We chose to make Freiburg home-base for exploring the Black Forest because it’s the largest town in the region and accessible to many of the areas we wanted to explore. Though the Black Forest is a well-known Christmas destination, this time of year is very quiet so we wanted to make sure to stay somewhere with at least a little bit of activity.
Freiburg has a youthful, relaxed feel to it. Part of that is attributable to it being a university town since the 15th century, and part of it (according to locals; I don’t claim to know the historical nuances between German and Austrian mannerisms) is because it was under the protection of the House of Habsburg from the 14th to 19th centuries.
We arrived on the last day of the Christmas market, which had a nice selection of crafts and local culinary specialties.
Though most of Freiburg was destroyed in WWII, there are many eye-catching structures.
The main attraction is the 13th-century Münster, which is crafted out of dark red sandstone quarried out of a nearby hill. The Dom is a mixture of Romanesque (transepts) and Gothic (everything else) styles. The high altar features a triptych of the coronation of the Virgin Mary by local artist Hans Baldung. The tower has a square base with an octagonal top and an elaborate spire. Once the renovation is complete, climb to the top for a view of the French Vosges.
The Historisches Kaufhaus is a 16th century arcaded merchants’ hall currently used as a government building. The coat of arms and the four figures represent members of the House of Habsburg.
Martinstor is one of the two surviving town gates.
The Neues Rathaus is actually three buildings – two Renaissance town houses flanking a newer section. There’s a carillon which is played at noon daily.
The 16th-century Altes Rathaus also merged several smaller buildings.
Medieval Martinskirche formerly belonged to the Franciscans. It was severely damaged in World War II, but was nicely rebuilt.
The most dangerous part of Freiburg is the Bächle, a city-wide system of rivulets fed by the River Dreisam that run parallel to many sidewalks. Originally, these were used for watering animals and as a precaution against fire; today, they’re a good way to twist an ankle if you’re not careful!Tweet