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Büdingen Castle: Family photos beside medieval murals

Buedingen Castle Exterior
A real eye-catcher sits on the outskirts of Büdingen. We saw the beautiful castle when we arrived and countless more times while we wandered the cobblestone streets. We definitely had to explore the enchanted seeming estate.

Who Calls This Castle Home?
The castle was first mentioned in 1219, when it was owned by the “Büdingen” family. Twenty-eight years later, the male lineage of the family had all passed and the sons-in-law of four different houses (Breuberg, Hohenlohe, Kempenich & Trimberg) took over. Today it is owned and operated by the Ysenburg family and their patriarch with the wonderful name of Wolfgang-Ernst Ferdinand Heinrich Franz Karl Georg Wilhelm Prinz zu Ysenburg und Büdingen in Wächstersbach. I don’t think that this name will fit on any standardized application form. A bit shorter, but also pretty is the name of his wife, Leonille, Prinzessin zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg.

Folklore
At the entrance to the castle you will find two guards made out of sandstone. The legend says that the two switch places at midnight, but can only be seen by people who have never lied in their life.

Also, this is one of the settings for the Büdingen Frog Folk Tale. Did you miss it? Here it is.

Buedingen Castle Courtyard with Tall Tree
Büdingen Castle Inner Courtyard

Standing inside the forecourt, we admire the big tree in the middle, wondering what all it's seen, and all the windows and doors surrounding it, some of them with very crooked frames. These rooms were occupied by servants many years ago, but have been converted to hotel rooms. If you ever wanted to sleep in a medieval castle, here is your chance.

Different views of the charming, medieval Buedingen Castle Courtyard

Büdingen Castle Tour
Our tour guide takes us through a tunnel and a big gate, into another court, the heart of the castle. This is where we enter the Palace room with wonderful murals from the middle ages all over the ceiling, painted around 1546. The murals were eventually covered with white wall paint when the owners of the castle had converted to the Calvinism beliefs, where the display of wealth was frowned upon. In the 1940s the murals were rediscovered, and luckily the white wall paint preserved them perfectly and the murals could be restored to their former glory.

Next, our guide announces that we will be entering the residential part of the castle, where the family still lives. We enter a living room with even more paintings on the ceiling and precious furniture all over the room. The large dining room table is set up and looks very inviting. I would love to sit here and dine. Our guide tells us that the family is usually here on weekends or holidays, but that they value their privacy. We notice more modern family photos sitting on end tables.

Buedingen Castle Tour Interior Photos

Büdingen Castle Chapel
We walk through the alchemist kitchen where they experimented with cures for diseases and reach the late gothic chapel inside the castle.

I am fascinated by the choir stalls cut from oak by Peter Schantz and Michel Silge. Together, it took them two years to complete the choir stalls, and they completed them in 1497. Our guide invites us to sit down to get a better feel for this room.

Buedingen Castle Chapel Wooden Choir Stalls
The carvings in the wood show angels, animals and middle-age weapons and we are told that the two carvers took almost two years to finish this stunning choir. Looking around the room, you realize that all the furniture was made to fit the space. There is an abundance of long, straight walls. The room feels crooked, which forces me to lean back in order to take it all in. Looking up, we see a number of original wedding flags, and the chapel is still currently being used for weddings and christenings. At the cornices are coats of arms of the Ysenburg and Nassau families.

Buedingen Castle Chapel Wedding Flags Hang in the Arched Ceiling

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Photo Essay: Take a Walk With Us In Buedingen, Germany

Take a Walk With Us In Buedingen! | Photo Essay of What We Saw While We Strolled

Park that car!
You need to get out and walk the town while visiting Buedingen. Besides the practicality, this is the best way to see all the half-timbered beauties throughout this town. There's several street-side cafes to plop down for a moment for a beer or coffee if you need to!

Discover the Half-timbered Houses in Buedingen, Germany

Don't forget to look up!
I was surprised to see roof ornaments were trendy in Buedingen. Here was a cat roof ornament that at first glance you may think is a real one.

Look up in Buedingen! Adorable roof ornaments seem to be trendy there. This is a cat roof ornament.

This one a scene of cops is playing out, where it looks like a daring clown is being chased:Look up in Buedingen! Adorable roof ornaments seem to be trendy there. Here is an officer and clown ornament.

And here's a knight or cowboy on top of a horse on this roof:

Look up in Buedingen! Adorable roof ornaments seem to be trendy there. Here's a gallant horse roof ornament!

Buedingen's Market Square
In the center of the half-timbered Market Square, where the Old Town and New Town come together there's a well with a Lion Statue and crests. Right around the Market Square is the 50's Museum that we loved and recommended earlier.

In the center of the half-timbered Market Square, where the Old Town and New Town snuggle together in a, there's a well with a Lion Statue and crests.

