Fotoeins Fotografie

questions of place & home

Posts tagged ‘river’

My Tirol: Scharnitz and Porta Claudia

Where: Scharnitz, at the northern edge of Austria’s Tirol, next to the Austro-German frontier.
What: Porta Claudia, mid 17th-century fortifications directed by and named after Claudia de’ Medici.
BTW: Scharnitz Pass is technically not a mountain pass.

I’m interested in geography, historical relics, and the topography of European borders.

Scharnitz Pass is one of the lowest crossing points over the Alps at an elevation of only 955 metres (3130 feet) with the Wetterstein mountains on one side to the west and the Karwendel mountains to the other side in the east. The pass might better be described as a “gorge”, given how the Isar river traverses the valley floor between the two sets of mountains. Naturally, a road at this location would’ve been ideal as a vital north-south route for trade and communication, which is why the Romans built the stone road, Via Raetia, through the river valley. A 200-metre section of this old Roman road remains in the woods outside the nearby town of Klais. The location of the pass/gorge is also why the Romans built a guard station “Mansio Scarbia” here to control traffic between the northern outer provinces and the rest of the inner empire to the south.

One of the earliest records from the 8th-century AD/CE documents the establishment of Scaraza Monastery, known also as Scarantia#. The name evolved to “Scaraz”, “Scarbia”, “Scarnize”, and eventually “Scharnitz”. Today, between 1300 and 1400 people live in the Austrian town of Scharnitz in the Tirolean region of Seefeld. The town lies on the road between Innsbruck and Munich and next to the international border between Austria and Germany; the strategic importance of this modest town has never gone away.

“Porta Claudia” is the name of former fortifications on high ground at a narrow curve over the Isar river valley. In the midst of the pan-European Thirty Years War, Claudia de’ Medici, the Regent of Austrian Tirol, ordered in 1632 the construction of a strategic defensive rampart at the Tirol-Bavaria border to protect Tirol’s northern border from invasion by Swedish forces. The Bavarians overran the rampart in 1706, but fortifications were expanded in 1766. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote about passing through Scharnitz in 1786 on his journey into Italy. In 1805, Napolean’s army laid siege and destroyed the fortifications, freeing the path for joint French-Bavarian armed forces to enter Austria. Remnants of the retaining wall up to six metres in height and an archway through the wall are visible today.

I’m up and about at dawn, and within 50 minutes on an S-Bahn Tirol S5 train from Innsbruck, I’m about to satisfy my curiosity about this stretch of the Tirolean landscape in Scharnitz. With the existing Schengen treaty among participating European nations, anyone can walk, bike, or drive freely across the unguarded international border between Austria and Germany%.


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Guthrie Theater, Gold Medal Flour, Mill City Museum, Minneapolis, Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday in MSP: Guthrie and the Gold Medal

Between 2003 and 2006, I spent three memorably enjoyable years in Minneapolis and working at the University of Minnesota. I visited the Twin Cities as one of many destinations during my year-long RTW in 2012, and I returned again briefly in 2019 to see what became of the city.

The “Gold Medal Flour” is a city landmark associated with the Mill City Museum and the history and economic impact of flour mills. Next door is another city landmark that is the Guthrie Theater; visitors can step inside to gaze at the architecture and interior design, as well as panorama views over the city and Mississippi River.

I made the photo above on 11 March 2019 with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime and the following settings: 1/1000-sec, f/11, ISO1000, and 18.5mm focal length (28mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-gn1.

Stone Arch Bridge, Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park, Minneapolis, Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday in MSP: Stone Arch Bridge in winter sun

Between 2003 and 2006, I spent three memorably enjoyable years in Minneapolis and working at the University of Minnesota. I visited the Twin Cities as one of many destinations during my year-long RTW in 2012, and I returned again briefly in 2019 to see what became of the city.

On a walk through the “Old Town,” I slipped through two condominium buildings onto a small open space facing north onto a riverside park and the Stone Arch Bridge. Situated next to St. Anthony Falls, the bridge is a bicycle and pedestrian bridge traversing the Mississippi River and connecting downtown Minneapolis with the Marcy-Holmes neighbourhood.

I made the photo above on 11 March 2019 with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime and the following settings: 1/1000-sec, f/16, ISO2000, and 18.5mm focal length (28mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-glH.

Mississippi River, University of Minnesota, Washington Avenue Pedestrian Bridge, downtown Minneapolis, I-35, winter, Minneapolis, Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday in MSP: Minni skyline, Mississippi ice

Between 2003 and 2006, I spent three memorably enjoyable years in Minneapolis and working at the University of Minnesota (U of M). I visited the Twin Cities as one of many destinations during my year-long RTW in 2012, and I returned again briefly in 2019 to see what became of the city.

With my return onto the U of M’s East Bank, I reacquainted myself with the Washington Avenue Bridge, connecting the university campus on both sides of the Mississippi river. I forgot how good the illuminated skyline looks over the river with floating ice. The view shown here faces northwest: at left is the downtown Minneapolis skyline; at right are the Northern Pacific Rail Bridge Number 9, now used for bicycles and pedestrians, and the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge.

I made the photo above on 8 March 2019 with a Fujifilm X70 and the following settings: 1/1000-sec, f/11, ISO1000, 14mm focal length (21mm full-frame equivalent with the WCL-X70). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-gle.

Worms’ Holy Sand: Europe’s oldest surviving Jewish cemetery

I’m looking for a “thousand-year history” in the city of Worms located in southwest Germany. This has nothing to do helminthology or nematology, as the town’s name is derived from “Warmaisa”, the former Jewish name of the city. This is about an important part of Jewish-German history and peaceful coexistence of the Judeo-Christian communities within Europe. The town’s fame and reputation is also partly derived from Martin Luther; I’ve already visited the site where Luther was on trial to answer charges of heresy, as well as the world’s largest Reformation monument.

This part of the Rhein river area is considered the “cradle of European Jewry”, known also as “little Jerusalem on the Rhine.” In medieval times, flourishing Jewish communities in the cathedral cities of Speyer, Worms, and Mainz facilitated the creation of a common Jewish league with the name ShUM (SchUM), spelled out by the first letters of the Hebrew names for the three cities. To emphasize the influence of Jewish heritage in Europe and to continue the ongoing process of preservation and education, the recent application by Germany for the ShUM cities to be inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Site is at present in the Tentative list (2019).

On a breezy late-autumn afternoon, light fades quick, casting solemn shadows on this ground. In the town’s old Jewish cemetery, I’m the only person present, and I’ve placed a small stone on top of a number of gravestones. I’m surrounded by apparitions over an millennium’s age and by the remaining physical traces in various shapes, stones, and size.

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