Frechen is a mid-sized town of about 50,000 residents just west of the city of Cologne. Located along the Rhine River, it has a history dating back to at least 877 but it is the time of the 16th century for which it is particularly notable.
This is the time that the town began producing a new and peculiar brand of art. It is called the Bartmannkrug, or bearded man jug. This pottery was unique to this area and featured a variety of jugs and vessels, each adorned with a little bearded face.
These little pottery men were a rather large export for this area. The British and Dutch bought as many of them as they could get their hands on. They called them Greybeards or Bellarmines. Art historians are still trying to determine the meaning and function of these unusual artifacts.
The debate ranges from stating that these beardmen were representations of a magical God-like figure to arguing that they were simply cute little house decorations. The Keramikmuseum is a good place to see these whimsical pieces on display. And then you can decide for yourself what their purpose could have been.
The beardmen have helped to make Frechen an important center of art. There are avant-garde styles that can be seen here. Be sure to check out the Keramion, home of the ceramic museum, with its UFO-like facade. Many modern artists call Frechen home today because of its interesting artistic style and history.
The town is also home to a large quartz works and lignite (aka brown coal) factories. Other sightseeing destinations here are quite varied and distinct. They include the lime-tree theater, Saint Audomar church, the Jewish cemetery with graves from the 1700s through the 1930s and the town’s massive water tower.
These notable, peculiar and unusual attractions will make sure you don’t forget Frechen anytime soon.