No matter where I currently live and what my favourite town is (which is definitely Cape Town), Landau was, is, and will be my so-called home town.
Although I have only lived directly in Landau for a couple of years it is at least the closest town to where I come from. It is where I went to school, where I started going out, where I return to when I live abroad. Landau is beautiful. It is a jewel in the south-western part of Germany. It is in the middle of the Südpfälzer winelands. It has a historic centre. It has charm.
It is not only Landau that is beautiful, it’s also the surroundings, the charming wine-villages, the vineyards, the castle ruins all around.. the provincial character. It is located in a corner of Germany where France is just around the corner. They call it the “Toscana of Germany” and apparently the area with the mildest climate in the country.
So, this is where I spent my last holidays – at home. Not just a quick visit – in and out – as I did for the past few years. This time I had the pleasure of spending more than a week there- home. I hired a cute little car (the cabrio version – well, it was supposed to be summer after all), I did the touristy things.
A very good friend of mine (a German girl who I know from Johannesburg) who also happened to be in Germany the same time came by to visit and I showed her my home town. This was quite an eye opener. We walked through the city (in the rain though) and she was seeing things that I have never seen before. My mom gave us a tour through the historic courthouse building where she is working – again, something I have never done before.
So, here is my little guide through Landau.. if you should ever decide to visit this part of the world. Some history first: Wikipedia tells me that “Landau was first mentioned as a settlement in 1106. The city was granted a charter in 1274 by Rudolf I of Habsburg, King of Germany, who declared the city an Imperial Free City in 1291; Landau was later occupied by the French from 1680 to 1815”. Note from me: the French influence is still felt and seen all around the city.
Most popular and most beautiful spot is probably the main square in the middle of the city which serves as a market place twice a week. In summer cute little cafés can be found all around it, you crab an ice cream and just sit there and watch people waking past.
If you walk past the house with the clock on it, which is “das alte Kaufhaus” (the old market hall), you come to another smaller square. Super cute and off the hustle and bustle. This is where I’d love to live if I ever to Landau to live there. There is this nice penthouse which is newly built on top of a much older building. The another turn and you come to the Frank Loebsche Haus. Some historical building which now belongs to the university of Landau. Nothing to write home about from the outside.. but as we walked past the gate was opened and we were able to get a peek inside. As far as I know, it is open daily to visitors, but I just always walked past. It has this old typical German half-timbered style and is quite impressive.
Isn’t is usually the case that you walk through your own town with kind of closed eyes.. If you make an effort and walk through the pedestrian shopping paradise and look above the shop windows, you’ll actually see amazing architecture. A lot of the houses are now being restored to make the city look pretty for some botanical show that’s happening next year. That’s good. especially for the area around the botanical show which had been neglected for way too long. all around the Cornichon Street and Friedrich Ebert Street a new hip area is developing.
Worth mentioning are also all the lovely buildings that were built around the 1900 century break. You can find them all along the ring street as well as in the above mentioned newly renovated area. That’d be second on my wish list if I moved back to Landau.
Another landmark in Landau is the above mentioned courthouse building in which my mom is working and where we got a private tour from her – thank you mom:-)
Enough now of building and architecture.. although I do have a soft spot for it, I admit. .. so next time I’ll just take pictures of buildings and write a separate post about.
My recommendation: don’t leave out Landau just because it won’t be mentioned in any of the bigger tourist guides. If you are in the area, go and visit Landau. It’s a charming little town that has a vibrant student life, lovely architecture, centuries of history and many more things. Discover it yourself and let me know about it afterwards.