Jewish Ritual Bath in Friedberg, Hesse

The mikvah or mikveh is a bath used for ritual immersion in Judaism to achieve ritual purity. This one in Friedberg, Hesse, belongs to a small group of remaining monumental mikvahs dating back to the Middle Ages. The others are in Friedberg, Speyer, Cologne, Worms, Offenburg, and Andernach.

With a depth of 25 m, the mikvah in Friedberg is the biggest and most impressive among them all. It is also one of the last monuments of Jewish life in Friedberg. From the 13th century until 1942, the Jewish population lived in and near the Judengasse (between the town and the castle). Their synagogue was burned down on 10 November 1938.

We went to see the mikvah this afternoon. We were the only visitors on this snowy afternoon, so the museum attendant told us.

What an experience this was to be inside this mikvah! While we were talking, we noticed the extraordinary acoustics – any sound resonated for about six seconds within the walls.

The octagonal skylight, which we passed on the way in, was reflected in the waters down below. Then, our sound was reflected in the walls. This was truly amazing.

The last part of the stairway is closed off to the public though. Climbing down 23 regular steps and another 52 steep steps requires a sure foothold and sturdy shoes.

The entrance is euro 2 per adult. Hours of operation: wetterau-museum

This was definitely a cultural and historical highlight.

 

Sledding and Skiing on the Feldberg

Back by popular demand is the answer to Where can we go sledding and skiing around here? In this case, this is from expats in and near Oberursel at the foot of the Taunus Mountains.

The state of Hessen boasts many sledding trails and the most popular ones are the hill in Falkenstein, downhill from Hohemark, Pechberg at Oberreifenberg, and at Sporthotel Erbismühle in Weilrod.

I personally prefer Oberreifenberg, but you should give the others a try too.

Oberreifenberg sledding trail

The Pechberg at Oberreifenberg has been recommended for sledding and skiing and also provides opportunities nearby for cross-country skiing and walking trails. The Pechberg is most suitable for ski beginners among the children and adults. Once you get to Waldstrasse in Oberreifenberg, you can see the little ski resort and the parking lot in Siegfriedstrasse.

There is a ski lift, which is also safe and suited for the little skiers. The sledders have their own trail.

Many families bring a little snow-picnic lunch along (hot juice or tea and sausages). There are also food vendors selling pizza and Bratwurst.

For a detailed snow update at the Pechberg (tar mountain), you can call 06081 – 442 138 for more information.

The Taunusklub lists four more skiing/sledding trails (in German) within the vicinity.

Medieval Ronneburg Castle in Germany

At our annual Christmas party, sponsored by Frankfurt International School (FIS), I ran into Richard Winn, who is one of the English teachers. Not only does he teach English to the upper school students, but he also knows how to capture rare moments on camera.

I had to compliment once more on the stunning photo he had taken at the Ronneburg Castle. This photo made it into the New York Times photo gallery in 2009.

The castle opens its gates to the public for various events throughout the year. On such an occasion, Richard was able to observe and capture the life portrayed from the medieval times.

Ronneburg Castle in Germany

I quote the following from his entry at the New York Times gallery:

Castle Ronneburg, Hesse, Germany, Sep 12, 2009

This woman was dressed up in medieval clothing and working in the kitchen for a festival at the castle. The room was smoky from an open wood-fired stove, creating this otherworldly light. I was in a real –life Flemish painting. Vermeer could have been standing beside me, painting away. I just moved to Germany from Las Vegas, and am still very much in the honeymoon phase of exploring a new country.

You can browse more photos submitted by readers. from nytimes.com/why we travel.

 – Photo published with friendly permission by Richard Winn –