The catholic parish church, built in 1860-1862, has preserved its neogothic interior. Altarpieces, pulpit, organ and gallery, confessionals, statues all originate from the era when the church was completed. Only the stained-glass windows are younger. They were created around 1970 and depict mostly scenes from the life of Mary. The benches have also been substituted by more comfortable modern ones.
The church is open in the daytime. The entrance is from the Western side through the steeple.
Juliusplatz is a few steps from the busy market square but a lot quieter. The middle of the square is occupied by the large neogothic church of St Mary. The square is surrounded by other important historical buildings, including the Casimirianum and the baroque town hall. The little park around the church has a couple of benches under trees, and even a picnic table - the perfect spot to consume the fruit you just bought on the market...
Marienkirche is the catholic parish church of the town. It was built in 1860-1862 because the choir of Stiftskirche had become too small for the growing community. The new church is almost as big as the much older Stiftskirche. King Ludwig I of Bavaria (Palatine was under Bavarian rule then) supported the project with a generous donation. The design was provided by Vincenz Statz, master builder at Cologne cathedral.
The sandstone monument commemorates the fallen soldiers from Neustadt in World War I. The sculpture on top is not one of the usual heroic scenes. Both the warrior, naked except for the helmet, and his horse look tired, hanging their heads and mourning the many men who lost their lives on the battlefields. The inscriptions on the pillar list their names.
Location: corner Hauptstraße/Klemmhof
The beautiful complex of half-timbered houses hosts two institutions that can do with such a romantic location: the House of Wine where the local wineries present and sell their products, do tastings etc., and the civil registration office. (The restaurant in the courtyard has arrangements for wedding receptions so you can have the whole celebration in one place.)
Don't miss the courtyard. Just walk in through the gate. Even if there is no wedding and even if the winery is closed,. the renaissance architecture is worth seeing. In fact, the architecture is best enjoyed when both are closed and the courtyard is empty...
The porch in the West, or "paradise", has a feature which is easily missed: the frescoes in the vaults. They date from the era around 1500 and show why the term "paradise" is applied to a church's porch. Heavenly staff assemble over the entrance: angels with musical instruments; prophets, the symbolic creatures that represent the four evangelists, the church fathers.
The nave of Stiftskirche, i.e. the protestant part, recently underwent a through restoration and renovation. Last time I visited it was a construction site with no access, now (2013) it has been reopened. Parts of medieval frescoes in the vaults and high up on the walls came to light. Everything else has been freshly painted and looks almost too 'new' and polished for my taste. The benches have been removed, those cheap folding chairs in the nave look terrible...
Opening hours are listed as Monday to Saturday 11.00 - 15.00, and after the morning service on Sunday. If you are in town on a Saturday morning you may want to consider the 30 minute "market concerts" that begin at 11.30.
The church was donated by the first Elector of Palatine, Ruprecht I, in the mid 14th century. In the 15th and 16th century the ruling dynasty had their gravesite inside the church. French occupation in the Palatinate Heritage War and the Peace of Rijswijk lead to the division of the church between Calvinist Protestants, who kept the nave, and Roman Catholics who received the choir. A wall separates both parts. Removing this wall has been discussed in recent years but the decision was made to keep it a a piece of the church's heritage and also because of the valuable mosaic from the early 20th century on this wall, which shows Christ resurrected above the open grave.
The nave contains the grave of Zacharius Ursinus, reformator of Palatine and one of the authors of the Heidelberg Catechism, who lived and worked in Neustadt for several years. A brass plaque on one of the pillars (photo 5) refers to his gravesite. A modern stained glass window (far left on the Southern side) shows Ursinus together with two other reformators. For the 450th anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism, in 2013 a small exhibition about Ursinus and his works is on display in the Southern side nave.
The main church of the town, built more than 500 years ago, is the dominant building in market square. Like many churches in Palatine it was divided and simultaneously used by Calvinists and Roman Catholics until the latter built their own parish church, Marienkirche, in the 1860s.
Stiftskirche has recently been throughly renovated - in 2011 it was a construction site and I was not able to enter - and is reopened now; see separate tip about the interior.
The church is still divided by a wall between nave and choir. The protestant parish community has the nave as their main parish church. A small catholic congregation still uses the choir. I have not yet figured out whether this catholic part, which is said to contain the tombs of several Counts of Palatine from the middle ages and baroque, Jesuit interior, can be accessed. The nave is open from 11.00 to 15.00 on weekdays and irregularly also on weekends. Every Saturday at 11.30 there is a free "market concert" in the nave.
The southern steeple has no spire but a little baroque house on top. Until 1970 this was the home and workplace of the last tower watchman in Germany. The steeple can be climbed every Saturday at 12.00 with a guided tour.
Neustadt escaped the fate of most cities, towns and villages in the Palatinate Heritage War of 1689: being burned down by French troops. The town owes its good luck to a young lady named Kunigunde Kirchner, daughter of a Neustadt citizen, and her love affair with the French general de Werth. For her sake the general spared her town.
The street where Kunigunde lived has been renamed after her. Two modern busts depict the couple: Kunigunde is standing in front of her house (no. 15), the general some steps away on the corner of Kunigundenstraße and Hauptstraße. They are looking at each other longingly over the distance.
Currently (summer 2013), though, there are construction works in Hauptstraße and the bust of the general is temporarily gone.
A monument has been set to Palatine’s famous fairytale birds in the middle of Neustadt. The shy nocturnal creatures come to life in the middle of the town. The sculptors Gernot and Barbara Rumpf have created it. The couple is famous for their fancy fountains. Their works can be found in many towns, but they live in Neustadt, so this was a ‘home match’.
Elwetritschen – see local customs tip – are a cross of Chicken, ducks or geese with elves and goblins. This results in six-legged creatures that are half birds and half elves/goblins. The Rumpfs gave their figures striking human qualities and features. There is the fat Queen of the Elwetritschen sitting on the edge of the fountain. The town mayor, teeth bared, and the leader of the opposition in the town council, both spitting water at each other at regular intervals. Elwetritschen chicks munching grapes. Also on the edge of the fountain, there is a group of eggs in different sizes with a chick just hatching. Due to their goblin ancestry, Elwetritschen eggs grow with the development of the chick. Of course there is also a hunting scene with sack and lantern – you can have your photo taken as successful hunter, holding the sack while the Elwetritschen are jumping in.
Location: in the small square formed by Schwanengasse, Marstall and Landschreibereistraße in front of Klemmhof and the municipal library.
My first photos were taken in winter when the water was turned off. In the meantime I finally made it to Neustadt in summer and caught some pictures with the water turned on - see more photos in the travelogues on this page!
On the one hand, the fountain is more impressive and picturesque with water. On the other hand you can approach the figures more closely and see the details better when there is no water and no danger of being spit at by the mayor. *
Hambach Castle is located on the Schlossberg (Castle Mountain) at an elevation of 325 m in the Pfälzer Wald (Palatinate Forest). As the name indicates it is a part of Hambach, a suburb of Neustadt an der Weinstrasse. The area of the castle had been settled since Roman time and the castle itself was built in the 11th century.
Hambach Castle (Hambacher Schloss) is a symbol of German democracy as a result of the Hambach Party (Hambacher Fest) in 1832. Read on for more details about that famous party.
The Hambach party of 1832 was a revolution-like demonstration of the Palatinate people since the Palatinate belonged to the Kingdom of Bavaria in those days. In quite an uncool way the Bavarian administration had annulled many of the democratic rights that had previously been bestowed on the Palatinate people by the French revolutionaries (who governed the Palatinate from 1797 - 1815). Ever since that uprising, commonly referred to as Hambach Party (Hambacher Fest), the Hambach Castle has been considered an important symbol of democracy. No party is complete without beverages and since Neustadt is located on the Wine Route, I'd assume they drank fine local wine and perhaps some beer as well.
Before the 150th anniversary of the Hambach Party in 1982 the castle was completely renovated. It is now frequently visited by all sorts of politicans from various countries to hold more or less interesting (usually less revolutionary) speeches, for business conferences, by school classes for practical history lessons, and by boatloads of people interested in history, revolutions and democracy. On several occasions we have tried to make our way up to that castle but haven't been quite successful yet with our attempts. Either the parking lot was completely full or admission was not permitted due to an important, organized event. I guess it's time to start another Hambach Party with the motto: "Fewer cars, fewer politicians, and more revolution!" Viva la revolución!! ;-)
Good luck if you want to visit Hambach Castle! If you end up in the same situation we did, you'll at least be able to enjoy the beautiful view and the lovely scenery of the Palatinate Forest. And this is not all that bad, is it? After all, we enjoyed hiking in the Palatinate Forest and just admiring the castle from as close-up as possible.
The “Stork Tower” does not have a stork’s nest, so it is not obvious how it received this name. It is the last preserved tower of Neustadt’s fortifications. It is visible best from the playground in Marstall, just round the corner from the Elwetritschen fountain.
Footnote for families with small kids: playground!
The “Black Lion” has a long tradition. It dates back to at least 1600, if not further. The half-timbered house has the typical wide gate that leads into the courtyard. Don’t miss walking in – the courtyard is an architectural gem. If you are into fine dining, the restaurant in the courtyard may be just the right thing for you.
The back house of the Black Lion is the seat and headquarter of the Weinbruderschaft der Pfalz (Wine Brotherhood of Palatine), an association of people (only men, as far as I know) who are involved with wine in whatever way. In other words, a rather elitist club respective order.
Neustadt has many sculptures but this is one that I particularly liked. On a stone block that serves for whatever technical purposes, a bronze man is sitting, legs dangling, and reading his newspaper. His hat and bag are carefully placed next to him on his bench. This sculpture was, like the hammer thrower in the town hall, created by F. W. Müller-Steinfurth.
Location: Juliusplatz, in the corner towards market square.
There were times when Neustadt was the seat of a university. Palatine was the first territory in Germany that introduced the second, the Calvinist reformation. Since the state university in Heidelberg was still Lutheran, Elector Johann Casimir founded a Calvinist university of theology here in 1578. The university building has been named Casimirianum after the founder. As headquarters of a university, it is not very big. The prettiest side is the front towards Ludwigstraße with the stair tower. (Be careful, this is a busy main street.) The back side faces Juliusplatz and the neogothic Church of St Mary, the catholic parish church with its park-like churchyard.
Have a closer look at the wall of the church, especially the part facing the market square, west of the entrance door. There are lots of inscriptions and incised drawings on the sandstone. Some must be qualified as graffiti while others actually served for a legal purpose. Note the carefully designed Brezel (pretzel) shapes. These are the measures the bakers had to observe. (At least, that’s what the leaflet I got from the tourist information says. I am a bit doubtful because there are so many pretzels in all different sizes.)