The zoo in Landau is not very big but excellent. It is run as a modern scientific zoo according to IUCN standards. The zoo takes part in several breeding programmes of endangered specieses and administers the international breeding register for the Philippine Spotted Deer.
They have animals from all continents but only a selection of specieses, as space and conditions allow. In the middle of the town the zoo cannot expand. Tigers, zebras, penguins, chimps are there, for example, but no elephants or lions. Bears used to be there but when they died of old age some years ago the zoo decided not to get new ones but give their large enclosure to the tigers instead. They rather show less animals but keep them well.
At the same time the zoo is a place of leisure and entertainment. It seems to be popular among local kids, there were lots and lots of families there. Visitory may feed some of the animals but only healthy food (pellets) that has been bought at the zoo. Signs at the enclosures state clearly where visitors can or cannot feed the inmates.
Landau zoo was one of the first that started educational programmes for children. They have a "zoo school" where schools can book lessons about a wide variety of topics about animals, nature, care for the environment and so on, which take place in the zoo. During the school holidays and on weekends they also offer activities and courses for children. The zoo school has received its own building in the zoo grounds a few years ago.
The zoo is located just north of the town centre within the walls of the 18th century fortress. From the market square it is a walk of less than 10 minutes.
More pictures in the travelogues.
Opening hours: March - October 9.00-18.00, November - February 10.00-1600 (hours of the cash desk. Visitory can stay until one hour after the closure of the cash desk.)
Entrance fees: adults 6 €, seniors 5 €, concessions 4 €, children 4-12 years 3 €. Different family and group tickets available.
Throughout the century Landau got its share of fires and destructions. Bein a fortress it was even more involved in wars. Only one quarter of the old town has never been severely damaged and still has a notable amount of architecture that dates before the big fire of 1689. These few blocks are located right north of the main square and east of Marktstraße around the old warehouse, the Chapel of St Catherine, the Frank-Loeb House.
The Kaufhaus (warehouse) served as the town's centre of trade from the middle ages. It was also used for meetings and dancing. The earliest known mentioning dates from 1315. Its present appearance derives from profound changes aroudn 1840 when it was refurbished according to the ideas of 19th century Neo-Romanesque historism. Facades and the stepped gables were renewed. The building was turned into a theatre and concert hall. In the 1990s it has been renovated and now serves as cultural centre.
The eastern facade is covered in a modern mural. It shows the invention and naming of the "Landauer", a type of horse-drawn carriage with a cover that folds to the front and back. Such a carriage was (first??) used by the Austrian King Joseph I. during the siege of Landau in 1702 and thus named after the town.
The fountain in front of it shows scenes from Landau's history - which take a bit of time to figure out, though.
Medieval Landau had no central square. The backbone of the town plan was a long market street, or street market, that ran through the entire town from north to south. A series of minor streets cut through the street market at a right angle. Even the modern town plan still shows this very old structure and the former market street is still named Marktstraße.
Marktstraße and several of its side streets are pedestrianized and this is where the shops are. Landau is actually much better for shopping than one would expect, especially for lower to medium budgets. There are several small local shops that don't exist in the large cities where the chains have taken over more or less everything.
Landau's Festival Hall was built between 1905 and1907 by the Düsseldorf architect Hermann Goerke in the style of Southern German Art Nouveau.
Although the artistically grouped external features of the structure remained for the most part untouched throughout the decades, renovation work carried out on the interior in the years 1958/1959 and 1971/1972 which involved extensive change had a major effect on the original work of Art Nouveau.
General refurbishment work carried out from 1999 - 2001 succeeded in significantly restoring the original image of the Large and Small Halls. This went a long way to re-capturing the air of splendour and quality once secured through the work of art now lost.
The old stage machinery underwent rareplacement and the stage area and foyer were rearranged and extended. The Large Hall received movable platforms to accommodate multi-level seating.
1415 first mentioning of the then free standing building "Das Alte Kaufhaus"
1839/40 renovation by August von Voit
1995 conversion into a culture centre
The beautiful drawing on the side facade explains the history of a "Landauer" called carriage, named after this town since the 18th century.
The French gate is the second of the two remaining gatehouses in Vauban's huge fortification which was built around the town in 1688-1691. It is pointing south, towards the mainland of France (Landau WAS part of France when it was built) and thus named the "French" gate.
The building is, unlike the neglected German Gate, well restored. It hosts a restaurant. The location is much closer to the lively town centre and pedestrian zone and far more attractive.
Post-war times brought a drastic and great change in politics: After being almost constantly at war for centuries, the two neighbouring nations France and Germany have become the closest friends and allies. A modern inscription honours the present French-German friendship.
Location: Obertorplatz, corner Reiterstraße/Xylanderstraße
In case you need to know a river with a name that starts in Q, for quizzes and such, here is one...
The streets along the river have probably been neglected for a long time. Modern town planning has decided to create a promenade walk with little bridges, with cafes and shops, benches and flower pots and such. This looks still very new and has not yet been accepted as much as the planners hoped, it seems. But there is potential...
A new catholic parish church was built on the southern edge of the old town shortly after 1900. The neogothic building with the two tall spires has become a landmark in Landau's skyline. If you arrive, for example, on the train from Karlsruhe this church is the first striking building you notice from afar.
The ground it was built on was part of the glacis on the outside of the baroque fortress. The fortress had been demolished after the war of 1871, so the ground became available. A whole new quarter was built in typical Gründerzeit style. The street behind the church is still named Glacisstraße, the only reminiscence to the fortifications.
The German gate is one of the two remaining gatehouses in Vauban's huge fortification which was built around the town in 1688-1691. The sheer size gives an idea how huge the ramparts must have been.
It was named the "German" gate because it is pointing north, towards Germany, as opposed to its southern opposite whichwas named the "French" gate (see separate tip).
The outward gable bears a relief of Louis XIV's symbol, the sun, and his motto. The ideology behind: just like the rays of the sun reaches and warms everyone equally, the reign of the good sun king means well-being for all his subjects. A popular symbol among absolutist rulers.
The building is unused and in a sorry shape. Seems the town does not know what to do with it. It is surrounded by a well kept garden with lawns and blooming flower beds, though.
Post-war times brought a drastic and great change in politics: After being almost constantly at war for centuries, the two neighbouring nations France and Germany have become the closest friends and allies. Both gatehouses have received inscriptions and memorials that point out the French-German friendship. Here it is the stone monument in the garden with two pairs of hands building a stone column. The sculpture was a donation of Ribeauville, Landau's French partner town, in 1987. It is entitled "Contruisons ensemble" - Let's build together.
Location: northern end of Königstraße
Laundau's history as a town begins in times of the Staufer dynasty who built a castle in what is now the northwestern corner of the town centre. After 1308 the castle was demolished and the material used to build a wall round the whole town. For a short time Landau obtained the privileges of a free imperial city. Only one tower is left of the medieval fortification, the so-called Galeerenturm.
Since France under Louis XIV annected Alsace in 1672/78 the area around Landau has been a border region. Being the largest town into the area Landau had quite some military significance. In 1689 Landau shared the fate of most towns and villages on both sides of the Upper Rhine: French troops burned it to ashes in the Palatinate Heritage War. Only a small quarter survived.
The left Rhine bank was then occupied and kept by France for some years. The French military engineer Vauban turned Landau into a huge baroque fortress of enormous extent. The stones of the medieval town walls were used in the construction. Not much is left of the ramparts and bulwarks, though. The impressive two gatehouses, French Gate and German Gate, give an idea of the measures the fortification had. It covered probably more ground than the town itself.
Landau was restituted to Palatine but conquered by France again in the Revolution Wars. Until 1813 the entire left Rhine bank remained French territory. A fresco in Kleiner Platz recalls the good news when the bailiff announces the victory of the German coalition over Napoleon.
Lanadau remained a military centre in the 19th century due to its location by the border and was again a significant base in the German-French War of 1870/71. In the 19th century the French baroque fortress was taken down and new military buildings were erected. Several of them are preserved, like the Red Casern which is now used by the university or the former barracks which have recently been turned into a shopping gallery and named Quartier Chopin .
The square east of the former Augustine monastery has been dedicated to Saint Edith Stein, who used to live in a Carmelite convent in nearby Speyer as Sister Theresia Benedicta vom Kreuz before her and her sister's deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The modern monument shows her portrait and signature in a steel frame. It is surrounded by a small park.
An oasis of peace in the town centre: The cloister of the former Augustine monastery next to the church. The late gothic cloister dates from the 15th century and has been integrated in the new baroque convent buildings that were erected in the mid-18th century. Old tombstones have been put up along the walls.
The beautiful garden in the courtyard with the fountain in the middle has been planted a few years ago by initiative of Landau citizens. Benches invite to rest.
The quiet cloister is used for meditation services and concerts and "talks by the fountain", meetings about religious topics.
World War II bombs have hit the complex and destroyed the eastern wing. A stone memorial on the wall recalls the 38 people who died in an air raid in that very spot.
Free entry in the daytime. Entrance is not through the church but through the portals next to the church into the convent building, both from Königstraße and Edith-Stein-Platz.
The catholic parish church zum Heiligen Kreuz (of the Holy Cross) used to be the church of the adjacent Augustine monastery until 1791 when the monastery was closed down. The gothic church was built in the typical plain pattern used by the mendicant orders, no steeple but just a tiny spire on top of the choir for the bells.
The church has been hit by World War II bombs. The architecture has been repaired in its former shape but most of the furniture, the windows, the organ are modern. The stone baptismal font, dated 1506, has been brought here from the Stiftskirche.
The three wings of the baroque convent buildings adjacent to the church surround a beutiful cloister (see separate tip).
The church is open in the daytime.
The tower is the last remnant of the fortifications in the place of the castle that used to be in the northwestern corner of medieval Landau. The castle was demolished in 1308 and the stones were used to build the medieval town walls. These were torn down when the French built the baroque fortress under Vauban. Only this tower remained to be used as prison. Soon it was nicknamed the "galley tower" instead of prison tower, and the name stayed.