• Germany's news in English
 

Building begins of replica medieval town

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.

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
Helmut Kohl 'in intensive care for three weeks'
Photo: DPA.

Helmut Kohl 'in intensive care for three weeks'

Former Chancellor Helmut Kohl has been in intensive care in Heidelberg for three weeks and is in critical condition, media reported on Tuesday. READ  

Opinion
For business' sake, UK should stick with EU
The harbour in Hamburg seen from the air. Photo: DPA

For business' sake, UK should stick with EU

Andreas Meyer-Schwickerath, Managing Director of the British Chamber of Commerce in Germany (BCCG), exposes the stakes and consequences if Britain votes to leave the European Union in 2017 in an interview with The Local. READ  

Majority of Germans support World Cup boycott
Photo: DPA

Majority of Germans support World Cup boycott

The majority of Germans believe that the latest FIFA corruption scandal is so serious that they would support boycotting the 2018 World Cup if FIFA doesn’t clean up its act. READ  

EU reports widespread abuse of migrant workers
Construction workers are among the most exploited, the report found. Photo: DPA

EU reports widespread abuse of migrant workers

A report published on Tuesday documents appalling conditions for migrant workers in the EU. In Germany the construction sector was singled out for blame. READ  

Beck's brewery boss fired over drink driving
Former AB Inbev Germany boss Till Hedrich. Photo: AB Inbev

Beck's brewery boss fired over drink driving

Till Hedrich, head of the German subsidiary of the world's largest beer brewing company, has lost his job just five months in after he caused a traffic accident while under the influence. READ  

'Serious progress' in Berlin Greece debt talks
Mario Draghi, president of the ECB. Photo: DPA

'Serious progress' in Berlin Greece debt talks

There has been "serious progress" in talks over Greece's debt crisis but much still needs to be achieved, the EU's commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs said on Tuesday. READ  

Poo smell in the country is legal: court
Roosters can poo all they want. No ruling yet on how loudly they can crow. Photo: DPA

Poo smell in the country is legal: court

Just when you thought German courts had ruled on every question ever posed by man, you realized they missed one: Is the countryside allowed to stink of dung? And if so, how much? READ  

Two German restaurants make world's top 50
Vendôme chef Joachim Wissler, whose restaurant ranked number 30 worldwide. Photo: DPA.

Two German restaurants make world's top 50

Two leaders in modern German cuisine made it onto a British food organization's annual list of the world's best restaurants, although both slipped in the rankings. READ  

Rights groups critical of Egypt president's visit
Angela Merkel will meet President Sisi on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

Rights groups critical of Egypt president's visit

Five prominent rights groups on Monday urged German Chancellor Angela Merkel to press for an end to human rights abuses in Egypt when she meets President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi this week. READ  

Hamburg avoid drop to maintain unique record
Hamburg are the only Bundesliga team never to have been relegated. Photo: DPA

Hamburg avoid drop to maintain unique record

Hamburg avoided a first relegation from Germany's top flight with a dramatic 2-1 extra-time win at Karlsruhe in Monday's relegation play-off, second-leg, to seal a 3-2 aggregate win. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
The business case for Britain in the EU
Rhineland
Why farmers are free to pong up the countryside
National
German restaurants among world's best
National
Tank versus car is not a game for the faint of heart
National
How many Germans live abroad?
National
Ducks shut down busy motorway
Features
Fassbinder's blaze of glory
Rhineland
Defusing Cologne's giant WW2 bomb
Travel
1,000 years of Leipzig
National
Cops have nothing to go on after ministry toilet theft
Sport
The hidden history of FC Bayern Munich
Technology
In future, we may all be scraping drones off windshields
National
The 65-year-old who gave birth to quadruplets
Travel
Why the train strike is bad for passengers and workers
National
Meet Germany's Eurovision hope
Business & Money
Is 2015 a new moment for jobsharing?
Features
How the LGBT rights movement was born in Germany
National
Why you don't make bomb jokes at the airport
National
Why Germany needs a little less tipple
National
Who Germans and Americans trust... and don't
Politics
What the UK election means for Germany
National
Why Germany is great for mums
Features
The Germans with GI dads
Five ways Germany falls short on gay rights
Travel
Giant tortoise found riding Munich rail
National
FCK CPS? A-OK with court
Politics
Opinion: Brexit's dangers for Germany
Features
Smart kids all want to work for BMW
National
Minister shows off top Denglisch
National
Germany's 'other genocide' in Africa
National
Arms firms get a 'must do better' mark on ethics
Sport
Bayern's anticlimactic 25th Bundesliga win
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,701
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd