We were able to make a quick tour of some churches of the Allgäu region in Bavaria with Karen’s cousin Wolfgang and his wife Ingrid during our stay in Durach. It was part of a culture tour as Ingrid described it. Early on the Tuesday we travelled to the nearby Benedictine Abbey and Basilica of St Alexander and Theodor at Ottobeuren. The Basilica’s two towers were highly visible as we entered the town.
It’s existence as an abbey dates back to 764 but the Basilica, which replaced an older church, wasn’t built until the mid 1700s, being consecrated in 1766. We were able to have a good look around the interior of the Basilica. It was Baroque in style. This meant we were able to see fantastic frescoes on the ceiling. The usual white had been used along with green, pink and gilt throughout the interior. The choir stalls were beautifully carved, again with gilt reliefs. Most impressive.
We looked around for some time, just amazed at the beauty and the skill of the artisans involved.
Later on that day we were in Kempten so we visited another two churches. Firstly we went to St Mang Kirche, which is where cousin Sabine sometimes sings in the choir. It was a relatively undecorated Evangelical church compared to the Catholic ones. However two things stood out. The wood carving on the altar was simple incredible. The detail in the crucifixion scene was just so lifelike and the pained faces were incredibly well done.
It took quite a few minutes to just look and take it all in. The other standout was the stained glass windows. They were relatively modern in style, with amazing detail. It was hard to believe they were created with glass and not painted when you looked at the detail. The resurrected Jesus window was especially well done.
From there we walked through a light drizzly rain to the Basilica of St Lawrence, the Catholic Church. It was a former monastery that was even older in origin than the one we had seen earlier in the day at Ottobeuren. Again it had two massively imposing towers at the front and was domed. It was on the site of former churches but had been reconstructed in baroque style in the mid 1600s with rococo additions, such as the side altars, at a later time. However the towers were only built at the start of the 1900s. The frescoes were simply beautiful. Lots of gilt borders had been used to highlight the artwork. Also the woodcarvings on the choir stalls here stood out as we looked around. All very impressive.
The following day we lunched at Wildgasthaus Tobias as cousin Oliver’s guest with Wolfgang and Ingrid. It’s the clubhouse of Wolfgang’s shooting club. The house specialtry is spätzle, the German answer to Italian pasta, so that was what we all ordered. The spätzle tends to be softer and was served with a delicious three cheese sauce. Of course a local beer is the best accompaniment! After lunch we took a short stroll down the road through delightfully green countryside. Along the way we came to a very small chapel. Wolfgang told us it was built by the family who owned the Wildgasthaus Tobias. It sat next to a very small pond and was obviously a peaceful place to sit, pray or just contemplate.
Later in the afternoon, along with Ingrid and Oliver, Karen and I took a familiarization walk around their town Durach. We visited their local church. It too was beautifully decorated in white, cream, pink and gold edged with amazingly detailed frescoes.
After that we walked through the town and out into the lovely green countryside. At one point we rested in a spot with a lovely view of a local lake and the surrounding countryside. When we continued back towards the town we came upon another of these diminutive chapels, this time built by one of the wealthier local farmers.
The path leading up to it was adorned both sides with a beautiful garden and a series of stopping points with small monuments showing the Way of the Cross.
Inside it was equally well kept and the wooden altar piece was exquisitely carved. It was indeed another little oasis of peace. Our walk back to Durach gave us plenty of time to reflect on the lovely churches and chapels we had seen in the Allgäu.