Saturday, November 27, 2010

Our Second Home

Today dawned bright and sunny so we got out early to enjoy the day. We headed for the main square where the town hall has a large tower with a cool clock. On the hour at eleven and twelve it will play a song on the Glockenspiel and characters do a dance. We had seen one in Prague and missed taking a picture of it so this time I was prepared.

When the clock rang, I focused the camera and took a movie. Yes, I took a movie with my very own camera. The clock chimed and chimed and chimed. The Glockenspiel played and the minutes ticked by. My arms became tired. Nothing moved save my shaking arm muscles. After almost five minutes of glorious Glockenspiel music, I turned off the camera. I can’t say for sure that it was at the exact second my camera turned off but pretty close to that time, the characters began to dance. The irony of this is delicious, isn’t it?

As I failed to get a video of the action, let me reconstruct the scene in a play by play. There were actually two tiers of characters and the top tier moved first with jousters coming around to charge each other two times. The second time one hit the other and he fell back slightly. That was good. Then the bottom tier moved. The characters spun around dancing to the music. The whole episode had to have been about 8 minutes long, including the musical prelude I videoed for you. Can you imagine every day for 600 years or however long the dang thing has been there? No wonder it only does its thing twice now.

We went over to see the Residenz afterwards. This is the palace the kings and their families lived in while in Munich. We’ve been to many palaces by now. Even I am beginning to tire of the pattern of rooms and d├ęcor. However, Rick said this was worth it and he was right. If you see a palace, see this one. It’s HUGE! They have over 90 rooms open to the public and each set tries to outdo the rest. It seemed that every time a new king was up for coronation, he’d set up a new wing and recreate new rooms. This truly was what I think of when I think of palace life. Sumptuous yet homey; our second home.

The first picture is the banquet hall. The raised platform is where the king would eat. There was another room where there was a long dining table with elegant chairs placed only on one side. It seems that in the 16th - 18th centuries the royalty would eat in public. Every so often, on special occasions you could come to see the royalty eat. Isn't that hilarious? You could watch them use their cutlery, choose whom to talk to and when, watch how they drank from their glasses and so on. It was all very well rehearsed. I suppose it was a kind of early version of Emily Post.
The bedroom here they had only for show. No one ever slept here. When guests came, they saw this as they moved through the house. Behind the bed, the hangings were embroidered with silver thread making a glittering compliment to the gilt of the walls and ceiling. Over time, the thread has oxidized so it now lacks the same punch it used to have but you get the idea. Isn't this nice? A bedroom just for show.
The picture on the right is the ancestral gallery. Now why hadn't I thought of that? The entire hall is covered in portraits of royal family figures as far back as they can go. I guess we'd have a somewhat shorter gallery but then our hallway is somewhat shorter than this.

I also learned about religious relics. We saw the Christ doll when we were in Prague and I had difficulty understanding why it was so important. The audio-guide here explained that the Catholics believed that if you prayed to a relic, the saint attached to that relic would hear you and miracles could also occur through relics. The more relics you had, the better your chances for a miracle. It also raised your status so it was important for kings to gather as many as possible. Especially good were things like a piece of the cross on which Christ was crucified or the robe he wore and so on.

It was a lovely day. Tomorrow it is supposed to snow again. We are off to Hopferau, a little village a couple of hours west of Munich. We’re going to try to drive so I’m sure there will be exciting stories ahead!


maryanncart said...

Loved all the pictures...thanks so much for continuing with to all of youl