Freiburg im Breisgau is the most southern city in Germany, but also one of the sunniest. A green and radiant city, not only because it is on the edge of the Black Forest: its mayor was the first environmentalist at the head of a commune of this importance. The center is entirely pedestrian and, just to the south, the Vauban eco-district is a model of sustainable urban development.
If the greenery is very present, water is not left behind. Since the Middle Ages, the bächle , small artificial streams fed by the river Dreisam, flow along sidewalks, forming a network of 9 km. In the summer, people of all ages like to soak their feet. In the quarters of the tanners and fishermen, between the gates of Swabia (Schwabentor) and St. Martin (Martinstor) , only vestiges of the old wall, is a broader canal which passes between the paved quays decorated with terraces of cafes, bars or restaurants. And in the middle … it’s a crocodile head (in stone!) That rises to the surface.
During the walk, Freiburg unveils an unchanging charm, despite an 80% destruction during the Second World War. The bombs however spared the cathedral , or Münster, one of the most beautiful in the country. Its construction began around 1200 and was completed more than 300 years later. Its flamboyant Gothic style impresses, its pink color, that of the Black Forest sandstone, astonishes, and its size imposes: 133 steps lead to the top of the bell tower of 116 meters, perforated like a stone lace.
Upon entry, the porch fascinates with its 400 Biblical statues surrounding the beautiful carved wooden doors, the XVII th century. Inside, medieval stained-glass windows bear the coat-of-arms of the brotherhoods involved in their financing: bretzel of bakers, scissors of tailors, shoemaker’s boot, etc. Through the four organs, concerts are held regularly.
The square around the religious edifice attracts by its market , every morning except Sundays and public holidays, and by the residences of different periods: the most beautiful is that of the merchants, or Kaufhaus , intact since 1532, with colored tiles, arcades and small corner towers. The old guardhouse with the yellow facade, called Alte Wache, became the house of the Baden wine. Nearby, a baroque mansion of 1761 houses the Museum of History of the city , interesting, in particular, for its models of the city and the ramparts in 1600 or fortifications of 1700, in the form of star.
Behind the cathedral square stretches Konviktstrasse , an adorable cobbled street with a medieval layout, surmounted by a wisteria, bordered by a fountain, bächle , art galleries, antique shops, pretty decoration and fashion boutiques and of colored buildings: it looks like the South!
Around Friborg: vines and peaks
The region’s enthusiasts nicknamed it German Tuscany . Of course, it is a land of viticulture, with the Kaiserstuhl and the Tuniberg , or even further north, Gengenbach , a charming village whose vines give very good wines.
But the surrounding area of Friborg is mostly mountainous. The nearest summit is Schauinsland (1,284 m above sea level), which can be reached by walking or taking the cable car and hiking and cross-country skiing. The highest point of the Black Forest, the Feldberg (1493 m) is about forty kilometers south-east of Freiburg. It offers a captivating panorama of the Alps, the Vosges and the surrounding area, dotted with lakes, such as Titisee , which is popular for sailing, or Schluchsee , the largest lake in the Black Forest.
To the natural beauty is added the richness of the local traditions. Starting with the Cuckoo Clocks of which the Black Forest is the cradle … One can admire a vast collection at the German Museum of Watchmaking , in Furtwangen, 40 km east of Friborg. It has some 8,000 pieces from all over the world, from sundials to rare watches, to clocks.
Further north, the tourist village of Triberg has a Black Forest museum (Schwarzwaldmuseum), which also exhibits magnificent clocks, but also automatons, barrel organs and old costumes.
To stay in the folklore, you have to visit the open-air museum of Vogtsbauernhof . Traditional buildings have been reconstructed and craftsmen demonstrate ancestral craftsmanship in mills, ovens, forges and farms, one of which dates back to 1570.
Continuing northwards, towards Baden-Baden, the ridge route (B500) is punctuated by splendid landscapes: moors, ruins, waterfalls and lakes unfold over the kilometers.