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Travel guide for Thuringia, Germany

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Thuringia, Germany
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A visit to Kloster Veßra, Thuringia, Germany
Tourism, Travel Guide


My first visit of this place was on a cold day In January. The air line ticket to Germany was gift from my wife Elizabeth. That was big surprise for me.
>"Kloster" means abbey. In this case the small village in which this abbey was built many years ago carries the name "Kloster Veßra". The abbey is not any longer existing, but you still can see the impressing ruins.
Today the large area is a showcase of various buildings which serve as a museum which tells many interesting details about the history and the life in the past.
Buildings have been moved from other areas to this place to demonstrate the living and working conditions. Special attention has been given to farming and agriculture and the equipment which was used in the different periods.
Check for events. Many of them do not need any knowledge of the German language, such as concerts or special displays of art.

Kloster Veßra, Thuringia, Germany, museum, abbey, tourism, travel guide
The entrance to the former abbey

I arrived on an early winter morning and obviously I was the only visitor at this time. This gave me the opportunity to talk for a longer time to the very friendly employees.

Kloster Veßra, Thuringia, Germany, museum, abbey, tourism, travel guide

As everywhere in the world also this museum would need more funding. I told them that we have similar places in Canada and what they do to attract people, like having guides in costumes of the period and demonstrations of how old tools were used etc.
I also mentioned the helpful work of volunteers and ask them whether there is nobody who would translate the many helpful information at least into English.
They listened but obviously I talked to the wrong people or they were still used that the government tells them every step they are allowed to do as it was done under the former regime.
Thuringia is so rich on history and culture that I enjoyed my visit even at this time of the year. If I would love winter sport I would have had even a better time. But not everybody loves everything.
I was pleased that somebody did excessive snow shoveling which allowed me easy access to all the attractions.
A chapel, called the "Torkirche St. Erhard" dates back to the 13 th century. After the reformation the chapel was converted and differently used. It even became an inn and later a school. Today it is used for concerts and presentations.
Naturally, the organ in the building does not date back to the 13 th century.
I learned very fast that even under the communist system very much important work was done to preserve all the heritage buildings.
It should be recognized that not everything was so bad as we "Wessies" were made to believe. It is time to become honest, to learn from each other and finally start to work together.
The following year I visited Kloster Veßra again, but this time my wife Elizabeth was with me and we had great sunshine. Everything was green and looked much more friendly than in winter.

Kloster Veßra, Thuringia, Germany, museum, abbey, tourism, travel guide
A chapel, called the "Torkirche St. Erhard"

I visited barns which displayed many utensils which were used for farming. Large posters showed scenes when only animals were used and no tractors. Many people can still remember this time.

Kloster Veßra, Thuringia, Germany, museum, abbey, tourism, travel guide
Old time farming equipment are displayed in many places

It was still common practice in many areas of Germany during and immediately after WWII.
Old and young lived together under one roof and everybody including the children had some duties.
Many half timbered houses can be found which are fully furnished in the appropriate style. In one even a wood fired stove was lighted. The complete house was filled with smoke when the fire was started.
In another house a "Kachelofen" (a tiled stove) provided cozy temperatures. I was told that electrical heating elements were used in order not to do any damage to this wonderful antique piece.

Kloster Veßra, Thuringia, Germany, museum, abbey, tourism, travel guide
A kitchen how it was used in the early fifties

Both East and West Germany were flooded after WWII with refuges who escaped the blood shed. It was a big problem to provide accommodation and food for all these people. They were feeling like kings if they had a kitchen like that.

Kloster Veßra, Thuringia, Germany, museum, abbey, tourism, travel guide
I would not mind to sleep in such a bed!


Naturally, there is much, much more to see. Spend some time in the part of the "Hennebergische Museum" which showed which part the "Henneberg's nobles " played in medieval times.
If you are interested in learning more about them, ask at the front desk for information in English. But just seeing all the displays in the museum gives you also a good idea of their importance.
They obviously also made a very good living.
The abbey itself was for a long time a cultural center. However, problems started in the 15 th century and it soon lost its importance and influence.
There are more pictures showing the "Henneberg's"

Kloster Veßra, Thuringia, Germany, museum, abbey, tourism, travel guide
Kloster Veßra, Thuringia, Germany, museum, abbey, tourism, travel guide

Filled with some political background information, I proceeded through the huge property.
I visited more houses and workshops. Certainly, people missed much of the comfort which we are used to have today, but if you love a simple life with wood fired stoves and getting your water from a well and your own supply of food from agriculture, you could enjoy little too.

Kloster Veßra, Thuringia, Germany, museum, abbey, tourism, travel guide

Just look for details in the houses and use your imagination as to what you would do if you lived in the past.
Unfortunately, I found only one interpreter and she was trying to get a fire started in one of the old wood stoves.
It is a good opportunity for the elderly to work as volunteers and to have contact with many people.
They should learn from Canada!
I visited an old mill. The water wheel was covered with ice. It will certainly be an attraction to see it in operation during the summer months. I hope it will be!
An important facility in each community was a brewery. Especially monks are famous for making good beer in Germany.
Don't miss to see how such a brewery looked. However, I doubt that you will get free samples of beer. Maybe the operators of the museum should think about doing so.

Kloster Veßra, Thuringia, Germany, museum, abbey, tourism, travel guide

Unfortunately, the door to the cloister of the abbey was locked. Another attraction - the gardens - were hidden below snow.
For that reason, I spent some more time in a barn seeing machinery which I still remember being used. When we lived in a small village in Franconia such threshing machines were still the standard.

Kloster Veßra, Thuringia, Germany, museum, abbey, tourism, travel guide
A threshing machine

One machine was used by all farmers and it was always an event with lots of good food for everyone who helped. As far as I remember, none of the farmers had any debts because of over spending on equipment.
As usual, I felt a craving for food and a beer after having exercised for so long in the fresh, clean air. As expected, the little coffee shop was closed at this time of the year.
So I said good-bye to the friendly lady at the gate, and enjoyed rouladen with Thuringian dumplings and a beer in the restaurant close to the parking lot.

Kloster Veßra, Thuringia, Germany, museum, abbey, tourism, travel guid
We live also in an old house

On another trip in summer my wife Elizabeth came with me and I did not want to miss another visit to Kloster Veßra. In summer concerts are held on the grounds of the former abbey, but unfortunately not when we visited Thuringia.

Kloster Veßra, Thuringia, Germany, museum, abbey, tourism, travel guide
Open air concerts are held at Kloster Veßra, close to Hildburghausen

Especially lovers of classical music are enjoying them in a relaxed atmosphere. I hope that we will have sometimes chance to go to one of them. Elizabeth decided on the spot that this will be not our last visit to Thuringia.
She was excited that there are so many things to do and to see and that you do not depend too much on the weather. Sightseeing, visiting interesting places, learning something about European history and culture can be combined with hiking and all kind of indoor and outdoor activities. One of our favorites became visiting different spas and spending a whole day there. Also shopping was an exciting experience for my wife. Luckily we had to keep the weight restrictions for our luggage in mind.

Kloster Veßra, Thuringia, Germany, museum, abbey, tourism, travel guide
Elizabeth inspecting a garden

Kloster Veßra, Thuringia, Germany, museum, abbey, tourism, travel guide

Without any doubt - you should visit this former abbey and all the restored houses preferable in summer or fall. You also should reserve enough time for the self guided tour. Please do not plan a visit on a Monday - almost all attractions are closed all over Thuringia.
Ask in a local tourist information about planned events. As far as I know you can listen to music from J. S. Bach and Carl Orff in June. His Carmina Burana is known by music lovers around the world!
Hopefully more value to this tour for foreign visitors will be added by providing all the interesting information in the English language.
Not everybody is as lucky as Elizabeth who had her personal translator and interpreter. I hope the tourist industry of Thuringia starts to listen to the demands of visitors.

Kloster Veßra, Thuringia, Germany, museum, abbey, tourism, travel guide
A visit during summer is much more enjoyable

Kloster Veßra, Thuringia, Germany, museum, abbey, tourism, travel guide

Kloster Veßra, Thuringia, Germany, museum, abbey, tourism, travel guide


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