The prolific and inspiring blogger CCETSI asked me in the comments about the Swiss museum we went to that had the section on the Black Death. I had to have a look through my pictures to remind myself which town it was in, and I was instantly carried back in time. It was such a wonderful day.
Rheinfelden is a small city in northern Switzerland. As you have probably already guessed, it's along the River Rhine, and it's a wonderful medieval city-- just stunning! We had only been in Switzerland for two months before visiting, so we were still fresh enough off the boat that we walked around gaping at the lovely details. The children were so tiny then!
One of the things I love about old cities is the architecture. I've always been fascinated by buildings and the shape and feel of a place. Whenever I see old churches and tiny alleyways, I have to walk through them. I just can't help myself. This day was no exception because there was a lot to explore.
The main street of the city looks very much like other Swiss towns-- colorful, clean, historic, and lovely. It has definitely kept its medieval feel. You can see my crew strolling along ahead of me, taking it all in.
Besides being known for its beer, Rheinfelden has an amazing church-- St. Martin's. You really wouldn't guess from the outside, but as you walk inside, you can't help but gasp. It is an absolute masterpiece.
We also found an amusing and charming clock tower:
This one has tailor sitting above and a goat that passes along the wall at certain times of the day. According to a lovely woman we befriended on the train, the story goes that a very long time ago the city was besieged, perhaps by the Spanish. The walls were so heavily fortified that they couldn't get through, so they decided to wait and starve the inhabitants out.
Quite a few months passed this way, until not only were the inhabitants in the city starving, but so were the troops laying siege. Rather than surrender, the inhabitants of Rheinfelden came up with a plan. A tailor sewed up the skins and head of a goat into a costume of sorts, and then this "goat" walked at leisurely pace along the city wall, as if it didn't have a care in the world.
The troops laying siege assumed that if a goat was walking leisurely along, then the city must still be flourishing. The starving troops abandoned their plan, and the inhabitants of the city were safe.
If you would like to see the goat, I found a video online. The picture quality isn't very good, but you you can get the general idea.
We also spent quite a bit of time in the Fricktaler Museum. There were some lovely items from many different time periods. Since I know others are studying the medieval era right now, here are a few from that time period.
A stunning example of an illuminated manuscript:
The following pictures are two of my favorites from that day. One is a mermaid fountain I walked into by accident. It was hiding behind a building across the bridge that crosses the Rhine. So it's actually in Germany.
The craftsmanship is exquisite. I'm not quite sure what's going on here, but I love that it makes me wonder.
This one just touches me. I love the historic feel to it... even the old man. It's like stepping back in time. The motorcycles and the signage give it an absurd quality. That's Switzerland in a nutshell. Time changes and stands still all in the same moment.