It is a rare experience indeed when one walks about a medieval town, resplendent with archaic cathedrals and ramparts, winding alleyways and water filled canals or Bächle, yet coupled with hippie looking locals, smiling street vendors and mad cyclists, all in the one place. Wondering how to capture the essence of what was unfolding before me, I stopped by a narrow street with an archaic cobblestone pathway, in front of Bächle, and a row of old traditional Germanic buildings. Perfect setting; all I had to do was wait for an opportune moment. Moments later, I heard someone shouting “Juhu” a German expression of exhilaration and joy, as a crazy cyclist turned facing towards me with outstretched arms while balancing on his bike and continuing to ride along the street. I smiled and laughed as I clicked the shutter; this cyclist with so much character instantly entered into the gallery of my most beautiful experiences and fondest memories within my heart.
Walking along a narrow street, looking out about me at the elegantly designed and colourful buildings, I suddenly entered the main street much to my surprise. The entire setting magically changed, as I stumbled across numerous cafes, trade shops and street vendors selling everything from tulips to German sausages, much to my delight on a cold winters day. Walking through beautiful cobblestone streets, while attempting to dodge the many cyclists and not fall into the Bächle or small water canals spread throughout the inner city, one is delighted by the numerous examples of Classical Romanesque-Gothic architecture. The thought of how a medieval city could suddenly instantly transform itself into a cosmopolitan Bazaar, never ceasing to amaze instantly made me smile.
The large obscure wooden door adorned with cast iron decorations seemed barely visible in the quiet street. Looking around at the old cobblestone street and archaic buildings, the place seemed so quiet. All alone, my thoughts were resonating with the words ”I wonder what lay beyond the door”?. Slightly hesitant, yet unperturbed, and filled with childlike excitement I pushed the door which groaned heavily and proceeded up the dimly lit passageway. The walls on either side had faded; the passage of time had allowed cracks to weave a wonderful tapestry. It was dark and quiet however as I continued walking up this narrow winding corridor; suddenly light began to suffuse the corridor which opened up into a picturesque courtyard. A wonderful combination of colours decorating old doors, blue stone floors beautiful archaic fountains and facades caused me to marvel at the simplistic beauty of the picturesque courtyard before me, bathed in the morning light. The gentle sound of music, serene and beautiful made me yearn for an era long ago.
The climb up the steep and winding path was strenuous. Pausing briefly I surveyed the castle away in the distance, magnificently positioned in an elevated and defensible vantage point, reached only by a narrow and difficult route. “The king who once owned this castle chose his location wisely” I thought to myself. I paused for long moments and surveyed the amazing street and surroundings. Suddenly, I was plunged back centuries into the history books and tales of my childhood. Tales of noble knights on heroic quests and beautiful maidens brought back childhood memories. I smiled to myself, a young boy’s dreams had suddenly come to life. I had walked along winding narrow cobblestone streets, surrounded on either side by old stone buildings. Beautiful coloured bouquets of flowers ordaining balconies, providing a striking contrast to the grey stone buildings complete with red tiled roofs. Cast iron lanterns and street signs, archaic cobblestone pathways and towering stone ramparts manifested a truly medieval experience.
Crossing the busy road, I walked briefly up a narrow street before turning right onto the main street. The transition was amazing. An archaic cobblestone street opened up into a beautiful square. Ornate buildings from the Renaissance period, complete with antiquated wooden iron gilded doors plunged me into a bygone era centuries ago, one that I suddenly deeply yearned for. A beautiful fountain caught my attention. Moving towards it, oblivious to the multitude of sounds around me I gazed at the depiction of “The Baptism of Christ by St. John the Baptist”. The solemnity, reverence and purity in the statues’ expressions struck a chord in my heart. For long moments I gazed upon the figure of Christ, the person dearest to my heart and reflected on the meaning of sacrifice and love. Eventually I turned away and was greeted by a most beautiful facade. The cobblestone street gave way as if paying homage to a large archaic wooden door magnificently framed by multiple roman arches. The facade stretched superbly heavenwards, simplistically but elegantly ordained.
Walking along the narrow cobblestone street I paused before an old wooden brown door decorated with cast iron adornments. “I wonder what lay beyond?”. I had heard tales of merchants who long ago had used hidden passages to transport their expensive wares through the heart of the city. Unperturbed and filled with the excitement of the unknown I pushed the door which groaned heavily and proceeded up the dimly lit passageway. The sound of people walking in the street dwindled as I wound my way up a narrow ancient corridor; the walls on either side had faded, cracks had wound a tapestry on either side. Light began to suffuse the corridor which opened up into a picturesque courtyard. The combination of rich colours, green plants crawling along walls, beautiful archaic facades and doors plunged one back into an era long ago. Turning around in wonder I suddenly paused. A magnificent red tower, elegantly framed with arched windows and a spiral stone staircase rose up into the sky. The passage of time had merely added to its beauty.
As the sun began its journey westwards, the heavens cast their brilliant rays across the entire earth illuminating it with a myriad of hues. The radiant blue sky stretching over the snow capped Alps contrasted magnificently with the soft white angelic clouds. Walking along the ridge of the mountain I could not help but pause and look out in the distance, dimly aware of the cold autumn winds which playing danced around me, gently caressing my face. The sight was truly magnificent and beautiful to behold; one of those moments that I wanted to last for all eternity. With the sun’s descending behind the mountains I could now appreciate the full beauty of what lay before me, not having to shield my eyes from the radiance of the sun. The serenity, joy and exhilaration that I felt during my experience on this mountain was unsurpassed. I was walking at the edge of the world; within the depths of my mind heart and soul a voice gently whispered “Heaven on Earth”.