The German city of Meissen is world-famous for it’s porcelain of exceptional quality, easily recognisable by the Crossed Swords mark. When visiting Meissen, my wife and I only caught a glimpse of the porcelain though.
After visiting Albrechtsburg castle, where the first European porcelain was produced in 1710, and enjoying a spectacular view over the city from the tower of the Frauenkirche, we entered the small, historic gatehouse (Torhaus).
In the Middle Ages, the Torhaus was an important building in Meissen, being the only accesspoint to Albrechtsburg castle. Throughout the centuries, the Torhaus has been the home of many famous German artists, including master sculptor Christian H. Kaendler and Romantic painter Ludwig Richter.
From 1997 to 2012, the Torhaus was part of the Stadtmuseum. Inside was a small, but catching exhibition about life in the nineteenth century – told fully through diaries. Most of the visitors only spent 10 to 15 minutes in the Torhaus, briefly looking at the objects on display and hardly reading any of the texts. But as historians – we were intrigued. The diaries gave a personal insight to the nineteenth century, as seen from a prosperous man who’s ultimate dream was to travel all of Europe – which was the world back then. After having saved enough money, already making plans for the tour, fate struck. His wife got very ill and he had to spend all his savings to buy medicine to save her life. A moving story about true love.
Making a local connection
The suppost of the Torhaus came to water the indoor plants in the windowsills, surprised to see us still there after more than an hour. Turned our he was a historian as well, very interested in meeting like-minded and proud to elaborate about construction of the exhibition. For years, he had been an enthousiastic coin collector. So we decided to give him a limited edition Guilder coin from The Netherlands. The coin pictured a lion, handdrawn by schoolboy Tim van Melis in 2001, just before the Euro was introduced. In exchange, we got a German 1 Pfennig coin. According to German tradition, as long as a 1 Pfennig coin is in your wallet, you’ll never be poor. We still treasure this Pfennig to this day.
By then, we had completely forgotten about the time; the Meissen Porzellan Manufactur & Museum, workshop and museum dedicated to the white gold, was about to close. Luckily, we were still admitted, allowing us a limited peak of the massive collection.
My application for the World Nomads Travel Writing Scholarship 2020
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