Here's a scene from Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, as shown in a display case outside the theater.
Though most of the performances will be here in the Pforzheim Theater, they are also going to take this opera on tour and play it in various other towns in the Black Forest, such as Nagold and Villingen-Schwenningen.
Second photo: Soprano Camille Butcher at the stage entrance before the performance of The Marriage of Figaro.
Third photo: In the foyer of the Pforzheim Theater.
Fourth photo: Looking down at the foyer.
Fifth photo: I took this photo looking straight up at the ceiling of the large hall. Though it looks as though there has been some damage caused by water leaking through the ceiling, it is in fact a work of art, and the ceiling is perfectly dry.
Pforzheim has a long tradition as a center of the jewelry and watch-making industry. In a building called the "Jewelry Worlds" (Schmuckwelten) in the city center there are numerous shops and exhibits devoted to these products.
VT member DavidKeeling, who is a goldsmith himself, has posted two highly interesting travelogues about goldsmithing and jewelry making on his Pforzheim page.
Second photo: In the basement there is a small mineral museum.
Third and fourth photos: A few blocks away there is also a Jewelry Museum, which unfortunately was closed on the Monday when I was there.
The square behind the modern city hall has been named "Platz des 23. Februar 1945" to commemorate the date of the city's destruction. It is for pedestrians only, with benches and flower beds and a modern fountain. However, the visitors it attracts are not necessarily people you'd like to meet after dark...
Next to the square a pedestrian bridge crosses the adjacent six-lane street and leads to the congress centre and the theatre, and from there down to the river. The bridge is named Gernikabrücke . Gernika, the holy town in the Basque country, Guernica in Spanish, is twinned with Pforzheim. Both towns share the same sad fate: Gernika was bombed by German aircrafts in the Spanish Civil War in 1937 (remember Picasso's painting).
The protestant parish church on the peninsula between Enz and Nagold rivers is a modern church, built in 1962-1968 after plans by the architect Heinrich Otto Vogel. It substitutes the old Stadtkirche, a neogothic 19th century building, which was destroyed in the air raid of 1945. Stones from the rubble were reused in the new church.
The tall spire with its green pointed roof is visible from afar in the streets and along the Enz river and can help you to find your way.
The Franciscan abbey was already destroyed in the war of 1689 when Pforzheim shared the fate of many cities and towns in teh Southwest: being burned down by French troops in the Palatinate War. Only the gothic choir of the abbey church remained. After its destruction in 1945 it was rebuilt in the 1950s in its old shape. It is now a catholic parish church.
The seat of the magistrate is a huge 1970s (I assume) building in the heart of the city. Think about it whatever you like...
Two details are worth noticing:
- The sculpture of a person standing on the edge of the roof, photo 3.
- the clockface and the carillon that chimes a little melody every hour (or even half an hour?), photo 4.
The tourist information is located in the northern wing of the city hall.
The water and the accompanying green along the Enz attract many birds. They are used to people and traffic and are easy to spot, although they keep a certain safety distance.
My best spotting was this withe-throated dipper or water ouzel (Cinclus cinclus). Normally rather shy birds who live in rocky river beds, they have entered the city here. They like sitting on the rocks in the middle of the river, watching out for prey in the water. Apologies, the photo is not very good.
In Pforzheim's centre the rivers Enz and Nagold meet. The river banks have been turned into promenade walks in the city centre. Further out, foot and bike trails accompany the river banks. On a warm spring day like this, the walk along the river was especially pleasant.
You can even hire pedal boats for a little cruise on the Enz at Bootspitz behind the theatre.
The catholic parish church of the city centre is a remarkable 1920s and 1950s architecture. The architect Otto Lindt from Stuttgart designed it in 1929. In the infamous 23rd February 1945 the church was heavily damaged, but the western wall with the main portal and the steeple survived. Already in 1948 the rebuilding of the church began. The parish community hired again Otto Lindt for the planning. Lindt made some changes to his original plans to improve his work.
The church on the southern bank of the river Enz is a wide oval hall under a dome. The big fresco on the wall behind the main altar, a relief in ceramics, shows the crucified Christ not on a cross, but on the Tree of Life, thus death and resurrection, Good Friday and Easter in one. It is a younger addition, created by the artist Wilhelm Müller in 1975.
A few pieces of the 1920s interior still exist. To be mentioned: the two stone reliefs beside the doors showing St Theresa and St Antonius of Padova, 1929 by Edward Mürrle, and the statue of Blessed Bernhard von Baden in the baptismal chapel. The small stained glass windows in the wall underneath the gallery depict the stations of the Way of the Cross (1949 by Edzard Seeger).
The church is open in the daytime.
The huge art nouveau church was built to substitute the old village church of Brötzingen, which had become too small for the growing western quarters of the city. It was built in 1909-1912, the later years of Jugendstil / art nouveau. Jugendstil decorations were often combined with baroque and neoclassical architecture and modern concrete structures in those years.
The adjacent parsonage house and community rooms were built at the same time and form an ensemble with the church. This quarter escaped the destructions of the war.
