Claudia was born in Erfurt, which is in what is called the Green Heart of Germany: Thuringia. Her mother, Ursel, picked us up on Tuesday for a whirlwind tour of the area. I need to go back. I didn't realize that there were so many really fascinating places in that vicinity - the entire province is practically one big UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.
OK, all my fellow Sunday School drop-outs, pop quiz: What is the significance of Wittenberg.
Tick, tick, tick.
The keeners have their hands up, and yes, it is the home of the Protestant Reformation. Wittenberg. It was here that Martin Luther nailed his 95 these on the power of indulgences onto the door of the Castle Church.
The These Door has the Latin version of Luther's these overlaid in black bronze. The original door was destroyed during a war, I think a Napoleonic (so many wars).
Inside the Castle Church. The town of Wittenberg also has a town church with two towers on the Market Square. And these are old places. Wittenberg is a Renaissance town: the town hall was built between 1523 and 1535 to replace an even older structure.
The pulpits of the United Churches I've attended over the years were nothing like these ones.
Ursel Otto, Claudia's mom and our intrepid guide. She kept apologizing for her English and we kept assuring her it was absolutely fine, that we should be apologizing for our lack of German! We about wore out the 'translator' - her English-German dictionary.
One of the Lucas Cranach houses, now an art school. Lucas Elder and Younger were both famous painters. Lucas the Elder was also a printer, policitian and generally very important man about town. We saw a Madonna painting of his in the Erfurt Dom (cathedral) done in the 1530s.
Bryan and his buddy Lucas.
The next site was a complete 180 degree turn, and yet a piece of renaissance in its own right. It's the Lucas Melanchthon School redesigned by the famous artist and architect Freidensriech Hundertwasser. (Yes, I refer to notes for that spelling.)
In the early 1990s, the people of Wittenberg wondered what to do with a soulless, square box, typically 1970s GDR school. Hundertwasser took on the project, and it's like nothing you'll see anywhere.
I have other pictures of it: there are stylized domes on the roof corners, a rooftop garden, and I'm told the inside is just as wild and organic. Even the curriculum (this is a fully operational school) includes ecological issues.
The ubiquitous paving stones a la Hundertwasser.