‘Eschenheimer Turm, Frankfurt’
G. J. a Paris
The Eschenheimer Tower is the last surviving gateway from Frankfurt’s medieval fortifications. The 47m tower was constructed in the early 15th century. As can be seen in the stereograph, the street used to run directly under the tower but now it goes around the side. The area was largely destroyed during World War Two but the tower survived and is now the oldest and least-altered medieval structure in Frankfurt’s old city centre. The people and cart in the distance must’ve moved during the photographic exposure as they shuttle from one side of the street to the other.
‘Mont St. Michel’
Ernest le Deley
This stereograph shows a street at Mont St. Michael c.1910 with many of the houses in their unrestored state. The building spanning the street is known as the House of the Artichoke, a late 15th or early 16th century addition to an adjoining property. Both the west and east facades are covered in chestnut tiles giving the appearance of the leaves of an artichoke. There is also a sculpted artichoke on top of the turret finial. The wall to the left is part of the island town’s medieval fortifications. Apart from much restoration the scene remains little changed today.
‘Only Access to the Monastery of St. Barlaam – 250ft by rope – Meteora, Greece’
Underwood & Underwood
For centuries a net or a rickety series of ladders lashed together with rope were the only means of accessing the lofty monasteries at Meteora in Greece. Six monasteries remain today, perched upon pinnacles of sandstone. The fellow in the net is going up to St. Varlaam, the second largest monastery in the Meteora complex. It was built in 1541. The cliff upon which St. Varlaam sits is actually over 373m high. Now a World Heritage Site and a major tourist attraction, the monasteries are a little easier to access. During the 1920s steps were cut into the rock face and the monasteries are accessible via a bridge. Despite some war-time bombing, the monasteries remain as one of Europe’s most unusual sites. The name itself, ‘Meteora’, comes from the Greek for ‘Middle of the Sky’ etymologically related to the word ‘Meteorite’.
The Kaiserstallung (Emperor’s Stables) was located next to Nuremberg’s medieval castle. Despite the name, the Kaiserstallung was built between 1494 and 1495 to serve as a gigantic granary. Part of it was also used to stable the emperor’s horses during imperial visits to the castle, which is how the building acquired its title. One distinctive feature was the five storey attic with windows at each level. The tower at the far end, with little turrets at each corner, was built in 1377 as part of the castle’s defences. The Kaiserstallung was converted into a youth hostel in 1938 but was almost completely destroyed during an air-raid in 1945. The exterior was reconstucted to its pre-war appearance and today the Kaiserstallung is once again used as a youth hostel.
This early stereoview from c.1865 shows the view south across Nuremberg. The Church of St. Sebaldus is in the foreground. Its great barn-like chancel was added between 1358 and 1379. At the end of the the chancel can be seen a long, Renaissance building, part of Nuremberg’s town hall added by Jakob Wolff in the early 17th century. In the distance are the towers of St. Lorenz’s Church. Everything shown was almost entirely destroyed in 1945 but at least the town hall and churches have since been reconstructed.
A great early view over the medieval rooftops of pre-war Nuremberg looking north towards the castle on the horizon. The city was one of the architectural and cultural wonders of Europe, almost entirely unchanged since the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The 15th century twin towers of St Sebaldus Church are on the right. Around 90% of the city centre was destroyed during a major air-raid in January 1945. Although the city’s churches and the castle were reconstructed after the war the vast majority of Nuremberg’s medieval houses disappeared forever.
This stereograph shows the twin steeples of Dresden’s only Gothic church, the Sophienkirche, with the courtyard of the Zwinger in the foreground. The Zwinger was a palace designed by the Dresden architect Matthäus Pöppelmann for the Elector of Saxony, Augustus the Strong. A marvel of Rococo architecture, the Zwinger was built between 1710 and 1728 on part of Dresden’s medieval fortifications (‘Zwinger’ is simply a German name for part of a fortification). St. Sophie’s Church originated in the mid-13th century as a monastery church and was largely remodelled around 1351. After the Reformation the church became the Evangelical church for the royal court. It was altered in the 1860s when a Baroque bell tower was demolished and replaced with the twin spires and two side aisles were added. One of its most important internal features was a Silbermann organ installed in 1720 upon which Bach probably performed in 1733. Both the Zwinger and the Sophienkirche were severely damaged during the air-raids on Dresden in February 1945. The church’s vault survived but collapsed in 1946 following the destruction of the supporting piers inside. The Silbermann organ was also destroyed but the magnificent Renaissance altar by Giovanni Nesseni was salvaged. Although the church could’ve been reconstructed the remains were instead demolished. According to East Germany’s then leader, Walter Ulbricht, “a socialist city does not need Gothic churches” and the last traces of the Sophienkirche were removed in 1963. Fortunately the Zwinger fared much better and has been completely reconstructed to its pre-war state. The Nessini altar can now be seen in a small church at Loschwitz just outside the city limits.