The church does not seem to have regular opening hours. Next time I'll make an appointment to see it.
The times of the Plague are shown in a panorama of the town, about 2 to 1.5 metres in size. It is a wooden relief with some mechanical elements, obviously handmade by some enthusiast some decades ago. It shows the old town of Pforzheim at night, with steeples and old houses and the watchman on a tower. When you approach it, some pieces start to move. A window opens, a light falls into almost deserted streets. The water is running down the little creek. Bats circle around the spire on the left. The full moon on a stick moves from left to right and back (wrong direction, LOL) The watchman is walking up and down behind the tower window. A rat is running around in a circle. And then, behind the house on the left, a cart with a coffin appears and slowly crosses the square to the right. When it is gone, a funeral procession goes the same way.
That thing is scaaary… and at the same time oh so funny in its old-fashionedness, despite the sad topic. I loved it. This was my favourite piece of the museum. It can be admired in the choir of the old church. Take your time to watch and discover all the moving pieces.
About the only quarter of Pforzheim that survived the war relatively unharmed and still has a notable ensemble of pre-war architecture is that area in the west of the city that used to be the village of Brötzingen. The village has long been incorporated into the city. Its centre includes the 18th century village church and parsonage, the 19th century schoolhouse, the art nouveau Christuskirche and some more older houses.
The small village church was substituted by the much larger Christuskirche in 1912 and later became part of the museum. Its oldest visible parts are late gothic but its origins date back to the 13th century. Between 1765 and 1770 the steeple and the nave were rebuilt in late baroque/early neoclassical style after designs by Wilhelm Jeremias Müller.
The village school , now the main building of the museum complex, was built in 1854. It served as schoolhouse until 1888, and then was turned into apartments for the teachers.
The old parsonage buildings are located behind the church. The parsonage house contains a café with beer garden in the front yard, and rooms for temporary exhibitions of the museum. A stairway leads around the house down into the backyard. Since all parsons did a little farming in former times, there are economy buildings, stables and barns in the back. One hosts a puppet theatre, the others are used by the museum as lapidarium. Don’t miss walking through the stable; you’ll discover a cute little baroque garden behind it.
Further down the side street (Kirchenstraße) there is a beautiful 18th century half-timbered house. It hosts another museum, that of the associations of expellees from former German territories in the east.
Visiting the museum is free.
Opening hours: Tues-Thurs 14:00-17:00, Sun 10:00-17:00
The museum presents different aspects of the town’s history, divided among the three buildings.
The old church presents the older times on the ground floor. Models show the state of the town around 1890 and a reconstruction of the castle. In 1447 the town saw the greatest celebration in its entire history, the wedding of Prince Karls, son of Margrave Jakob I, with Katharina von Habsburg, the sister of Emperor Friedrich III – four dioramas with thousands of tin figures show scenes of this event. A life-size classroom in the Latin school recalls the time of humanism and reformation. 3D pictures show the burning city in the wars of the 17th century; red and green glasses are provided. Some presentations look a bit old-fashioned and do-it-yourself but I enjoyed them even more because of that. My favourite piece about the plague deserves a tip of its own.
Original late medieval frescoes are visible above the choir arch (photo 1) and in the sacresty.
The gallery of the church is devoted to the early 20th century. The reconstruction of an art deco cinema represents the 1920s. The focus is on the darkest day in Pforzheim’s younger history, February 23, 1945 when the city sank into ashes and rubble within a few hours.
The former school house shows an exhibition on arts and crafts with a number of rebuilt workshops, like shoemaker, saddler, potter and, of course, goldsmith and watchmaker. The upper floor shows how people lived in town and in the countryside.
The former stables and barns of the parsonage contain the Lapidarium with sculptures and reliefs. Temporary exhibitions are shown in the parsonage house.
Visiting the museum is free.
Opening hours: Tues to Thurs 14:00-17:00, Sun 10:00-17:00
The art nouveau tower on the hilltop next to the train station is a landmark in the cityscape of Pforzheim. It belongs to an office building that was built in 1901-1903 for the district administration. Nowadays it is occupied by police headquarters. Due to its location on the same hill as the train station you will already see it from the train.
Pforzheim used to be the residence of the Margraves of Baden in the 15th and 16th century. When the house of Baden divided the territory in 1515, one line named themselves Baden-Pforzheim for a few decades, later they moved to Durlach and became Baden-Durlach.
Their castle resp. palace was located on a hilltop above the old town, which is now very close to the train station. The castle has never been very impressive. A model in the Stadtmuseum (photo ) shows what it looked like. Most of it was torn down already in the 19th century, and the rest in World War II.
Not much is left: one small building, the so- called Archivbau (archive building), one arched gate and a few low walls that indicate the extension of the castle, and a piece of the town wall. The only preserved tower of the medieval fortifications is Leitgastturm on the slope just below the castle grounds.
The adjacent church, still named Schlosskirche, makes a more impressive appearance. The late Romanesque church (13th century) suffered heavy damage in World War II but was rebuilt afterwards. It is a landmark in cityscape.
Opening hours for tourist visits are limited to a few hours on Thursday afternoon.