Freiburg im Breisgau – A Gate to the Black Forest
This wealthy and laid-back city in southwest Germany is often affectionately called the “Jewel of the Black Forest”. The reason for that is simple and obvious: Freiburg im Breisgau is situated at the edge of the famous forest and it represents one of its main touristentry points. This, however, is not the only thing that the city is famous for.
Freiburg is also the sunniest place in the country, with a renowned medieval university, a remarkable 13th century cathedral and an overall high standard of living. It is thus an important intellectual, ecclesiastical and commercial center of the upper Rhine region. You can find it on both sides of the Dreisam River, in a wine-growing region with beautiful sights.
The main attraction of the city is the red sandstone cathedral known as the Freiburg Minster.This is one of the oldest and most beautiful churches in Europe, with fabulous lace-like spires (of which the tallest measures over 380 feet) and amazing gargoyles. Built on the ruins of a 12th century church, the minster began its life in 1200 as a Romanesque building, but was continued with stunning Gothic elements that have been leaving people in awe for centuries.
The impressive church tower (the only medieval Gothic one in the country) was completed in 1330, but it can still be climbed today for sweeping views of the city and its surroundings. Actually, on a very clear day you may even see the Vosges Mountains all the way in France. We assure you that making the effort to climb all the stairs up is entirely worth it.
In the square surrounding the cathedral there is a market full of exciting things to see and buy. Vendors will lure you with local produce and goods, and if you can’t decide what to get, we suggest you try a Bratwurst mit Brötchen (Bratwurst in a bun) for an authentic Freiburg experience.
Other things and places to see in the city include the University of Freiburg, which is the fifth oldest in the country and one of the top research and education institutions in Europe, the current and historic City Halls (only five minutes from the cathedral), the city’s only two remaining old gates called Martinstor and Schwabentor, and the Altes Kaufhaus in the cathedral’s square. For a little relaxation you can visit the Botanic Garden and the Seepark with its beautiful man-made lake.
- Freiburg features a series of small canals called Bächle, which were constructed in medieval times to fight fires. Tradition says that if a visitor happens to accidentally step or fall in one of them, he or she will marry a local person.
- For luxe accommodation try the Oberkirch Hotel & Restaurant, Clarion Hotel Hirschen, or Designhotel am Stadtgarten.