It appears I need a good German car.
Day 141: From Heidelberg, there are a few places I need to visit that not easily accessible. So a car seems to be the answer. (Hey, maybe I could get a BMW.) The trip starts from Heidelberg heading north to Thüngersheim, about 2 hours, to the City Hall (Rathaus) where the native son, Georg Anton Urlaub, has a Judith. A weird Judith. But Judith nonetheless.
North another 2 hours again to Gotha to Friedenstein Castle Museum– the largest Early Baroque castle complex in Germany. From the outside, the castle looks quite plain; however, the interior has beautifully designed rooms and halls which retain their original form and furnishings over the centuries. The Ekhof Theatre is the most outstanding aspect – the oldest castle theatre in the world with original 17th century wooden stage. And somewhere in there is Judith Dining with Holofernes by Lucas Cranach the Elder along with another Hans Baldung Grien Judith.
Mon – closed; Tues-Sun: 10 am – 5 pm (Apr-Oct), 10 am – 4 pm (Nov-Mar)
Turning west, less than 2 hours from the castle, my destination is Kassel. Home of the Brothers Grimm and center of the Deutsche Märchenstrasse (German Fairytale Road). But I will look for the Mercure Hotel Kassel before I start on the fairy tales.
Day 142: The current Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel has had several names: State Art Collections Kassel (1924), State Museums of Kassel (1945), National Museums of Kassel (1992) and now MHK (2006). It is actually in the Wilhelmshöhe Schloss which is in the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe (Mountainpark). The park also contains the Herkules statue at its top end, the Cascades below it, the fake waterfall and the fake Roman Aqueduct moving downslope. Within the castle is the Old Masters gallery which contains a Lucas Cranach the Elder version of Judith. And one of the largest collection of works by Rembrandt.
Mon – closed; Tues-Sun: 10 am – 5 pm; Thurs: 10 am – 8 pm
Day 143: I still need that car to get to Cologne in 2 and 1/2 hours. Cologne is a major cultural center of the Rhineland with more than 30 museums and hundreds of galleries. My primary destination is the Wallraf-Richartz Museum with a fine art collection that covers medieval to early 20th century artists. Including two paintings of Judith by Mattia Preti. The collection also includes Hieronymous Bosch – whose name I just love to say.
Mon – closed; Tues-Sun: 10 am – 6 pm; Thurs: 10 am – 9 pm
Conveniently located around the next block from the museum and the train is Excelsior Hotel Ernst. Which also is next to the Kölner Dom. 509 stairs to the top of the south tower takes about an hour – if you make it. From the back of the cathedral along a straight path, there is a bridge on the Rhine covered in padlocks – placed there by couples to show their loyalty to each other. Nothing says love like a padlock.
Day 144: I have to add a day to solve a mystery. Because a Judith by Lucas Cranach may or may not be in the vicinity. The story is: Dr. Gustav Rau collected art worth $600 million dollars – and then generously loaned it to children’s charities to raise money. There was a scuffle with the Swiss government regarding who had ownership of the art – as well as ownership of Rau’s right mind – but at Rau’s death, he donated the collection to Unicef. Within the collection was a Judith by Cranach, and it is unclear whether she is in (a) a traveling exhibit at the Musee du Luxembourg in Paris, (b) the hands of a private collector, or (c) the Arp Museum outside Cologne. It is worth the 40 minute journey to the museum near Remagen, just to see the architecture of the Rolandseck train station (1856) connected via a tunnel to the Arp Museum by Richard Meier (opened 2007) situated above it. And to search for Judith.
Day 145: There is a direct train from Cologne to Hanover, so I can be there in 2 hours and 40 minutes. (And since I am in Germany, I expect the time will be precise.) I have a special place in my heart for Hanover, since it was the namesake of my alma mater (pictured left). The goal: Niedersächsisches Landesmuseum Hannover (National Gallery of Lower Saxony). And a Judith by (surprise!) Piazzetti, not Cranach.
Mon – closed; Tues-Sun: 10 am – 5 pm; Thurs: 10 am – 7 pm
I should also walk by the Leibnizhaus building to see the stone relief of Judith.
To take advantage of the area outside the city, a half hour west of Hannover is Hotel Ambiente, which will provide a lovely setting to start the next day at …
Day 146: Schloss Buckeburg – the residence of the Princes of Schaumburg-Lippe, who still live there today. But graciously allow tourists to tramp about for a fee. I heard they are harboring a Carlo Maratta version of Judith. However in truth, it is too lovely to stay indoors. After touring the fairytale interior, I shall stroll down to the Academy of Baroque Riding to observe a horse-show of professional Baroque-style riders. And take in some fresh air.
