Constance And Huss House - Germany
It is quite simple to find Huss House, for those who arrive to the this town with 80 000 inhabitants (the town has, including its suburbs of Swiss part, 120 000 persons totally) from Swiss part. In the environs of Constance, cross border is passing, and on „Swiss part“ of the Rhine, or of Constance Lake, the old part (Altstadt) of the Constance with most of historical monuments is to be found. So, you need to find your way according to the nearest historical carpentered town´s gate (Schnetztor) and here, turn aside to parking place at Karstadt department store towards Augustiner Platz (by the way, this subterranean parking place is worth to see even from project point of view, as nothing similar was available in ouŕ country).
If you will not be temptated with department store offer, I wish to reccommend you, to pass through small park and across courtyard walk to imposing rich decorated building of new town hall. The right direction will be confirmed with a tree (with double trunk interwoven mutually each other), where many wedding couples are taking their photos.
So, when you reach one of busy historical street, you can go from moderate hill towards historical square (Markstatte) towards railway station (even there the German as well as Swiss section is marked) and Constance Lake. Except of wonderful view to wide waters of the lake (Bodensee-Constance Lake is the third biggest lake of the Europe, after Balaton in Hungary and Geneve Lake. Its depth reaches up to 250 metres and it forms a border between Germany and Switzerland, and short section in the east belongs to Austria, too). White sails in the horizon are worth to see for two monuments. One of them is powerful building with red roof, known as Konzilgebaude (Counsil Building). As this name suggests, a part of church counsil of the beginning of 15th century was realized just there. Concretely, there was the only election of the Pope in the history, effected in north direction from Alps Mountains and in Germany. Originally, the building served as port store of grain and other goods and as a market. Now, you find there a hotel and restaurant.
To most popular modern monuments belongs Imperum Plastic Statue, presenting a woman, keeping in her hands two small figures of the King and a Pope. Its author was obviously inspired with a novel of Honore de Balzac, describing majestic concubine, the scene of which was realized just in Constance. Unfortunately, I did not kept in mind the name of the romance, nevertheless, I know another historical novel, concerning directly last weeks of life of Master John of Husinec and another connections of Constance counsil. The work was written by MUDr. Antonin Polach, real Central European writer (native in Nový Jičín, he worked, when finishing his studies, in Košice and Poprad, living in Austria at present). The novel names „Among Emperor and a Pope“.
Following Traces of Master John
Before we return to carpentered gate Schnetztor, where Huss House is to be found, let´s say something about town´s name history. The oldest written notice comes of 5th century A.D. when the community named Constantia, in honour of Constantine, Roman Emperor was established. The military troops of this Emperor let the fights with German clan of Alemans. Middle Age German language mutilated this name later, so Slave Constance was created. The name Constance was created probably also from the reason – as mentioned in time-period testimony – afterthat martyr´s death, all not burnt bones of this Bohemian priest were shattered to pieces with sticks to a dust, and the ash was poured out into Rhine-river on unknown place, in order no memory was left after him. This rich merchant centre was an important place and a seat of Bishop at the same time. The Virgin Mary Bishop´s Church, marked in maps as Munster (the Cathedrals in more German town are named like this). In fact, the church names „Zu unserer lieben Frau“ and could be easily found according imposant tower (it is obviously accessible, including panoramatic for tourists). Just close to the entrance to the church, the pilgrims find the place, where obviously John Huss heard his verdict.
Except of this, it is worth to visit, as far as the other town towers is concerned, former town´s gates, first of all, the Schnetztor. Here ends typical Middle Age street (Huss-Street) and closely to the gate, you can see the target - Huss - House. John Huss spent there, probably on lease of poor widow, his first three months after arrival to Constance, in autumn 1414. Afterthat, he was put into prison in former Monastery of Dominican Friars Order (however, this building was not preserved till now).
However, if it could be really this house, nobody would confirm this fact exactly. During time period, when Reformation and Anti-Reformation periods changed in the course of centuries, so it was reminded or hushed up the memory on such personality. Anyway, just within 19th century, could Bohemian countrymen, with support of local citizens, to place there great stone (so called Huss Stone-Hussenstein) on a place in front of fortifications, where the executions were effected in past, and which was subsequently surrounded with building houses of spreading town. And so, it was also possible to mark the house where Bohemian priest obviously stayed. After establishment of Czechoslovakia, this house was bought by syndicate of Czech banks, for the benefit of Huss Museum Assotiation, which finally took over the administration.
Today´s face of exposition is a result of vast reconstruction at century berak. However, the museum itself does not offer many memorial subjects, it is stressed more as pieta place, reminding a life and work of Master John, including his reference to present time. To the place of execution you have to pass the distance of one kilometer approx. At first, you have to overpass very busy circular communication Obere Laube, and afterthat – provided you are not accompanied with a guard - you need the orientation in accordance with a map, and continue up to crossroad of streets with names of Alten Graben (Old Ditches) and Zum Hussenstein (To Huss Stone). Nevertheless, except inscription „Johannes Huss“ and a date of his execution, the similar iscription on the opposite part of the stone reminds that Jeronym of Prague was executed on the same place in spring of 1416.
The town and its Environs
The town of Constance, situated in Federal Union Republic of Baden-Wurttenberg, is a town, rich on historical monuments as well as on modern places of interests. So, regarding these modern, let´s to mention gigantic aquarium Sea Life Centre, including Natural Science Museum (Bodensee-Naturmuseum). The history of the town and environs makes an acquaintance by means of Archaeological and Rosgartenmuseum. In the town, there is a seat of the University, own Philharmony Orchestra, and regular culture festivals are taken place there. (such as: Bodensee Festival, Summer Seenachtfest, Octoberfest, Christmasmarket, etc.) enliving city centre and embankments nearly all year round.
The environs of the town, as well as Constance Lake, are offering great number of cyclimg routes of comfortable or rather difficult character. The excursions to lake islands of Mainau and Reichenau are very popular. You can find there former noble (aristocracy) seat and monastery, surrounded with rare gardens, parks and nature reservations. Another excurions offer the journey to Rhine Waterfalls (Rheinfall, most powerful in Europe), in the distance of 60 kms. To local attractions belong also the excursions in air-ships. Famous builder of these machines – Ferdinand von Zeppelin, was born in Constance, and the factory for air-ships was constructed in near Friedrichshafen.
Text: Jiří Výborný
Translation: ing. Jan Jonáš
Photo: autor a Tourist-Information Konstanz
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