Freiburg (Freiburg im Breisgau), a city in the south-west of Germany, with about 220,000 inhabitants, is often called the city of forest, wine and Gothic. Thanks to its position on the western slope of Schwarzwald, and in the warmest part of Germany, Freiburg is primarily known for its mild, sunny and pleasant climate.
It is famous for its medieval cathedral and Renaissance university, as well as for its high standard of living. It became a major commercial, intellectual, and ecclesiastical center of the upper Rhine region in the early twelfth century. Situated in the heart of the major Baden wine-growing region, and close to France and Switzerland with excellent traffic connections, it is often the starting point for tourists to enjoy spectacular beauty of the Black Forest and surroundings.
The task to visit its major sights in a few hours is quite feasible, so here is my suggested itinerary that will save you some time and energy.
- The town hall (Rathaus)
- Freiburg Minster (Freiburger Münster) started
- The Historical Merchants’ Hall (Historisches Kaufhaus)
- The Schwabentor (Swabian Gate)
- The Martinstor (Martin’s Gate)
- The Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg)
- The University Library Freiburg (Universitätsbibliothek Freiburg)
- Freiburg City Theatre (Stadttheater Freiburg)
- Freiburg Concert Hall (Konzerthaus Freiburg)
- Blue Bridge (Blaue Brücke)
- Sacred Heart Church (The Herz-Jesu-Kirche)
Our tour will start from one of the most beautiful buildings in Freiburg, the New Town Hall, which was created by merging two houses from the 16 century with a central arcaded section. It is also connected to the Old Town Hall, built from 1557/1559 with a prestigious columned doorway as assembly between them. The building is beautifully maintained, decorated with plenty of flowers in summer, and an unavoidable background for your photos. There is a cute little park in front of it, where you can sit and watch people passing by and couples coming for their civil marriage ceremony.
It is located close to the Freiburg Cathedral, so it will be our next checkpoint.
The construction of Freiburg Minster (Freiburger Münster) started around 1200 in Romanesque style, but continued in Gothic style in 1230. Its tower with 16 bells, considered one of the most beautiful towers in the whole of Christianity, is nearly square at the base, dodecagonal star gallery at its center, octagonal, and tapered above.
It is the only Gothic church tower in Germany that was completed in the Middle Ages (1330), and has lasted until the present, surviving miraculously the bombing in 1944, which destroyed many houses around it at the market. Even the windows had been taken out of the spire at the time by church staff, so that they suffered no damage either.
In 1827, long after it was built. Freiburg Minster became the seat of the newly erected Catholic Archdiocese of Freiburg, and thus a cathedral.
In the early 16th century, the Cathedral master builder Lienhart Müller extended the original structure on the south side of the Minster Square, with the construction of the Historical Merchants’ Hall (Historisches Kaufhaus). Thanks to its dominant red facade, and sumptuously decorated turrets and arcades, it stands out as one of the most gorgeous buildings in Freiburg.
Behind the wide entrance, there is a large 300-square-meter inner courtyard, where merchandise storage area used to be, and which is now used for outdoor events.
Following Augustinergasse and then taking Oberlinden Street on the left, we will get to the Schwabentor (“Swabian Gate”), another important landmark of this city. The Schwabentor, is the most recent of the two remaining city gates of the medieval defensive wall of Freiburg.
It is easily confused with the other, the Martinstor, but this one is larger and with a beautiful painting of St George, patron of this city.
The gate was built in the middle of the 13th century from red sandstone, and it has three storeys. The staircase tower and half-timbered extensions were added later, in the 16th century.
We will reach The Martinstor (Martin’s Gate) following Gerberau Street.
The older of the two gates of Freiburg was also known as Norsinger Tor in medieval times, and it dates back to the year 1202. Over the centuries, it has been reconstructed several times. It also served as a prison at a certain point, and its occupants were said to have dressed “The Cloak of Martin“.
In 1901, the Martinstor was heightened from 22 to 60 meters and it got a new roof construction in the architectural style of the 15th century, and an additional gate.
There is a fast-food restaurant (McDonald’s) inside the western part of the arch, which was built in 1901. The city council could not prevent this, but at least they managed to avoid the company’s red and yellow sign, and got a more decent coloring. That is why many people referred to Martinstor as McDonald’s-Tor.
Following the same direction, we will get to the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg). It is a public research university founded in 1457 by the Habsburg dynasty as the second university in Austrian-Habsburg territory, after the University of Vienna. Next to it, there is the University Library Freiburg (Universitätsbibliothek Freiburg, UB), open to students, but also to all interested members of the public.
Right next to the library, we will see Freiburg Theatre, sometimes also referred to as Stadttheater Freiburg (Freiburg City Theatre), the oldest and biggest theatre in the city, and turning left to Bertoldstraße, we will get to another important building, Freiburg Concert Hall (Konzerthaus Freiburg). It was opened to the public in 1996, as one of the most controversial building projects in Freiburg since the end of World War II. With its multifunctional great hall, it serves as a venue for different events, such as concerts, performances, conventions and meetings.
Wiwilí Bridge (Wiwilíbrücke) or Blue Bridge (Blaue Brücke), will take us to our last destination in this tour, to the Sacred Heart Church (The Herz-Jesu-Kirche), a recent, beautiful Catholic church consecrated in 1897, with a double tower facade, and with an amazing garden around, ideal to spend the rest of our free time there.
Please bear in mind that all my itineraries are made with the intention to allow you to see as many important sights of the city as possible in short time and with the fewest steps.
As always, I will be more than happy to read your comments and suggestions!