This is a small but cute detail on a half-timbered house: a pair of fish-shaped creatures - it takes *some* imagination to identify them as dolphins. Their open mouths meet (are they kissing?) and form a heart which is painted in red.
We can now start inventing some fantasy stories about dolphin love and how come anyone chose this ornament on their house... I'm leaving that to your imagination.
The house with the dolphins is located in the middle of Altstadtstraße close to the curve, on the corner of Steingasse and the path to the S-Bahn station. The dolphins are carved into a beam on the corner of the top storey.
The plateau behind the church and the chapel of St Catherine served as cemetery for centuries. The current cemetery has long been transferred to a place outside the village chentre but the churchyard still has grave monuments. Most of these are metal crosses in beautiful and elaborate blacksmith's work. In the back there is a steep descent to Kirchgasse, supported by walls.
Access to the cemetery is either from the courtyard between the church and the chapel of St Catherine or up a steep stairway from Kirchgasse.
A funny detail is the (modern) iron dragon, chained to the wall of St Catherine's chapel.
This extraordinary medieval fresco inside the church is a bit hidden and easily overlooked. Seeing such 'creatures from the dark side' within a church is at least remarkable. It shows a milk witch and the devil. The witch is milking a fountain (which is supposed to give water, not milk, and collecting the milk in a bucket. The devil brings a pot, waiting to get some of the milk. The inscription is unfortunately destroyed.
Witch and devil are depicted above the northern side door, the door to the cemetery. North is the dark, the night side, and this door leads to the graveyard. The picture is probably meant as a warning to beware of the dark powers.
The "old" town hall of Eppingen looks notably younger than all those amazing half-timbered houses, and it is. Those who know the typical neoclassical architecture of Karlsruhe and the Grandduchy of Baden will immediately think of Friedrich Weinbrenner, the state architect in the easly 19th century. It wasn't himself who designed Eppingen's town hall, though, but one of his students who designed it in 1823.
The town hall is located in the wide new market square that substituted the much smaller former market square next to the Old University. Beware of the fountains in the pavement...
Another remarkable building in this sqaure is Alte Post, a half-timbered house with two gables, in restauro right now and invisible behind scaffolding, even partly taken down to repair the timberframe construction and insert new beams where needed.
Update: A couple of weeks later (photo 4) the nets and parts of the scaffolding were taken down so it was possible to get an idea of the building.
The Old Synagogue in Küfergasse was built in 1731 and was in use until the 1870s when the Jewish community built a new synagogue. The old one was sold and became a private residential house.
The ground floor is built from stone, the upper storeys are timberframe. The ground floor still contains the 18th century mikwe, the ritual bath. The wooden door to the mikwe seems to be open in the daytime (it was both times I I visited) so you can look inside through the iron gate.
The facade still bears the chuppa or wedding stone (where the bridegroom smashes a glass during the wedding ceremony as reminiscence to the destruction of the Jerusalem temple), a relief with inscriptions in Hebrew and an 8-pointed star. On the doorframe of the main entrance, the slot is still visible where the mesusah used to be.
The building survived the Nazi era unharmed thanks to the courage of the then owner. He had covered the wedding stone with a wooden shutter and pretended there was just a cellar window behind. The Nazis showed up again and again and ordered him to open the shutter, but he refused - saying, in summer, thatthe hot air would enter and ruin his must, and in winter, that the cold air would enter and freeze his potatoes and ruin his must... He succeeded in saving his house, and this monument of Jewish religion.
Baumann'sches Haus is probably the moast beautiful among the many beautiful half-timbered houses in Eppingen's old town. For sure it is the one with the most elaborate details in construction and ornamentation. The house dates from 1582, the date can be found above one of the side doors. Its picture even made it onto a German postage stamp.
Look for the three Neidköpfe (envy heads) on the southern side (photo 3).
In case you plan to stay overnight in style... The house hosts a hotel and restaurant: Altstadthotel Wilde Rose
The colourful crucifix on the southern wall of the nave is an eyecatcher, and will be even more when the scaffolding has been taken down (at the moment taking aphoto in total was impossible because of that). It is named the "Longinus" Cross because the only person depicted under the cross is Longinus, the Roman officer who after Christ's death said, "He was truly the son of the Lord."
Around the cross the Arma Christi are assembled: a collection of all the arms and other requisites that appear in the Passion of Christ. Test your knowledge of the Bible...
The catholic parish church of Our Lady is located on the highest point of the hill in the middle of the old town. The church is of medieval origins but has been extended and partly rebuilt in the 1960s or 70s.
