The yellow settlement houses of the Fuggerei in Augsburg.
Augsburg

The Fugger family, the city's market and the “Puppenkiste”

If you're in Munich, be sure not to miss Augsburg. It’s only 70 km down the road, a city with 290,000 inhabitants – and by the way one of the oldest cities in Germany – and it’s a wonderful place to discover on a day trip.

It’s just a stone's throw from Munich to Augsburg: a little over an hour by car and only 30 minutes by train. If you're into sports, you can also ride by bike – in about four hours. However, such a day trip can quickly become more of a sporting event than a sightseeing trip – which is a pity, given that less time remains for the many beautiful highlights on offer in Augsburg. After all, today's capital city of "Schwaben" has always been a big attraction in the region, something stretching all the way back to the days of the wealthy Fugger and Welser families.

You should definitely set aside a little time for the Fuggerei. It's the oldest social housing settlement in existence, and a great place to discover history as it lived and breathed. Jakob Fugger – also known as “Jakob Fugger the Rich” – donated the “Fuggerei” in 1521 and gave Augsburg, which was founded by the Roman Emperor Augustus in 15 BC, a kind of "city within the city" – along with a church, city walls and three gates. The terraced housing estate contains 67 cottages, where even today 150 needy Augsburg residents still live in a total of 140 apartments. The rent is minimal. To qualify to live there, residents must say the Lord’s Prayer, profess their faith and prey a Hail Mary for the donor family every day, as the rental agreement stipulates. When walking through the historic settlement, you can visit a show apartment and learn more about the history of the wealthy Fugger merchant family in a dedicated museum.

Those still wanting to stretch their legs can take a stroll through the city, soaking up the old town, which with its narrow streets and nooks and crannies seems almost Italian in style. There are no huge department stores, but rather small-scale shops, jewellery stores and galleries. Those weaving their way attentively through the streets will discover buildings with different styles, including medieval guild houses, Augsburg’s 11th-century cathedral and its own Renaissance town hall.

With so much history, a little break may be in order, and if so then preferably on Augsburg's city market situated in Fuggerstraße 1. There are fish, antipasti and Bavarian specialities, plus a glass of Aperol Spritz or a cappuccino on the site of a former tobacco factory. Each to their own. In the market halls and stalls, more than 100 traders sell fresh fruit, vegetables and eggs directly from the farm, as well as flowers, meat and sausages from the region.

Anyone wanting to freshen up their childhood memories must definitely go to the Augsburger Puppenkiste (marionette theatre). At the museum, visitors can admire their childhood stars with Urmel or Jim Knopf. If you manage to book in time, you can have a look at the lovingly designed puppets in the show.

Incidentally, the best view to enjoy the city can be found from the 70 metre-high Perlachturm (Perlach tower) situated on Rathausplatz 6. The watchtower – built in 989 – is today one of the highest buildings in Augsburg, after numerous renovations. On good, clear days you can even enjoy a clear view of the Alps and you then know: Munich isn’t that far away!

 

 

Foto: Shutterstock

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