I think television has ruined us. What does this have to do with a town like Fürstenau in Lower Saxony? Well, here’s my theory. We romanticize life in the Middle Ages on television (and movies) to the point where we don’t see how difficult life really was.
There was no fluoride in the water (think of the bad teeth of Austin Powers) and there was a constant threat of war by invaders and marauders. Also, if you did something very very naughty, the justice system we know today didn’t exist.
Good thing, Fürstenau has changed with the times and life here today is nowhere near as harsh, difficult, and bloody as it once was.
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Now, don’t go thinking that I’m not in my happy place when I write this. I just so happen to think that Fürstenau is pretty gosh-darn awesome. My darker introduction just sets up some of the sites around town and what they were really for.
Not too many medieval towns still have a pillory like Fürstenau. Oh, you know what a pillory is — it’s where those naughty criminals where tied to in the middle of the market square and pelted with insults (if you were lucky, that’s all they did).
The best place for information about Fürstenau is at the Tourist Information Center, located in the Alte Rathaus (Old Town Hall) at Große Straße 27. They’re open Monday-Friday (9am-3:30pm) and Saturdays from March to September. They work less hours from October to February and never on a Saturday.
But, they’ll tell you to visit the Evangelical Luthern Church of St. George; and Castle Fürstenau, another place we tend to romanticize; as many were centers of wars and knights in (shining) armor. Otherwise, Fürstenau wouldn’t have needed a Stadtmauer (defense wall) or the Hohes Tor (High Gate) to let people in (or help keep them out!).
The Tourist Office will also gladly help you with bicycle rentals, fishing licenses, and direct you to the Hünen Cult Grave Stones, which are grave dating back almost a thousand years B.C.
You can also take a covered wagon ride, visit a pony farm (oh, what little girl hasn’t ever wanted her own pony), and enjoy everything from camping, to cafes, to fine dining.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go stay in my happy place — so you’ll find me walking the paths in the nearby nature reserve. If you’re coming, bring a tent along since camping is great fun here. ;-)