Friday, May 28, 2004

I am now in Marburg, Germany, an hour north of Frankfurt by train. Marburg's original claim to fame was the Church of St. Elizabeth, the first, or according to some sources second, purely Gothic Church built in Germany. Dating from the 12th century, it was built around the grave of St. Elizabeth, a Hungarian princess who devoted herself to serving poor people after her husband, Ludwig IV, died. She herself died at the age of 24. Instrumental in her canonization was the notorious Conrad of Marburg. See more about St. Elizabeth.

The Church of St. Elizabeth

Later the Teutonic Knights took it upon themselves to protect the Church of St. Elizabeth, which had turned into one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Europe. The Teutonic Knights headquartered themselves in the Landsgrafenschloss, an imposing pile which looms above the town.

The Landsgrafenschloss

Later Marburg became the site of the first Protestant university, and it remains a university town to this day, boasting of over 15,000 students in what is essentially a small town. Numerous luminaries taught, studied, or hung out here, including Alfred Wegener, who you will remember developed the theory of continental drift, the immensely overrated existentialist philosopher Martin (Being and Time, etc.) Heidegger, and the Brothers Grimm. Great Wi-Fi for free in the my hotel . . . even better than the Best Western in the beloved Alleghenies . . .