The small town of Monschau is described as a „populated museum“ located on both sides of the Rur River.
Its history began in 1130 when the local Limburg Duke donated his castle to the Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré/Premonstratensians/Norbertines for its converting into a monastery (see the end of the publication – Reichenstein Monastery). The castle functions were taken up by the fortress called Haller.
The remaining ruins are to the left in the picture.
In 1971, the Bulgarian artist Christo Javasheff and Jeanne-Claude de Guillebon wrapped it in the project known as „mon Schau“. It is this project through which Monschau achieved world fame.
In the last decade of the 12th century, the Duke erected a third fortress with the most advantageous strategic position – facing the previous one. Its name took the settlement that developed at its foot in the river valley. The name of the castle varied over the centuries in different forms and pronunciations, but it settled at last as Mont Joie that could be translated from French as ‘Mount of joy’. But in 1918, Emperor William II changed it for nationalistic reasons to Monschau.
Today the castle is used as a youth hostel and summer stage for cultural events. In 1971, it was wrapped too.
But the important event that predetermined the development of the city for many years forward was the settlement at the end of the 16th century, as well as during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648 – a cruel and disgraceful spot in the world history), of the protestant weaver who arrived in the city due to the religious conflicts in Aachen. At that time, Monschau reached its most wealthy period. Almost all houses in town were built between 1640 and 1800 without changing their appearance to this day, because of the following period of poverty. So, the way the town looks nowadays is due to these events.
The two most remarkable buildings in Monschau are the manufacturer houses das Rote Haus/Red House and Haus Troistorff/House Troistorff.
The Red House, a property of the cloth manufacturers family Scheibler, was built in 1768. It had served simultaneously as a living house and a cloth mill. Today it is a museum.
House Troistorff dating from 1783, with a façade in the Louis XVI style.
The so-called Fachwerkhäuser/half-timbered houses – a preferred construction style from the 16-17th centuries (I will often show that sort of buildings).
A witch’s house?
Contemporary mass art. Actually, it is a work by an artist from Niederprüm.
And I will conclude the series of street images with this house that has been astonishing me for 3 years now (but I don’t know when exactly is this message placed on it). It is about accusations against the German legislation, called „a crime gang, backing by the state“, and the like. I was not expecting to see something like this in a „civilized country“ where everyone might be contented, in the view of the fact that every basic human need is satisfied as early as the birth. Of course, I’m speaking from my Bulgarian point of view that absolutely differs from that one of the people in Western Europe.
I didn’t have the chance to visit the Evangelical Church in town – on two occasions in a row, it was closed. It was built between 1787-89. Its dome, so uncommon compared to the other Catholic churches, originates from a demolished Lutheran church in Cologne, and that is why it has on top a swan, which is the symbol of the Lutherans.
But in return, I managed to take a photograph of one Black Madonna in the Church St. Maria Empfängnis/Church of the Immaculate Conception. There are numerous theories about the origin of the Black Madonnas, leading back to Egypt. And according to the most interesting one, this is a secret code revealing the cult of Mary Magdalene and her child from Jesus, that is to say, they do not represent the Virgin Mary with Jesus.
The construction of that church began in 1725 by representatives of the Order of Friars Minor, or the Franciscan Order. In 1856, it was even declared the main parish church. But I couldn’t find any substantial information about it or about the black figure inside.
Reichenstein Monastery, with which the history of Monschau began, is located 5 km. away from the town. It has had changing fortunes over the centuries – a couple of times demolished and deserted, fallen into private hands, and so on. Today it is a property of the Benedictines.
The monastery church was erected between 1692 and 1696, and despite the vicissitudes due to which it sometime had served as a barn, in 1972 it was renovated to obtain its current look.