On my way to Lille I stopped at Liege and checked out the Grand Curtius museum. It is actually several museums in one – but, as is usual, it was undergoing renovations while I was there and the arms & armour collection (it’s near Herstal, of FN/Fabrique Nationale fame) was mostly not on display in the one spot, or even at all. Still, a chunk of it was …
The Mons city museum covered WW1 and WW2 overall and as it affected the local area.
As usual, piss poor lighting and badly placed glass cases made most of the displays unphotographeable … but the museum was actually quite good despite all that.
There are a lot of WW1 museums and memorials in the area … wonder why?
This small but excellently presented museum is at Passchendaele – unfortunately most of the displays are, you guessed it, behind glass, poorly lit and almost impossible to photograph.
However, the basement has a reconstruction of a Trench Bunker system and this leads ourtside to the reconstruction of a section of German and of British trenches … but, again, the lighting in the Bunker was piss poor and only the trench sections were possible to take decent photos of!
Never heard of it, you say? Well, if you know a little about the Battle of the Bulge you may have. Diekirch was one of the locations attacked by the Germans during that period and the civilians were only just evacuated in time by elements of a US army unit whose officer realised that the Germans were going to make a huge mess of the town.
The town was substantially damaged, but is now rebuilt – and the old Kaserne (military barracks, originally for the Luxemburg contribution to the Belgian Army and later for their own forces has been converted into a museum with lots of WW2-Occupation-Bulge memorabilia as well as a comprehensive look at the Luxemburg armed forces and their pre- and post-war existence (lots of contributions to UN ops and the like).
As is all too common, displays are either so dimly lit that you can’t take decent photos without flash … and flash isn’t permitted … or they’re behind glass and lit so that reflections from the poorly placed lighting make photography impossible … and in a number of cases they are simply so jam-packed together that you can’t get a decent angle on anything.
Still, I managed to get a few shots …
They have a large hall (in the process of being expanded) on one of the top levels which contains a large number of soft-skinned WW2 era vehicles (and some light armoured cars and the like) … but, well, remember what I said about things being jam packed? That was the case. For the most part you simply couldn’t get an angle that would show the whole vehicle without something else getting in the frame.
There are, however, several large items (tanks and artillery) outside at the front of the museum … see below …
Luxemburg was interesting … cheaper by far (for fuel) than Germany or Belgium since they have either no fuel tax or a much reduced one and, interestingly, open on Sundays. The place I stayed at was actually built over a huge shopping mall less than a dozen klicks from the Belgian border and not more than a half hour from the German one … and it had huge numbers of German and Belgian number plates in their parking areas, and was massively crowded inside … probably because Belgians and Germans (some of them, at least) are normal people and don’t really like having the entire country close down on Sundays … so they go to Luxemburg to shop!
Germany is like Australia was in the 1950’s, bugger all is open on Sundays … Belgium and France are like Australia in the 1960’s, there are usually limited trading hours, with supermarkets opening late (9-10) and closing way early (usually 12-1:30). Backward as all get out.
Not a lot of things to see along the Rhine between Munich and Mainz/Trier … or not in the time I had left in Germany, so I prioritized and did a long drive up to Mainz where there is the …
Gutenberg was a Mainz boy – born into a wealthy family there. Need I explain why he is a rather important figure?
Unfortunately, the lighting inside the museum was absolutely piss poor and I simply couldn’t get any worthwhile photos … of the printing presses.
Still, they had quite a few … and two Gutenberg Bibles.
Museum of Ancient Seafaring
This was the unexpected sleeper … technically speaking it’s not really about seafaring so much as it is about riverine craft. Building on actual boat remains excavated at various nearby sites the museum has reconstructed actual full size replicas of several riverine craft from the Roman riverine forces as well as commercial craft.
The museum also has many dozens of wooden models of Roman and Classical era ships, ocean going (well, mediterranean going) and riverine.
