• 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
Munich pulls together after shopping mall shooting
Photo: DPA

In the chaos after the Munich mall shooting, city residents spontaneously offered shelter to strangers - a move that Chancellor Angela Merkel said showed that Germany's strength lies in its values.

Merkel deplores 'night of horror' in Munich
Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday said Munich had suffered a "night of horror" after a shooting spree in the southern German city left nine people dead.

Munich shooting
Munich attacker was shy video game fan
People laying flowers at the site of the shootings. Photo: DPA.

David Ali Sonboly was a quiet, helpful teenager who loved playing video games. His neighbours say there were no warning signs before his deadly rampage at a Munich shopping mall.

Munich shooting
Munich gunman inspired by rightwing Breivik: police
Photo: DPA

The lone teenager who shot dead nine people in a gun rampage in Munich was "obsessed" with mass killers such as Norwegian rightwing fanatic Anders Behring Breivik and had no links to the Islamic State group, police said Saturday.

Munich shooting
Turks, Kosovans and a Greek among shooting victims
Photo: DPA

Three Turkish citizens were among the nine people killed in Germany's Munich mall shooting. Three Kosovans were also among the nine victims.

Munich shooting
Munich gunman was likely not Isis terrorist: police
Flowers laid at the Olympia Shopping Centre underground station. Photo: DPA

According to initial investigations by Munich police, the young man who went on a shooting rampage in Munich on Friday evening was a lone gunman without motive, not a terrorist.

Munich shooting
'Lone' Munich shooter kills nine, commits suicide
Photo: DPA

A teenage German-Iranian gunman who killed nine people in a shooting spree at a busy Munich shopping centre and then committed suicide had likely acted alone, German police said Saturday.

As it happened
Nine dead in shooting rampage in Munich
File photo: DPA

Nine people are dead after "at least one person" went on a shooting spree in a Munich shopping centre on Friday evening. An attacker is believed to be among the dead.

German Turkish community split by unrest after coup plot
Pro-Erdogan protesters in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Hatred between supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and those opposed to him has exploded on social media in Germany in the wake of a failed coup attempt last Friday.

Germany stresses defence of Baltics after Trump comments
Photo: DPA

Germany on Friday stressed its promise to protect its NATO allies after White House hopeful Donald Trump called the commitment into question.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Analysis & Opinion
Nice was an attack on France, not on Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
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 Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
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
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
10,808
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd