Posted on June 9, 2016
Nine months ago we made a reservation for an interesting cottage for two weeks on the edge of Freiburg. We liked the location because we could walk directly into the Black Forest as well as walk to the very center of Freiburg, a fine old university town of 220,000 people. This turned out to be a good decision. First the cottage was charming, quiet, large and convenient. Our hosts, who lived in the adjacent house, and their four children were just as charming. And our host was a medical doctor.
So, after only a single day in Freiburg, whereupon we walked the old part of town, enjoyed the market day and saw many of the things most tourists want to do, I caught a cold, the likes of which laid me low for ten days. The good doctor fortunately came to my rescue with pills of magical qualities. Within a day I rebounded with almost full vigor. Unfortunately during this down time we saw little of Freiburg but did spend lots of hours poking around in our suburb and taking short hikes up into the forest.
Our ancient village of Herdern is now fully absorbed by the ever expanding city of Freiburg, but its roots extend back 1000 years and precede Freiburg as a chartered town by 100 years or so. For a long, long time its economy revolved around growing grapes and making wine. But toward the end of the 19th century it changed its character completely, vineyards shifted elsewhere and other crops such as fruit began to take over. Then the area became gentrified as the well-to-do Freiburgers began to build fine homes here. Herdern became quite an upscale little village. It still is.
Lots of German culture exuded from our little surroundings. Let’s go take a look around. First, our host’s house is quite large, like most houses here in Herdern. It was built by a well-to-do carpenter in 1905, decorated with many wood carved features. In the center of the house is a grand staircase. Our hosts, who bought the house only 1.5 years ago have four children; they wanted room for the family. But they, like many people in Germany who live in large houses, live in only a fraction of it, namely the second floor. They have tenants on the other three floors, in addition to renting out the cottage in the back yard. Housing is scarce and there are many students who need rooms. The basement is dank with thick stone walls and side chambers, maybe for storing small unruly children. 🙂
Eva bought several books from the pleasant owner of this bookstore, one of numerous businesses scattered throughout our residential neighborhood, including businesses run from people’s homes, usually professionals.
Just one long block up the street is the heart of Herdern, centered around the Catholic church. The tree-covered space in front of the church is used for a twice a week market where meats, cheeses, bread and flowers can be purchased from small vendors. The other three corners are anchored by a bakery, a pharmacy, a cafe, and a gluten-free bakery next door. A few doors away is an Italian shoemaker and a violin maker. A bus stop is here, too. A trip to Freiburg takes 12 minutes (at a cost of about $2.50 for a single ride) and can be walked in less than half an hour.
Just as they have throughout Freiburg, Herdern has canals channeling water from the slopes above town.
Let’s take a walk through the flat parts of town developed about 100 years ago. A number of streets are named after famous German composers such as Bach, Beethoven and Brahms.
As we walk up to higher streets we come to interesting places.
As we climb a bit higher toward the forest we come to newer houses with quite a modern flair.
Now our snippet of Herdern is done. We’ll show you Freiburg after we spend a bit more time there.