100_1435.jpg100_1434.jpgA short while back, Jianhong and I went to Staufen.  Staufen is known for being the place where Dr. Faustus worked.  He was invited there by a nobleman and supposedly this is where he sold his soul.  There’s a plaque there for those who are interested.  Other than this, Staufen is known for a ruined castle.  The Swedes destroyed the castle (seriously) and now the ruins have been a tourist attraction.

Staufen is not too far away from Freiburg and you can actually take a train directly from Freiburg there.  We happened to pick a beautiful day to go for a walk, as it was not too hot but was plenty sunny.  And Staufen is a small enough town that you are guaranteed not to get lost.

100_1436.jpgOur first stop on this trip was the castle ruins.  We didn’t have too far to go, walking maybe half an hour or so, and at the top of the ruins, there is a nice view of the town.  Jianhong and I sat down for a few minutes and looked at the town.  It is, like most small German villages, an interesting mixture between modern and medieval, and quite picturesque.

100_1437.jpgAfter all of that hard work, sitting down and seeing how picturesque it is, we continued along.  There isn’t much left of the original castle, as the Swedes did a bang-up job of destroying it.  You get small pieces of walls, a couple of buildings (which look like they’re still standing to give gardners some storage space), and that’s about it.  In one area, there’s a staircase leading up.  The stairs are very difficult for somebody with clown-sized feet like mine, but somehow I was able to make it.  About halfway up, there was a plaque describing the history of the town.  I’ll include it here even though it’s entirely in German, so most of my audience won’t be able to read it.

The gist of the story is that this was a watchtower in the Roman times.  After that, Adalbert von Staufen began construction on the castle around the year 1100.  Georg Leo von Staufen, in 1602, was the last male in the family, and after 1607, the castle was abandoned.  The Swedes destroyed it in 1632, and in 1896, the city council purchased the ruins and began to renovate them.

100_1453.jpg100_1445.jpgThe most famous inhabitant of this castle was Doctor Johannes Faustus, who was invited in 1539 by Freiherr Anton von Staufen.  Faustus was a famous alchemist and necromancer who, as noted in Goethe’s tale as well as Marlowe’s earlier version, sold his soul to Mephistophiles (which is how they spell it in the plaque, but I seem to recall Mepistopheles as the correct spelling).  I had to read this for Jianhong because she’s too lazy to read.

On the way up, we also spotted a newt.  What does this mean?  Absolutely nothing!

This was probably the most interesting part of Staufen.  After reaching the top and walking around, we found out that there really wasn’t too much else to the castle, so we decided to go back down and see the city. The town is very small, with some shops, houses, and what you would expect from a small European village.  [Note how I keep using smaller and smaller terms here…]  Jianhong brought a carrot cake that she bought from Migros, so we sat down and ate that for lunch.  It was quite tasty, although a little smushed because it was sitting on the side in her purse.  At least she brought forks, though…

100_1449.jpgInside the town itself,  there were a few shops.  We ended up going to a cheese shop because we had about an hour before the train would arrive and needed to kill some time somehow.  Jianhong recommended a particular kind of cheese and we bought two pieces of it.  I actually didn’t really like the taste of the cheese, but this may be because I have no taste.  That’s what people who see how I dress say.

100_1460.jpgThe city hall had an interesting feature:  there were shields of all of the various cities, states, and whatnot which owned Staufen.   Unfortunately, I fried the larger images, so I can’t really read them anymore.  Oops…

Aside from that, though, there’s not really too much to Staufen.  It’s the kind of place you go to on a lazy afternoon when you just want to get out and go for a walk somewhere.  Granted, I haven’t had too many lazy afternoons lately, what with my schedule, but I had to take time to do this because there’s no reason not to.

100_1443.jpgCould I recommend Staufen to somebody? Yeah, I could, but don’t waste your time staying there overnight.  I didn’t eat anyplace here, didn’t really see too much of it, and we left about four hours after arriving (if even that long), but it was worth seeing.  The scenery is great, there are some trails and a forest that we really didn’t go through, and even though there isn’t much left of the castle, it’s fun to imagine how it probably looked four hundred years ago, before the vicious, bloodthirsty Swedes destroyed it.

100_1454.jpgPlus it’s funny trying to think of modern-day Swedes as a vicious, bloodthirsty nation.  They probably had to build all of their weapons themselves and they came with crazy names like the Pübli.

One final thing to note is that, right near the train station, there is an interesting signpost, showing how far away you are from various cities.  If you ever wanted to know how far away Timbuktu is from Staufen, well, it’s apparently 2200 miles away.

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