Freiburg was founded in 1120 as a free market town. Its name would generally be translated as “a fortified town of free citizens”. The town was strategically located at a junction of trade routes between the Mediterranean Sea and the North Sea regions, and the Rhine and Danube rivers.
At the center of the old city is the Münsterplatz or Cathedral Square, Freiburg’s largest square. A farmers market is held here every day except Sundays. This is the site of Freiburg’s Münster, a gothic minster cathedral constructed of red sandstone, built between 1200 and 1530 and noted for its towering spire.
The city has an unusual system of gutters (called Freiburg Bächle) that run throughout its center. These Bächle, once used to provide water to fight fires and feed livestock, are constantly flowing with water diverted from the Dreisam River. They were never intended to be used for sewage, and even in the Middle Ages such use could lead to harsh penalties. During the summer, the running water provides natural cooling of the air, and offers a pleasant gurgling sound. It is said that if one accidentally falls or steps into a Bächle, they will marry a Freiburger.
The Martinstor (English Martin’s Gate), a former town fortification on Kaiser-Joseph-Strasse, is the older of the two gates of Freiburg that have been preserved since medieval times. Both gates, the Martinstor and the Schwabentor, are located in the city center. In medieval times the Martinstor was also known as Norsinger Tor. The wooden beams in the structure have been dated to 1202.
All of the sidewalks in the old city are built with small, oblong shaped stones. In front of many of the shops you will find a mosaic using various contrasting colors of these stones that form an image that would indicate the type of business at this location. There might be a boot for a shoe store, a foamy beer for a bar, a diamond for a jewelry store, etc.
Freiburg has a very nice food hall called MarktHalle which has some fresh produce as well as extensive food stalls with a wide variety of cuisine. There is seafood, Brazilian food, Indian food, fresh salads as well as the usual, pizza and sandwiches. There are a couple of bars and lots of tables. Make your selection, get a beverage and find a table to enjoy.
Next stop: Heidelberg, Germany