Being an actual Kingdom, and a pretty large one in pre-1870 terms for Germany, the Wittelsbachs (the ruling dynasty) managed to collect some nice stuff … a lot of which is in the Residenz, which I covered in my last blog post. However, they also encouraged the development of a number of major museums, including this one, which has a really nice collection of Greek, Roman and miscellaneous antiquities, mainly pottery (which wass both ubiquitous and has the fortunate property of being damn near eternal, even when broken).
The Egyptian Museum
When I was in Munich last portions of what’s on display here were evidently on display in the Residenz, but not optimally … so they built a new, smallish, museum in the museum precinct to contain a much large selection of the items they have on hand … and display them much more advantageously …
Munich … the last time I was here I didn’t manage to see the Residenz (i.e. the residence of the Bavarian Dukes/Electors/Kings) … but this time I did. The Treasury is quite amazing … the things the rulers managed to pick up over the years!
The Residenz Treasury
The Residenz Rooms
There are supposedly close to 300 rooms in the Palace, and you can visit over 200 of them … though not always the same ones. I must have had a good crack at seeing almost all that were open … here are some highlights …
That’s all for today, folks. More on Munich … later …
Notable mainly because it was rendered a backwater before the place could fall into the hands of ‘Developers’ who would have levelled pretty much everything in sight – and what remains is a remarkably well preserved medieval-renaissance-30 Years War melange …
Actually this is, again, out of chronological order – I visited it between Wurzburg and Nuremberg.
The town has a fairly good museum for such a relatively small place … with, amongst other things, an excellent collection of arms and armour. Some of which were even photographable! Sadly, of course, most were behind glass and badly lit so they were all reflection … what else is new?
Then there was the Deutsche Bahn(German Railway) museum …
… which was actually a Transport & Communications museum as well.
A lot of the indoor stuff was badly lit and behind reflective glass – or, just as bad, was placed in such cramped spaces that you simply couldn’t get a shot of more than a meaningless fraction … and the outdoors stuff, while better lit and not behind glass was also often in such cramped quarters as to make getting any sort of meaningful shot impossible.
Last time I was in Germany I took the train from Munich to Berlin … didn’t have time to do Nuremberg on the way. This time, driving, I *did* …
The site of the Nazi rallies was quite accessible – a tram ride from the central station which, in my case, was a direct line from my hotel on the outskirts of town. Unfortunately, as is all to common, the museum (‘Documentation Centre’) while excellent was full of video clips (not photographable, obviously) and cases full of items so cunningly lit and glassed in as to make them also unphotographable!
I had intended to do a walk around the site (it’s huge) and see some of the remaining structures – but it was raining. Nice weather for the Geese on the lake shore, not so much for any pedestrians.
The City Proper
One of the days I was there I headed off to see the Imperial Castle which overlooks the city (well, the Old city) … and walked through parts of the old historic district …
The Imperial Castle
You know all about Town & Gown with differences between medieval Universities and their local towns? Well, Nuremberg had issues with Town & Emperor … the Imperial Castle overlooking the town was, from time to time, either seen as a threat to the Town’s civic rights or occupied by the town.
Of course, McGregor luck being what it is, most of the exterior was covered in hoarding and scaffolding as they rebuild and refurbish large swathes of the site … and after I’d hiked up this bloody steep hill to get there!
The views from the top, however, were pretty good …
The tour of the interior was, of necessity, only of the interior … but it was pretty good, too
The main palace of the Bishop, the local feudal lord back in the day. It was severely damaged by bombing and fire during WW2 but, right at the end of the war, some of the American Monuments Men (per the movie) actually managed to put a temporary roof over the remnants and pretty much save a lot of it … and lots of reconstruction work has been done on the damaged and even some of the destroyed parts … with lots more to go, of course.
The interiors were OK, but, again, lighting and the ‘no flash’ rules made it impossible to get decent exposure times. Still, there are other places I will Blog about ‘real soon now’ where there were much better conditions!