Coburg Germany

As part of my month long trip with the family through Europe, during a week in Munich as a base, several trips were made to other areas to maximize the coverage and experiences.

The Arrival

I drove into Coburg from Munich on the A4 autobahn from the south. It's an almost too perfect medieval town, the linchpin of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the home of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband, and the center of many important events over its 1000 years in existence

The Town

Like I said, it's almost perfect. The outside has some newer industry (in Germany, that means after WW2). The inner part of the town, still surrounded by its wall, can be accessed by one of many gated towers that are mirror-scrapingly narrow.

It has been home to many Dukes over the centuries; they built their palaces and the impressive fortress Veste Coburg on the hill.

The center of town is, of course, a Markplatz like most Germany towns from that time period, with a very unregulated series of streets radiating out from that point.

Coburg suffered pretty heavy losses in both of the World Wars, as well as various other European conflicts. Its memorials to the effort given in war are evident on the northeast side of the town, and continue through the Hofgarten, up the hill, and to the castle.

Franz Freidrich Anton, one of their most important Dukes, is buried in the park with his first wife, Princess Sophie of Anton. They say Queen Victoria was the mother of the European nobility, but Franz beat her by a hundred years and fathered the lineages that went to reign over Belgium, England (including all of Victoria's children via Albert), Portugal, Mexico, and Bulgaria. Anton was competent militarily and a very masterful negotiator, leading Coburg's recovery from the financial dire straits that had plagued the city.

The Castle

You would be remiss if you do not visit the castle on the hill, Veste Coburg. It was initially started as a hill settlement and protective fortification in the 900s. Over the next thousand years, it was greatly expanded and refurbished to become a very imposing and dominant deterrent to anyone who might try to wrest control of this town.

A magnificent fortress, I find you may want to drive or take a taxi to it. The walk is very strenuous (even when I was a fit soldier in the US Army back in 1985 my first time here). The entrance is a grand affair, coming in under the main courtyard with doors and gates, past the external wall and gate. When you finally get into the courtyard, you see it contains residences, an expansive museum, the ducal chapel, and probably most notably, the apartment where Martin Luther hid out from the Catholic Diet (a conference of higher members of the church) at Augsburg that was intent on having him condemned. He was already an outlaw to them, arrestable on sight, but the nobles in Germany found that if they could give Luther legitimacy, they could break the stranglehold the Pope had over them. They were successful to a good degree, gaining a new church and a significant amount of independence in action.

The castle's collection of armor, weapons, and implements of war were used to defend the people who, in return, gave their taxes and worked for the ducal family.

It was also the home of the Duke and holds the collection which, at the time, were the most modern types of weapons for hunting. It contains everything from bows and wheel lock rifles to match locks, flint locks and some very interesting semi-automatic weapons made on those formats.

The transportation for the family was also stored here, in the manner of sleds and carriages, many of them spanning centuries of advances in technology.
1300s ballah

Summary

Coburg is a beautiful, quaint German town that retains so much of its character from its very long existence. While somewhat light on tourist services, I find it an excellent day trip with street food, restaurants, and plenty of sights to keep you busy until the sun starts to set. It's a trip back in time.



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