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The Frog Folk Tale of Büdingen: Why there are frog sculptures throughout Büdingen

When I originally read the English-translated Frog Folk Tale, my imagination went wild. I couldn't resist rewriting Büdingen's funny folk tale as first-person narrative from its various subjects. I hope you enjoy my retelling. Every time you see a frog represented in Büdingen, either through public art or pictures, you'll know why.

The Frog Folk Tale of Büdingen | Why there are frog sculptures throughout Buedingen

Countess Elizabeth of Wied

"Wake up!" I elbow my new husband, Count Anton of Ysenburg and Büdingen, fancy-pants himself, hard in the ribs. "Wake up!"

He jerks awake, thrashing and kicking. "What!? What is it?! I didn't do it!?" His eyes dart anxiously around the room.

I cross my arms in front of my chest and sit up. "Do what? What didn't you do?"

Anton eyes me skeptically, pauses, and turns the question, "Why'd you wake me up!?"

Exasperated, "Isn't it obvious?!"

His mouth gapes open, a stupefied look dawns on his face as he looks around the room. Carefully, "Can you give me a hint?"

I gesture wildly at the window, "WHAT is that horrible sound! It's terrible! It has to stop!"

He looks around, and an inkling of knowing starts to dawn on his face, and he starts grinning from ear to ear. "Oh! Do you mean the frogs!? My love those are the frogs in the moat. They're quite a good security system actually, if they smell danger, they stop croaking." He says with a laugh and rolls away to his other side. "Just close your eyes, my lovely Elizabeth and think of it as the lullaby of Büdingen."

Humph. Lullaby. Who on earth is he kidding. To make matters worse, my frog-loving-husband is snoring out of sync with his slimy orchestra outside. Are the frogs getting louder? My ears start ringing, and my head is pounding. Am I to suffer this every night for the rest of my life?! NO! NO WAY!

I grab the pillow out from under my husband's head, yank the blanket off him, and jump out of bed. "Where are you going?!" He cried. With shaking hands I light the candle and walk to his side of the bed.

"You, my lord, are going to get rid of those confounded frogs, or this marriage is over before its started!"

"OK! OK! I'll meet with my town council in the morning and we'll find out how to relocate the frogs. Can I have my pillow back, please? Dearest?"

"NO! TONIGHT! You must get rid of those frogs tonight or tomorrow I'm taking my leave of this horrible frog palace and going back home. Then you'll have to deal with the consequences. Who do you want to spend the rest of your life with, ME, or your FROGS!?!"

His face was slowly turning red, and I wonder for a second if he's going to strike me. He resolutely puts on his robe, calmly lights his candle on his side of the bed and opens the bedroom door.

Seething with anger, I need a sharp object. I tie my own robe tightly across my chest and light another candle and settle into a chair in the corner of the room, by the window. I take out my current embroidery project and needle and start stabbing out stitches. The ringing in my ears subsides as the emergency bells start ringing outside the town. I smile to myself. I guess he does love me.

~

Count Anton of Ysenburg & Büdingen

"Yes, my lord? You rang." My valet looks at me searchingly, gauging what ails me, and not finding anything visible. I sigh heavily.

"Sir, please. I need your help, my new marriage depends on it. Countess Elizabeth of Wied is demanding we find a way to either remove the frogs in the moat, or find a way to make them stop croaking."

I look away from my valet's gaping mouth, surprised face. This... is humiliating.

"Remove the frogs in the moat, my lord?” I denote denial in his tone.

"Yes. Tonight. It has to be tonight." I manage between hands covering my face, hiding a yawn and my humiliation.

Wringing his hands. "Of course, tonight. We'll remove all of the frogs in the moat tonight. Consider it done, my lord. Good night." He bowed out, and turned with a flourish. I slowly walk into my study, and sit down. Stretch. Yawn. I drift into sleep as the emergency bells ring out across the town.

~

Bailiff, Council of the Court

"CITIZENS OF BÜDINGEN! YOUR COUNT REQUIRES YOUR SERVICE TONIGHT IN PRESERVING THE PEACE BETWEEN BÜDINGEN AND WIED, IN HONOR OF HIS NEW MARRIAGE."

The assembled group of citizens were a comical scene. In varying stages of undress, yet wielding cross-bows and sharp pitchforks, others with buckets of water. All bleary-eyed with sleep.

With as much seriousness as though the city was under attack, I puff up my chest and throw my shoulders back. "BRING YOUR BUCKETS, AND NETS, PUT ON YOUR BOOTS. MEET IMMEDIATELY AT THE MOAT. TONIGHT....” I pause, and force my face to resolute seriousness, “WE MUST CATCH EVERY-LAST-FROG!!!!!"

A few citizens stared at him blankly. A few dared to laugh. Others shook their heads in disbelief.

