1. The Foreigner, by Guido Messer (1989)
2. Full view of The Foreigner, with his suitcase
3. Ecce homo, by Guido Messer (1997)
4. Einigkeit -- Persil bleibt Persil (1992/93)
All you loyal readers of my Pforzheim page (thanks again to both of you!) may recall that I wrote a tip about a sculpture called The Claque by Guido Messer (born 1941 in Buenos Aires).
A claque, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries, was a group of people who were paid to applaud certain singers or actors, or to boo others. Guido Messer's sculpture consists of four people clapping perfunctorily, with no sign of emotion on their faces. VT member Kathrin_E has found an identical group of four statues, by the same sculptor, on a street corner in Schwetzingen opposite the town hall and the Catholic church.
When I was in Weikersheim in the summer of 2009 they had an outdoor exhibition (from May 17 to September 27, 2009) of eighteen works of sculpture by Guido Messer, spread out all over the center of town. (This was a temporary exhibition, just for one summer.)
The sculptures included Der Ausländer (The Foreigner) from the year 1989, which by the way caused something of a controversy when it was displayed recently at the Cité nationale de l’histoire de l’immigration in Paris. Some people took offense (inexplicably) at the title L'étranger, saying it was offensive to foreigners, so eventually it was relabeled as Le voyageur (The Traveler).
The group the fourth photo, entitled Einigkeit -- Persil bleibt Persil, might require a bit of explanation for those who don't live in Germany. Persil is a popular German brand of washing powder that has been on the market here for over a century, since 1907 -- popular mainly because of their huge advertising budget.
The five resolute ladies in the sculpture are in complete agreement that Persil remains Persil no matter what anybody else might say -- they scornfully refuse to even look at someone like me who uses cheap discount washing powders at only one third the price and dares to assert that it's all the same stuff.
Since Persil supposedly gets everything so clean, it was the origin of the German word Persilschein meaning a clean bill of health or a denazification certificate. After the Second World War people in Germany had to have such a certificate to prove that they had not committed any war crimes. It was widely thought that too many of these certificates were issued too quickly, even to ex-Nazis who didn't deserve them.
This is where Jeunesses Musicales presents its open-air opera performances in odd-numbered years. Since I took the first photo in an even-numbered year, 2004, it doesn't show how they set it up.
On the smaller side next to the fountain they set up a small stage -- in 2003 it was a round construction filled with dirt and wood shavings, so they could bury things in the ground and pull them out at appropriate moments.
Then there was a metal platform for the excellent German Federal Youth Orchestra, and on the larger side of the fountain there were two sets of metal bleachers that could accommodate up to 1400 spectators.
The second and third photos show how the courtyard was set up for Giuseppe Verdi's opera La traviata in the summer of 2005.
Please have a look at the General Tips on this page for more information on the opera productions in Weikersheim in the years 2011, 2009, 2007, 2005 and 2003.
1. Weikersheim Castle Garden 2009
2. In the Castle Garden before the performance
3. During the intermission of the opera
4. Musicians playing a fanfare to signal the end of the intermission
Before the opera or during the intermission you can get a glass of champagne or Sekt here and go for a stroll in the garden.
This is a formal baroque garden, modeled after the one in Versailles, including an "Orangerie" at the far end.
There are over fifty statues of various sorts in the garden, depicting gnomes, Greek and Roman gods and goddesses, dwarves and figures that are supposed to symbolize the winds and the elements.
1. Exhibition on wine making
2. Wine making equipment
3. Wagon and barrels
Wine making has a long tradition in the Tauber Valley. It was first mentioned in a written document in the year 803.
Today the Tauber Valley is mainly a white wine region, dominated by Müller-Thurgau, but they also make Silvaner, Kerner and Bachus wines.
The Tauberländer Dorfmuseum (Village Museum) in Weikersheim documents the local wine-growing tradition and displays the sort of equipment that was used in this region until quite recently.
3. Washing utensils
The Tauberländer Dorfmuseum (Village Museum) also has an old harmonium that was rescued from destruction more or less by accident.
The loom (second photo) is one that was used for many years in a typical pre-industrial cottage-industry setting here in the Tauber Valley.
The washing utensils in the third photo may seem very historic to a lot of you, but some of us older folks can very well remember using just this sort of equipment to get ourselves clean. (But only in places that didn't have running water coming out of the faucet.)
1. Museum on Marktplatz in Weikersheim
2. Bedroom of an 18th century farm couple
3. Collection of pre-electric irons
4. Historical kitchen equipment
This museum is devoted to showing furnishings, tools and equipment that rural people in this area used to use in pre-industrial times.
