The three of us liked the town so much, we agreed on wanting to see what it looked like in the summer. And so on the 20th of August of this year, we were back to Bad Wimpfen.
(The name does not mean that this is a "bad" town - in German, the prefix "Bad" in front of a place name means that it is a spa town.)
Compare these pictures with the one from last December, if you like.
Coming up the road from the parking lot down in the valley (the historic town center is largely car-free):
The "Blue Tower" is Bad Wimpfen's most famous landmark. While exploring the narrow streets and alleyways, you will often catch a glimpse of it from different angles. It was built around the year 1200 as the keep of the Staufen Imperial Palace. Until well into the nineteenth century, it was used as a watchtower. A tower warden still lives at the top today.
I am telling you all this because I happened to watch a program on TV last night about towers in Baden-Wuerttemberg (my part of Germany), and the Blue Tower featured prominently. The documentary showed the worrying structural problems of the tower. The top bit was added much, much later, and is way too heavy for the tower's walls. It has been sagging under that weight for many years, forming cracks in the old walls and starting to lean slightly towards one side.
The scaffolding around it is partly for the people who have been analyzing the walls for months now (using state-of-the art equipment such as laser and x-ray), but more importantly, it is providing the tower with a corset of steel and wooden beams to prevent further sagging and crumbling. I don't know if I'd feel safe living in the upstairs flat - I'd probably listen to every creak and groan of the old beams at night and would never sleep!
Anyway, there is hope for the tower, but the work will take years to complete, and cost a LOT of money. Wimpfeners love their landmark tower, though, and are determined to come up with the money somehow. Therefore, maybe in a few years, my friends and I will come back and see the Blue Tower in all its glory, without any scaffolding!
The Blue Tower is not the only one in this beautiful town. There are church spires and bell towers of various shapes and sizes as well:
Walking right to the top of the hill, you come across the oldest part of the Imperial Palace still standing - the arcades. They were originally part of the palace's Great Hall. We're talking 1200s here again.
The view from there (or from any other point along the old walls) is spectacular, even on an overcast summer's day as this one was. The river you see here is the Neckar, the same one that flows through my hometown at the bottom of the valley.
When it was almost time to go home, we decided to take a little detour and have a closer look at this church in the valley. We even went inside, but it was so dark that none of my pictures turned out good enough to be shown here. I like the two towers - identical bases, but different roofs.
Parts of the building are from the 10th century, about 200 years older than the Staufen arcades up on the hill.
We met this cat, who was completely unfazed by our attention - he is used to it. An elderly gentleman sitting on a bench next door told us that his name is Nelson and he is "the town cat".
It was a great day out with my friends, and I have many more pictures - just didn't want this post to become too long and have therefore broken it up a bit.