~

Town Council Members

Sopping wet and weary, the citizens of Büdingen toted in countelss buckets brimming with frogs. The croaking was deafening. A few delirious citizens were dozing off face first in their buckets, the source of the croaks and all.

"What are we going to do now?!" The racket is horrible!"

"Well, can the archers dispose of the frogs?"

"What?! NO! What a waste of arrows! Absolutely not!"

"Ok, fine. How about a fire. We can start a big bonfire and toss the buckets in."

"FOOL! They're all wet. We're all wet! We'll never get a fire going."

"Butchers?!"

"No, their guild will not allow it. They won't touch frogs. It's beneath them." He answered with a roll of the eye.

Beneath them. Humph. This whole frog-debacle is beneath us.

"Sir! The river! We can dump the frogs in the river and then Düdelsheim can deal with them!"

~

Valet

"Good morning my lord! We've solved the frog problem!" I can’t help myself, I throw my hands on my hips in pride. My blood-shot red eyes are a twinkling, probably a bit maniacally.

"Good morning! Wait... what frog problem? Oh. OH! Yes of course. Wonderful! Wonderful!" The Count thumps my back, congratulatory.

"Your loyal citizens of Büdingen worked tirelessly through the night and collected all of the frogs from the moat and now this afternoon we'll take them to the Mühltor Bridge and dump them into the river. They'll be croaking in Düdelsheim by nightfall." I’ll be telling my grandkids about this day, years from now.

"Genius! Brilliant! Of course! MY wonderful citizens. I'll tell the Countess, and we'll meet the citizens at the bridge for the frog...send off?"

~

Countess Elizabeth of Wied

He starts laughing, and leans back and crosses his arms. He's so proud of himself he's nearly busting his buttons. "My dear wife, the loyal citizens of Büdingen have solved your, I mean, OUR frog problem. They'd love to see your beautiful face at the Mühltor Bridge in a few hours to give a proper send-off to the Büdingen frogs,” he pauses, “Or should I say, the Düdelsheim frogs!" At this he starts cracking up in a most undignified manner. He's a funny man. Maybe this will be a good marriage after all. I smile at him, and kiss him appreciatively on the cheek.

~

Froggily Ever After

That beautiful afternoon, the citizens of Büdingen turned out in droves to see the Count and Countess, and of course to dump buckets of frog into the river. The kids will never forget the sight. The marriage of the Count and Countess was saved, and the citizens were forever nicknamed "The Fräääsch" the frogs, in pride for their clever frog solution.

Vintage Büdingen am Mühltor Postcard

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Jerusalem Gate: Photos, History, and Tales of Buedingen's Sandstone Landmark

The Jerusalem Gate, built in 1503, in Büdingen, Germany

Our favorite landmark in Büdingen was the Jerusalem Gate at the edge of the old city. It was the west entrance gate to the old city, flanked by a tower on each side. The walls on each tower are 4 to 5 feet thick, depending on which wall part of the tower you measure. The whole construction is made out of red sandstone, found in the regions around Büdingen. Below the tracery on the top part of the towers are gargoyles in form of lion heads, and on the bridge in the middle is the combined coat of arms of Count Ludwig II of Ysenburg and his wife Maria of Nassau.

Closeup of the tracery on Buedingen's Jerusalem Gate, showing the lion-head gargoyles and the coat of arms

View of the medieval town wall and moat in Buedingen

Before the Jerusalem Gate was built, Büdingen had a town wall with several defensive towers and two entrance gates. With a growing population, advancing usage of artillery weapons, combined with the discovery of gunpowder, Count Ludwig II of Ysenburg decided in 1476 to make the town walls thicker and to dig out a moat all around the town. The grand finale of the construction effort was the Jerusalem Gate, finished in 1503. Today the moat is empty, instead it has walking paths for exploring the town wall.

View of the medieval town wall in Büdingen, Germany

Theories on Why the Gate is Named 'Jerusalem Gate'
Historic documents show that the name of this gate derived from the Count's son, who completed a pilgrimage of Jerusalem, Israel, and is a copy of the Lions' Gate. However, if you look at both gates, there are almost no commonalities between them. While the historical documents prove that the son of the Count went on the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, a different theory may be closer to reality. Büdingen was an early adopter of the Protestant religion and many religious refugees sought shelter in the city. It is believed that when the refugees arrived at the city gate, they knelt down in front of it to pray and exclaimed, “This is our Jerusalem."

Inside the gate you will find the Sandrosen (desert rose) Museum, where you will find rose-like formations of the sandstone excavated in the regions surrounding Büdingen. Unfortunately, this museum was closed during our visit and still has very limited opening hours. If you are interested in seeing this museum, please check their current hours here.

