Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Friday, 15 February 2013

Cad (Welsh for fight), mael (Welsh for prince)


Oh no, you're not in Shrewsbury, nor in Budapest - where, as you might know, they built the TV set for 'Cadfael'. These (still) are Britta's letters from Berlin - and as I am writing about a tiny aspect of Cadfael at the moment, I thought: why not take a day off and look what Berlin has to offer from the Middle Ages
Above are the ruins of a Franciscan monastry, the building started in 1250, the three aisled basilica in 13th and 14th century, destroyed by bombers in 1945. 
The Fernsehturm (TV Tower) at the Alexanderplatz overtowers everything: also the Marienkirche (St. Mary's Church), built in the Middle Ages when Berlin and Cölln were twin towns. What wasn't destroyed by the war often was razed by the city planners of the GRD - they had not much money for restoring and wanted space and place for cars.


There is ample space now - right in the middle (Mitte) of Berlin (normal rush hour on a working day!): 



Without any hidden agenda about that they try to restore the Dance of Death in the northern tower vestibule of the Marienkirche (St. Mary's Church): 


And if you come to see the Heilig Geist-Kapelle (Holy Spirit Chapel), also nearby, built in 1300 as part of the Holy-Spirit-Hospital, and now surrounded by the Humboldt-University of Berlin, mind that you come on Thursday from 12:00 - 13:00 - otherwise (as I) you have to peep through a little window at the beautiful  'starry sky' of it: 


Very near is also the oldest church of Berlin, the Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church), built between 1220 and 1230, but I was a bit frustrated because today it is only used as a museum. 


Cadfael I haven't met, and, though we have the Berlinale film festival at the moment, I am sorry to say: nor Sir Derek Jacobi (oh would I have loved that, he has such a beautiful voice!). But even that voice couldn't have lured me into the Middle Ages which I see as DARK - I have a very distinct vision what they would have done with a woman like me :-) 


12 comments:

  1. Hello Britta:
    Whilst we find old buildings immensely fascinating and have much enjoyed looking at these to be found in Berlin, a city we have yet to visit, we too are enormously glad that we were not born into the Middle Ages when life must have been very 'dark' in so many different respects.

    It is so very sad to realise how much of old Berlin was destroyed either during the war or in its aftermath.

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    1. Dear Jane and Lance,
      it is worthwile to visit Berlin - all my English friends are fascinated. Of course to see more remains of the Middle Ages there are better towns - but here you can happily return to vibrant present.

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  2. What a great post - I too have never been to Berlin, but will do one day.

    'Cad' is also the Welsh for 'John Gray', by the way. 'Cad Vile' is the Welsh for me...

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    1. Dear Tom,
      thank you.
      Reading your last sentence I wonder... I only knew 'a Cad' as an old fashioned Victorian name for a person of low standard humour - totally unlikely - so that meaning can be cancelled. As I know you would never lead me vilely up the garden path I will have to do some more linguistic research :-)

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  3. Thanks for the tour Britta. I would love to visit Berlin one day.
    Great photo of the two towers, old and new x

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    1. Dear Penny,
      I thought it too fascinating how that TV tower dominates everything. You will like Berlin.

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  4. I love to read about the past, but have no desire to time travel - no thank you! I like my creature comforts too much. The only little bit of the past I envy is the slower pace. Sometimes modern life whizzes by too fast.

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    1. Dear Pondside,
      at the moment I read Bill Bryson's "At Home" - even the very rich ones of the past would have to envy us: the grapes and pineapples we see on their paintings: almost everybody can buy them in winter in the supermarket; the sanitary facilities: great - and to have good doctors is a blessing too - even if Cadfael does good with his herbs and tinctures :-)

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  5. 'I have a very distinct vision what they would have done with a woman like me'

    This amused me, Britta. :)

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  6. Hahaha, dear Suze,
    you always have an eye for my little 'je ne sais quoi' characteristics :-) . Burning with compassion, I hope?

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  7. I loved exploring the ancient buildings in Europe. I remember seeing an old chapel in Brussels -- over a thousand years old. Here in America the only thing that old is nature.

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  8. Dear Janet,
    very old trees - as you have in America - in my eyes are as beautiful as old churches - and give me the same reverent feeling. But I always admire the ancient ways to build - mankind is able to create so beautiful things.

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