• 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
Spectator killed in Nürburgring crash
A section of the Nürburgring's north circuit

Spectator killed in Nürburgring crash

A man has been killed and several others injured in an accident at Germany's Nürburgring racetrack. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Germany to hold April service for crash victims
Photo: DPA

Germany to hold April service for crash victims

Germany will hold a national memorial ceremony and service on April 17 for victims of the Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 aboard, regional authorities said on Saturday. READ  

Scientists aiming to redefine the kilogram
The world's roundest sphere. Photo: DPA

Scientists aiming to redefine the kilogram

The German Nation Metrology Institute (PTB) in Braunschweig has set itself the enormous task of finding a new formula for measuring a kilogram. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Germanwings co-pilot 'hid illness' on crash day
Photo: DPA

Germanwings co-pilot 'hid illness' on crash day

Germanwings said on Friday that it had no knowledge of a doctor-signed sick note found by investigators at flight 4U9525 co-pilot Andreas Lubitz's flat. READ  

Varoufakis quells rumours of resignation
Yanis Varoufakis. Photo: DPA

Varoufakis quells rumours of resignation

Update: After German tabloid Bild reported that Germany's least-favourite Greek minister Yanis Varoufakis was considering resigning, the minister rejected the story on Twitter. READ  

Germany to expand disability rights
Photo: DPA

Germany to expand disability rights

A representative of the German Labour Ministry went before a UN Committee on Friday to discuss the government's plan for improved rights for disabled people. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Germanwings captain's compassion goes viral
Photo: DPA

Germanwings captain's compassion goes viral

A Facebook post describing how a Germanwings pilot personally reassured his passengers of their safety on a flight on Wednesday has received over quarter of a million likes. READ  

Bundestag passes 'foreigner toll' for roads
Photo: DPA

Bundestag passes 'foreigner toll' for roads

The Bundestag (German parliament) passed a hugely controversial law on Friday which will charge foreigners for the use of German roads. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Airlines agree two-person cockpit rule
Photo: DPA

Airlines agree two-person cockpit rule

The Federation of the German Air Travel Industry (BDL) confirmed on Friday afternoon that from now on two people must be in the cockpit at all times, in a bid to avoid a repeat of the Germanwings disaster. READ  

Germany urgently needs immigrants: study
Spanish immigrants in Germany. Photo: DPA

Germany urgently needs immigrants: study

A study by the Bertelsmann Institute found on Friday that Germany will need around half a million new immigrants every year until 2050 to maintain its work force. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Germany
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
All you ever needed to know about Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
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

7,184
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd