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Living History – Aschaffenberg, Germany

September 1, 2013

Aschaffenburg, (West) Germany, was my home for two years as an infantry soldier in the U.S. Army’s 3rd ‘Marne’ Infantry Division from 1981-83.   Like virtually every place in Europe, ‘A-Berg,’ as it was known to the G.I.’s stationed there, had seen a lot of history.  Over a thousand years had passed since Aschaffenburg was settled by the German ancestors of today’s townsfolk.  The city, northernmost in Bavaria, sits aside a bend in the Main River, and is also called ‘Aschaffenburg-am-Mein.’

Main River as seen from Johannisburg Palace, aschaffenburg

Main River as seen from Johannisburg Palace, Aschaffenburg
-Photo by Author

Another view of the main River from Aschaffenburg
-Photo by Author

The year of my arrival, 1981, was celebrated as the 1,000th in the history of the local cathedral, the Basilica of Saints Peter and Alexander.  This basilica church added some Gothic elements over the centuries, and has served as the center of town for all of its existence.  The visitor can see elements that have been added over the centuries, like layers of strata in a rock formation, each telling something of the times that authored them.

Basilica Church of Saints Peter and Alexander - detail view -Photo by Author

Basilica Church of Saints Peter and Alexander – detail view
-Photo by Author

The Sandkirche is another Aschaffenburg church with some history to it.  Built during the Counter-Reformation era, it features art and architecture that survived World War Two intact – alone among they city’s churches.  The Rococo style is ornate and one of the finest examples of its’ genre.

Sandkirche - detail photo of statue above the front entrance. -Photo by Author

Sandkirche – detail photo of statue above the front entrance.
-Photo by Author

A Renaissance-era castle, the Schloss Johannisburg, dominates

Schloss Johannisburg -Photo by Author

Schloss Johannisburg
-Photo by Author

the skyline and is one of the leading attractions of the city.  The building complex and parkways take at least a full day to enjoy and appreciate.

The cityscape, especially in the ‘Old Town,’ is medieval in character and preserves the feeling, even amidst modern intrusions like electric lighting, an air of traditionalism that is charming and genuine.

An Aschaffenburg streetscape. -Photo by Author

An Aschaffenburg streetscape.
-Photo by Author

View from the Author's barracks window (Fiori Kascerne). -Photo by Author

View from the Author’s barracks window (Fiori Kaserne).
-Photo by Author

Aschaffenburg did not lack for more modern attractions, however: It boasted an underground mall, a train station and a Hard Rock Cafe, among other evening hangouts frequented  by locals and G.I.s alike.  Some of the historic attractions, like the Heylands brewery, in operation since 1792 (closed in 2001), where one could enjoy ‘Aschaffenburg’s Grossest Bier,’ had attractions beyond the historic, especially for young G.I.s.

AbergHardRock

Aschaffenburg’s Hard Rock Cafe – Photo by Author

History is all around us; it is certainly easier to find in the Old World.  However, it can be found virtually wherever one lives, and while it may span a millennium, it’s still history – and it’s there to be enjoyed, appreciated and passed on to the next generation.

2 Comments
  1. Anthony ingemi nj permalink

    I was station in A burg from 1966 to 1967. The Dixie bar was the hot spot.
    I was in 3rd division, 1st battalion 4th infantry. C company. Mortars

    • I was in the 1st Bn, 4th Inf., Co. A mortars….11C all the way! The Dixie was gone when I got there; the ‘go-to’ place was the Rodeo, renamed the Logo right before I PCSd to Ft. Hood in ’83.
      Thanks for dropping by and sharing a memory.

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