I must admit that I have never ironed anything with a non-electric iron (third photo), but some of the kitchen stuff from the fourth photo seems very familiar to me, including the wood-burning stove.
The museum is only open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons (and public holidays) from April to October, from 13.30 - 17.00 aka 1.30 to 5.00 pm.
Admission is 2.00 € regular, but only 1.50 € for us elderly folks and 1.00 € for schoolchildren and students.
This "Goose Tower" used to be the city gate.
It now houses a small museum about the history of Weikersheim which I have always been meaning to have a look at, since I like that sort of thing. Remind me in 2011, please.
1. Marktplatz and Weikersheim castle
2. Marktplatz with tourist buses
The Market Square is a long oval-shaped area with the castle at the west end, facing the Protestant Church at the east end. On the longer north and south sides there are cafés, restaurants, hotels, a museum and the town hall with tourist information.
So it's definitely the center of all the action in Weikersheim.
OK, you might not expect a lot of action in a small town like this, but at least in the odd-numbered summers it gets quite lively when lots of talented young people are in town for the opera course. I was even here once in an even-numbered summer (2004) and met some nice people who were in town for other reasons.
The Marktplatz is mainly carfree, but they do let cars and buses drive around and stop in front of the church (second photo) to disgorge their passengers.
Also people with very expensive fat black German cars seem to be exempt from all regulations. They seem to think we'll be flattered to have them occupy our space with their big cars.
The historical city of Weikersheim is officially recognized vacation spot and is located directly on the Romantic road in "the Fine valley of the river Tauber". Weikersheim is the family castle of dukes Hohenloe whose name vicinities of city name. Here there was one of the finest residences of Renaissance, surrounded by magnificent gardens in the Versailles style. The complexity of a baroque epoch to green plantings is reflected in this beautiful garden.
You can also see the castle and the garden from the outside because there is a paved walkway called Prince Constantine's Walk, on which you can walk all the way around the outside of the castle and grounds in about twenty minutes. This walkway includes two footbridges over the Tauber River.
The walkway was named after Prinz Constantin zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg (1893-1973), a member of the Hohenlohe family who moved to Weikersheim in 1945, at the age of 52, because he was expelled from Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic) at the end of the Second World War, when all his land holdings there were confiscated.
He lived in Weikersheim Castle from 1945 to 1973, and devoted himself to preserving and caring for the castle and its furnishings. He was also the one who made it possible for Jeunesses Musicales to begin using Weikersheim Castle in the 1950s.
In 1967 Weikersheim Castle was sold to the state of Baden-Württemberg, but Prince Constantine went on living there and looking after the castle until his death at age 80 in 1973.
Count Wolfgang II of Hohenlohe was an alchemist who lived and worked in Weikersheim Castle around the year 1600.
The goal of all alchemists was turn transform ordinary metals into more valuable ones, and ultimately into gold. They never accomplished this, but while trying they developed techniques and insights that helped prepare the way for the modern science of chemistry.
This permanent exhibition in Weikersheim Castle shows how the alchemists worked at the beginning of the seventeenth century. It is open seven days a week from 9.00 to 18.00 from April to October, and from 10.00 to 12.00 and 13.30 to 16.30 during the winter season from November through March.
This "Knight's Hall" is one of the largest and oldest rooms in Weikersheim Castle. The furniture is gone, but the room is still impressive because of the many paintings on the walls and especially the ceiling.
Again, the only way to see this is by taking a tour of the castle.
Inside Weikersheim castle there are numerous rooms that still have their original furniture and tapestries.
This supposedly has to do with the fact that the Hohenlohe family died out after a couple of generations. The distant relatives who inherited the castle were preoccupied with other things and just left everything the way it was.
The only way to see these rooms is to take a tour. These are held at least once an hour during the opening hours of the castle.
The tours are conducted in German, but they have laminated information cards in several languages that they will lend you for the duration of the tour, so you can get an idea of what it is all about.
Weikersheim Castle was originally just a routine medieval fortress with a moat around it until the 16th century, when Count Wolfgang II of the house of Hohenlohe developed it into an imposing residence for himself and his family.
The castle is right on the market place and is the only large building in Weikersheim, so you can’t miss it.
It is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from April through October, and from 10 to 12 a.m. and 1.30 to 4.30 p.m. from November through March.
We advise to take a walk around old streets and to take pleasure in fine traditional architecture of medieval city.