Right now (May 2011) the outside is being renovated, but they were already painting so these works should be finished soon. There are no works inside, though. The back entrance on the right side of the church is open in the daytime.
The interior is not much to write about, apart from some medieval frescoes that have recently been rediscovered in the gothic choir and on the northern wall of the nave. The pulpit is also an old piece, the rest of the interior is 20th century.
Don't miss the little cemetery behind the church. It forms a terrace high above the road below, supported by stone walls. The grave monuments are not stones as usual but metal crosses in elaborate blacksmith's work.
The Old University hosts the Stadt- und Fachwerkmuseum (town and timberframe museum). It shows the history of the town and its surroundings and the way people lived in former centuries on all five floors of the building. This includes interiors of housing, workshops and shops. There is an exhibition on timberframe architecture on the first floor. Some command of German is helpful to understand the explanations.
However, the museum is worth a look inside anyway. The exhibits and ensembles give an idea even if you don't read the explanations. In addition to what's on display, this is a chance to see the interior of the timberframe construction - even more so as it is free.
Museum website (in German)
Virtual tour of the musem - click the red arrows or the plan on the left to move within the building
Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday and on public holidays 14.00 - 16.00. Free entry.
Believe it or not - little Eppingen has a history as seat of a university.
The glory of "Alma Mater Eppingensis" lasted only for one semester, though. In 1564/65 a plague epidemy haunted Heidelberg and the university of Heidelberg left the town. The faculty of liberal arts sought refuge in Eppingen. They used this building for their lessons. Seems the citizens of the town got along well with the students.
The building itself is older, it was built in the 1490s. Its actual purpose was being a market hall where merchants deposited and sold their products. The ground floor was used by the butchers as meat hall. Its short academic career left its marks, though. The house ist still called "Old University". It is the largest and most impressive half-timbered building in town.
Nowadays it hosts the historical musem (see separate tip).
The tower in the corner of the new market square and Altstadtstraße is Eppingen's oldest building. In the middle ages the town ended here. The tower was part of the town wall and served as watchtower for the guard, the "piper", who had to blow his horn in case of danger, fire, approaching enemies. Later on the tower was used as prison.
The tower can be visited once per month from May to October: on the first Sunday of the month it is open from 14.00 - 16.00.
The oldest house of Eppingen is the so-called Bäckerhaus ("baker's house") with its impressive high roof and gable. It is dated 1412.
Walk round the corner and enjoy the crooked beams on the sides.
It is a residential house; the ground floor hosts a shop with clothing and toys for children.
This crossing of two narrow streets is the perfect spot to continue your tutorial on timberframe architecture. It assembles three remarkable half-timbered houses that represent the three main styles.
The one with the yellow beams (photo 3) shows the Alemannic timberframe construction.
On the opposite corner you can compare it to the Franconian style (photo 2).
On its left we have the much younger baroque house (photo 4) with the 'broken' Mansart roof and flat gable.
The facade of the chapel of St Catherine is painted with a mural which is a bizarre surprise. This art work adopts the medieval traditions of the danse macabre. However, it has only been painted in 2002, as the signature on the left proves (Roman numbers MMII = 2002).
The skeletons are out to get their victims: people of all ages from child to old age from the left, and all clerics from the Pope to priest and nun on the right. Just like in the medieval danses macabres the stages of life and the clerical ranks are shown in a row, each of them picked up by a skeleton and lead to the grave. Some follow readily, others are reluctant. But Death spares no one.
See details of the figures in this travelogue.
Location: on the facade that points towards the big parish church, in the courtyard between church and chapel. Free access 24/7.
The tutorial on timberframe architecture begins already on the way from the station into the old town. The direct way is a small path along the park and gardens. Along this path, models of different historical constructions in original size have been put up. Each of them is about 2 metres high and shows one element, or figure, that can be found on the half-timbered houses in the town.
For example, the Franconian Man (Fränkischer Mann), a vertical beam with diagonal bracings at the top and bottom that, with some imagination, resemble uplifted arms and outstretched legs. Or the Alemannic Woman (Alemannisches Weible, photo 3), similar but with short "arms" and a wide curved "skirt".
Or K-shaped bracings, or the St. Andrew's Cross (Andreaskreuz) in the shape of an X that refers to the legend about the crucufication of Andrew the apostle. Etc.
The constructions are explained well and the descriptions also point out on which houses this particular construction can be found. The boards are in German only, though. For those of you with some command of the language, reading the explanations will be of interest before exploring the town and its buildings. The others should at least have a look at the models and remember the shapes. You will find them all in town.