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View of the medieval town wall in Büdingen, Germany

View of the medieval town wall in Büdingen, Germany

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A Visit of Buedingen's Museum of the 50's

Museum of the 50's in Buedingen, Germany | Prepare to hear, "When I was a kid..."

One of my personal highlights during our visit to Büdingen was a museum dedicated to the 1950’s, the 50er-Jahre-Museum, curated by Else & Walter Arbeiter. It is a smaller museum in the rooms of a former bakery, but holds many things I have seen in my grandparents home or in old pictures of our family. All the better that Denise and I visited with my Oma, Opa, and my parents, as they all had several stories to tell as we toured.

The 1950’s was a decade of change for Germany. The Germans had lost WWII, started rebuilding the bombed cities, and were introduced to rock & roll music by the American GI’s that were now stationed throughout southeast Germany. Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Nat King Cole not only influenced listeners in the United States, but also listeners overseas when they turned their radio to the American Forces Network channel.

Collecting and Sharing History
The museum opened in 1999, but the passion for collecting items from the 50’s started when Walter Arbeiter visited a flea market in the 1970’s and found a model train set in original packaging, similar to the one his parents bought for him in his childhood. He continued his search for items from that era, ranging from books to household items, filling up a display cabinet... then filling the whole room... and finally the whole apartment. According to Arbeiter only 10% of his collection is in this museum, they are simply running out of space.

Museum of the 50's Exhibits
Upon entering the museum you (fittingly) walk into the music room, where you can find a TV set with an integrated vinyl disk player and an original, working jukebox that needs Deutsche Mark currency to play. After paying our entrance fee, we were offered a chance to exchange our Euro currency into Deutsche Mark currency, which was the official currency of Germany from 1948 until 2002 in order to experience making a selection on the jukebox. There was already good rock & roll music coming out of the museum speakers, so we opted to not take them up on their offer.

At the Museum of the 50s, there's a room dedicated to German toys. Büdingen, Germany

At the Museum of the 50s, there's a room dedicated to German toys. Büdingen, Germany

Walking past the cash register, we entered a room dedicated to German toys from the 50’s with many well-preserved board games and model trains. My Mom was flabbergasted to see a doll toy bathroom just like she used to have as a little girl. There was also a recreated Mom and Pop grocery store with items packaged in their 1950 wrappers. These days, it is commonplace for us to walk into a grocery store, find exactly what we were looking for, and purchase the item. Not so after the war when small business corner stores struggled to stock the essentials, and slowly added more and more products as they became available. Each and every inch of the museum is packed with items and appropriately decorated, forcing you to slow down to take it all in.

Stocked grocery shelves in the Museum of the 50's, Büdingen, Germany

Stepping into the next room you will find yourself in the middle of a typical kitchen for that era. I spotted one of the first dishwashers and a humongous fridge made by Bosch, all of them in creamy pastel colors. The next room is a living room, filled to the brim with inviting memorabilia. All in all, it feels like you are walking through someone’s apartment in the 1950’s, while being allowed to look in all the drawers and cabinet doors. Don’t be shy, there are even more items in there and it was a lot of fun!

Milch Bar in the Museum of the 50's, Büdingen, Germany | Oma says hi

Stop by on a summer weekend and the milk bar in the back of the museum is open for business too. Also known as a dairy bar, no alcohol is served here, but you can get your milkshake and ice cream fix. The sign told us that there were over 1,500 milk bars in Germany at one point, but I do not remember ever being in one. Must have been a trend that became extinct before I came around.

German Jazz Legend Paul Kuhn is featured in the Museum of the 50's in Büdingen, Germany

German Jazz Legend, Paul Kuhn
On the wall next to the milk bar I spot a picture of Paul Kuhn, a German jazz musician, entertainer and piano player, of whom I had the pleasure meeting several times before he passed away in 2013. He told me that he found his love for jazz by listening to BBC jazz broadcasts during his youth. Jazz music was hard to come by during the Nazi regime in Germany, since so-called fremdländisch (alien) music had to be eradicated, and prohibited to be played on German radio stations.

After WWII was over, Paul Kuhn was hired by the American Forces Network radio station in Wiesbaden and had chance to listen to records of his idol Glenn Miller and play at American music clubs at night. Although he was only paid in cigarettes and coffee, Paul Kuhn continued playing the piano and even toured while being well over 80 years old and slowly losing his eyesight. You can see one of his TV appearances here:

Seeing a great entertainer honored by the museum made me smile. If you want to go down memory lane to Germany in the 50's, I highly recommend spending an hour or two at the wonderful Museum of the 50’s in Büdingen. For more information visit their website: www.50er-jahre-museum.de

Left to Right, Paul & Ute Kuhn, Sebastian & Denise, having dinner in Florida


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Thank you For Reading! Denise & Sebastian | Photo by Irene Fiedler