(Apr-Sept) 9:30 am – 6 pm, tours constantly; (Oct-Mar) 9:30 am – 5 pm, tours by appointment
Day 147: Next morning, I return to Hannover and can be in Hamburg in about 2 hours total. Literally steps from the train is the Kunsthalle, where I can be searching for the painting of Judith by Franz von Rohden. As well as wandering by an abundant collection of impressionists.
Mon – closed; Tues-Sun: 10 am – 6 pm; Thurs: 10 am – 9 pm
I hate to cut Hamburg short, but I can be back on the train in minutes to travel one hour and 45 minutes to Berlin – and one subway stop for dinner and points at the Berlin Marriott Hotel.
Day 148: Berlin is my Big City in Germany, with the goal to see two paintings of Judith at the Gemaldegalerie within the National Museum (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin). The first by Ghirlandaio is definitely there, the second by del Piombo may be there. Sometimes you just have to see for yourself. The gallery itself is a reunification of the various collections belonging to the National Museums in Berlin a year after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, and it is IMMENSE. A complete tour of the 72 rooms and one thousand masterpieces covers over a mile of van Eyck, Bruegel, Dürer, Raphael, Tizian, Caravaggio, Rubens, Vermeer and Rembrandt. The octagonal Rembrandt room is the heart of the museum, with sixteen works that form one of the largest and highest quality collections of his paintings
Assuming I could get out of this museum in one day, to even think about another of the 70 museums in Berlin is ridiculous. Berlin is ridiculous in it’s cornucopia of of culture. What to do? Take the S Bahn to the Zoo – even if it does not have a Judith. But it did have a Knut.
(Apr-mid Sept) 9am – 7.30pm; (mid Sept-Oct) 9am – 7pm; (Nov-Mar) 9am – 5pm
Then take the famous Bus 100, which leaves from the Zoo Station for Alexanderplatz – crossing most of historic Berlin landmarks. Then take the S Bahn or Bus 200 back to the hotel.
Day 149: Today is just an extra day. For washing socks, painting my nails and returning emails. And a visit to the recently reopened Neues Museum which houses some of the treasures unearthed at Troy and the Egyptian collection – including the famed bust of Nefertiti. This is the only museum that requires a timed entry ticket so I need to get a timed ticket online ahead of time.
Sun-Wed: 10 am – 6 pm; Thurs: 10 am – 8 pm
Day 150: Into the woods for a day trip. Bus 115 (Clayallee) to the corner of Königin Luise Strasse, and a 15 minute walk will bring me to one of the 32 historical Prussian palaces, residence and parks which belonged to the Hohenzollern dynasty – Jagdschloss Grunewald (Grunewald Hunting Palace). Dedicated to hunting, the palace also houses portraits of the royal family by Lucas Cranach. And one of them looks like Judith.
(Apr-July, Oct) Mon – closed; Tues-Sun: 10 am – 6 pm; (Aug-Sept) closed;
(Nov-Mar) Mon-Fri – closed; Sat-Sun, hoildays: 10 am – 6 pm (tours at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm)
One of the main attractions is also the Hunting Storehouse, with an exhibition about the different royal hunt traditions. It was here in 1828 that Prince Carl of Prussia reintroduced the Parforcejagd – from the French “par force de chiens” (forced by dogs, aka coursing) – in which the prey was first rounded up using enclosures and then killed by the hunters. What sport. I might skip that part in favor of the painting about Holofernes’ decapitation.
Day 151: Last day in Germany is a trip to the country. A train trip of 1 hour 40 minutes will get me to Cottbus – the closest station to Branitz Castle Park. It is not really the castle but the grounds that are the attraction. An artistic garden of international importance, the park is landscaped with differentiated park ranges according to the zoning principle: internal park of market gardens, exterior park as an ornamental farm. Most unusual is the reed-sea section with a “land pyramid.” Actually, I am here to have a look at a statue of Judith atop the Cavalierhaus. Imagine: Judith holding Holofernes’ head over a restaurant – how appetizing!
In order to take the next train, I will need to spend the night. So the Radisson Blu Hotel seems like a convenient and comfortable choice for my last night in Germany.