photography is allowed. There are books and post cards for sale there and in other locations in Fulda on St. Michael's that have photos of the interior. It is nothing very exciting save that it is interesting to see architecture over a millenium in age.
"St. Boniface Statue"
The statue of St. Boniface is across the street from the Stadtschloss and down from the Dom. St. Boniface is one of the patrons of Fulda. (I think St. Lawrence and The Blessed Virgin are the others).
Since he brought Christianity to the Teutonic peoples, he is very famous here.
"Old City Gate- Alte Stadttor-Heertor"
This Gate was actually incorporated into one of the walls of my grandfather's boyhood home. His brother owned the property until he died in the early 70's and then the city condemned it for a new central bus station. When the home was being razed, this wall was found inside an exterior wall of part of the home. The wall is around the corner from the Stadtschloss in the central bus station plaza.
The Paulus Tor is the gateway to the Baroque section of Fulda, it was built in the mid-18th Century. It is just east of the Dom-Stadtschloss-Orangerie triangle.