• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Building begins of replica medieval town

The Local · 25 Jun 2013, 09:00

Published: 25 Jun 2013 09:00 GMT+02:00

Bert Geuten, 63, has dreamed of building a ninth century monastic settlement - complete with a 2,000-seat cathedral - ever since he saw a model of one as a teenager.

Since that day in 1967, Geuten has been searching for a suitable spot for his construction - and has come up against his fair share of scorn and dismissal along the way.

But now, with the backing of the southern German town of Meßkirch in Baden-Württemberg, Geuten's fantasy is coming true.

On Saturday he witnessed the placement of a large wooden cross in the spot where a church altar will stand, marking a symbolic start to building work expected to take at least four decades to complete.

Geuten said his craftsmen will begin by building a small, central church, just as the monks would have done. “In the ninth century the monks would have built a small church first – they didn't want to wait until the cathedral was ready to be able to pray. So we're doing the same,” he said.

Armed only with medieval tools, 25 skilled workers have now begun readying materials for the church on the eight-hectare site. Stone, clay and wood will be gathered on the spot from the ground and surrounding forest and the materials will be transported by ox carts.

Some of the craftsmen have had to retrain to learn the traditional medieval techniques which are no longer in use in order to work at the site, which has been dubbed Campus Galli.

“It's just unusual to be working only with your hands again and not to constantly have the sound of the machines,” said craftsman 37-year-old Michael Straub as he used a medieval axe to chop trees trunks for the church.

Click for pictures of the merry medieval craftsmen

Right now the site is just a clearing in the woods and a few provisional huts, but the plan is to open up to the public as soon as possible.

Meßkirch's mayor Arne Zwick hopes Campus Galli will eventually prove as popular as a similar project in Guédelon, France, which every year receives 300,000 visitors eager to experience first-hand the authentic construction of a 13th century castle there.

With visitors in mind, nothing will be allowed to ruin medieval atmosphere. Tourists will be served only parsnip soup, sausages or other typical German ninth century fare. No cola, coffee or even chips will be on the menu – potatoes didn't reach Europe until centuries later.

Story continues below…

Just two modern concessions will be allowed: toilets with running water and 21st century hygiene standards for food preparation. “Otherwise the health authority will shut us down,” said Geurten.

With the full town and cathedral set to take between 40 and 50 years to build - and 63-year-old Geurten not getting any younger, he said he doesn't mind that he probably won't live to walk through the finished streets of his village.

“The construction is our aim, not the completion,” he said.

DPA/The Local/jlb

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
'We'll freeze Turkey talks' warns EU as arrests continue
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has launched a radical purge against anyone suspected of complicity in the coup attempt. Photo: DPA

As Turkish authorities on Friday widened their sweeping post-coup crackdown to the business sector, the European Union's enlargement commissioner implicitly warned that the bloc would freeze Turkey's accession talks if the crackdown violated the rule of law.

I’m ashamed of Germany’s refugee failure: Green leader
Cem Özdemir. Photo: DPA

The head of the Green Party has responded angrily to Angela Merkel’s speech on refugees on Friday, saying he feels “ashamed at Germany’s failure".

German satirists mock Erdogan (and his penis)
Photo: DPA

Tempting fate?

Huge pro-Erdogan rally puts strain on Turkish community
Erdogan supporters at a rally in 2014. Photo: DPA

Tens of thousands of supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plan to rally in Cologne on Sunday, as tensions over Turkey's failed coup have put German authorities on edge.

Opinion
How the Berlin startup scene is wasting its potential
Photo: DPA

"The truth is, there really isn't a truly successful international Berlin startup."

Five years' jail for German darknet weapons dealer
Photo: DPA

He had sold weapons to known Isis-sympathizers and far-right extremists.

Prickly Bavarian calls out cops on hedgehogs' noisy sex
Photo: DPA

Caught in the act.

International or German state school - which one's best?
Photo: DPA

Deciding between sending your child to a German state school or a private international school isn't easy. Max Bringmann has experienced both.

13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make

Sure-fire ways to get off on the wrong foot in the German language.

Captain Schweinsteiger retires from international football
Bastian Schweinsteiger. Photo: DPA

He has won a World Cup with Die Mannschaft and captained them at Euro 2016. On Friday Bastian Schweinsteiger announced his retirement from the national team.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
DPA
Gallery
IN PICTURES: How Munich responded to shooting spree
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
10,585
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd