Or……about Black Forest and cuckoo clocks……….
Baden-Baden was our base camp and we had a terrific time discovering its beauties, but while there we wandered around as well. From Baden-Baden the Schwarzwaldhochstrasse (Black Forest High Road) begins and it’s a wonderful trip to undertake. At the start it seems like any other road, but don’t be fooled, the B500 (its official name) soon become a vey different thing….
The Schwarzwaldhochstrasse rises quickly to the main ridge of the northern Black Forest, reaching the top at the Bühlerhöhe. When the weather is clear, there is a wide view over the Rhine plain toward the Vosges Mountains. From the Bühlerhöhe the Hochstrassee stays between 800 and 1000 mt above sea level past several mountain passes. The name Schwarzwaldhochstrasse was first used in 1930 after the completion of the section of road between Hundseck and Untersmatt made access to the high Black Forest easier. In order to draw the emerging automobile tourists to the mountain hotels, the roads in the high valleys were together labeled as a scenic drive. Under the Third Reich, further construction was done for strategic reasons, including finishing the uncompleted stretch between Ruhestein and Alexanderschanze through a nature preserve between 1938 and 1941. The entire route was completed in 1952.
Along the road we crossed deserted buildings and beautiful houses………….
and some “strange” road companions………….this sort of bike it’s called “trike”……….
We stopped for lunch at the The Naturschutzzentrum, (Nature Protection Center) at Ruhestein that gives informations about the Middle/North Black Forest Nature Park, one of a series of parks throughout Germany that aim to protect natural and cultural features of an area. The information center is also responsible for the Lotharpfad, an interpretive trail showing the effects of the 1999 storm Lothar.
Under the highest mountain in the northern Black Forest, the 1164 meter high Hornisgrinde, the road reaches the almost circular Mummelsee, a cirque from the latest ice age. According to legends, the lake is inhabited by a Nix and the King of the Mummelsee. Obviously, we had to see it ourselves, hoping for a encounter, but……… no way………
The next day we were supposed to meet a “virtual” friend living nearby, but the meeting was canceled, so we decided it was time to drive along another famous road, the “Deutsche Uhrenstrasse” (German Clock Route). This recreation route, certainly among Germany’s most beautiful, has been outlined by an active group of staff members along a line-up of villages, museums and several clock manufacturers. This stretch of road includes museums of high interest and delightful sights centered around the Black Forest clocks, clock factories, workshops and studios of clock shield painters.
The actual date, when the first clocks were built in the Black Forest cannot be clearly determined and is still in the dark. The date of 1640 is often found on follow ups, although it is by no means historically guaranteed. The first production period was approximately between 1670 and 1720, which is without any great significance since around 1700 the high region of the Black Forest had to
endure war conflicts between Austria and France. The actual start was after 1720. Soon after that the clock trade was widely spread in the high region of the Black Forest. The region of the clock makers in the 18th century stretched from St. Georgen in the north to Neustadt in the south. Though the main region of the early clock production was the area around Furtwangen. It is gladly assumed that the inherent aptitudes of the ‘forest artists” in connection with a distinct specialized knowledge in woodwork, indispensable for life in the mountains, has automatically led to the growing clock production. However, the decisive and advising involvement of the early monastery clergy in the Black Forest and their physical and mathematical capabilities should also be considered.
Our first stop was in Schonwald, where we had lunch in a cozy (and for once, fresh) place and where we visited a clocks workshop………
then the road lead us to Schonach, to the world biggest cuckoo clock, actually a little house, you can enter it and see the mechanism that makes it work………
the owner and artisan who built it explained us how it works, and told us to go outside because it was about the time when the alarm was set to strike…..and it did! a big bird told us it was 2.30pm in a very noisy way!
It was so hot, husband liked it better from afar and in the shade of a sort of iron “bollenhut” the typical ladies’ hat topped with pom-poms that has been part of the traditional costume worn by women in the three neighbouring Black Forest villages since around 1750. Young unmarried girls wear hats with red “pompoms” and married women hats with black ones. What can I say? I married a man with “balls”…………….
On our way back we had a stop in the city where the B500 ends, Freudenstadt. The city lies on a high plateau at the east edge of the north Black Forest, and is well known for its fresh air but not when we were there! Freudenstadt is a climatic health resort of international renown. In the 19th and 20th centuries, visitors of note included George V of the United Kingdom, the Queen of Sweden, John D. Rockefeller, and even the American writer Mark Twain. With its many hotels and guest houses, and its high-class cuisine, Freudenstadt remains a popular vacation spot for Germans from every part of the country.
The market square in Freudenstadt, the largest in the whole of Germany, is one of the town’s most famous features. Almost exactly square, it is framed by beautiful historical buildings, including some delightful arcaded houses accommodating dozens of little shops. The 50 fountains on the square provide quite a spectacle and offer a great way to cool off in summer.
Our stay in this region was at the end and the next day we moved on to north, hoping for a cooler weather………….