A few months ago (in September, to be more precise), I was invited to come along for O.K.'s village band's annual day out. We did not travel far, only from the village to the nearby city of Offenburg, where we were booked for a guided tour underground.
Underground in this case meant visiting the cellars of various historical buildings in the town center, from medieval times to more recent ones. There were some surprises for us in store, and I could have taken many more pictures than I did, but you can imagine the lighting was not always favourable and also the limited space often meant I could not get a picture without some one or other from our group in it.
The first cellar we entered was a very large room, once used for storage. Nowadays, it contains a lapidarium, not unlike the one in Ludwigsburg's palace I showed you here.
In this case, the statues were not just taken from one building, but came from various sources: some from churches, others from the residential buildings of rich and important towns people, and one from a fountain. Some of them have been replaced at their original locations with replicas, while others are from buildings that do not exist any more.
These first three pictures are of a group of Gothic statues taken from a chapel. They represent the scene in the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus retreated for prayer the night before his arrest. He asked his disciples to stay awake with him, but one by one, they fell asleep.
I wonder whether you can identify them; usually, the 12 apostles are represented in art each with their typical attributes.
I am not sure where this broken unicorn once was, but the peasant girl with the fruit was once adorning the top of a Baroque garden wall, if I remember correctly:
The impressively muscular long-haired guy is Neptune. A replica of this original statue stands on top of Neptune Fountain in Offenburg's town centre.
A dark passage leads from the lapidarium to smaller rooms, where examples of the cellar's former purpose can be seen:
Back outside, it was still daylight :-)
A private house was the next stop of our tour. The owners kindly allow guided tours into their cellar every now and then. Some years ago, while some renovation work was going on, a deep well was discovered, plus a tunnel leading out of the cellar to a place below the city wall. Both were examined by a team of archaeologists, and the well is definitely medieval. The secret tunnel is thought to be of more recent times, probably built during WWII. It can not be entered, as it is too dangerous (and parts of it are still filled with rubble from when it caved in at one time), but it is known where it ends, and you can view the first part which is lit up for us to have a look. "Fluchttunnel" (as seen on the sign) means flight tunnel.
We visited another cellar, but I did not take any pictures there. Our last stop was another place dating back several centuries. At one time, it was accessible from a square in the town centre, with no building on top. Then, after WWI, a war memorial was built in the middle of the square, right above the cellar, and gradually, its existence was forgotten. Much later, a tiny kiosk/café was installed on the square, and when public toilets were built underground for convenience, the old cellar was discovered. It is strange to see these old steps end right at the ceiling, knowing that at one time, countless feet went up and down there, carrying goods down to store or up to use them.
Now every time I am in Offenburg's town centre and come past the war memorial, I think of the cellar I know is underneath.
It was an interesting afternoon; I love such glimpses behind the scenes, seeing things you normally can not see in places that are normally not accessible to the public.