Sunday 26 September 2010

A visit to the City of Five Towers, Halle (Saale) and its Marktkirche

Third time lucky! The ethereal sound of Bach's Fantasy and Fugue in D-minor echoed around the Marktkirche in Halle Saale as I entered. The music was played on the Reichel Organ, the very instrument that Georg Friederich Händel had learnt to play on.

Halle is known as the City of Five Towers. The Marktkirche has four towers as a result of its replacing two churches that had stood on the site over 450 years ago. Nearby is the red bell tower, the "Rote Turm" from 1506. Together these five towers dominate the city centre market place under the stern gaze of Händel, the city's famous son.

The inside of this late gothic church was a surprise. It breathes light and space, yet the amount of decoration is unusual for a protestant church. The church was first built as a catholic bastion against the new protestants. It was still incomplete when the latter took over in 1541. Luckily they kept to the original vision!

There are two organs, the larger being at the back of the nave. The smaller organ by Reichel that Händel played on is above the altar. Tuned for 17th century music, it is well suited to the works of the old masters.

The pulpit seemed extravagent to me! However, it's baroque elements did not put off the preachers!

I liked the south and north walls of the aisles which are decorated in white floral scrolls on blue. I noticed that on one area near the entrance, faces and animals have been coloured in.

Situated south of Berlin and not far from Leipzig, Halle used to be famous for it's salt. The city's emblem is a salt crystal over a crescent salt pan. The emblem is very like that of Portsmouth FC! Halle's famous son Händel was invited over to England when his employer, George, the elector of Hannover, became King George I of Great Britain.

All too soon, my colleague, Syvia Schmidt of Come Across, had to drag me back to reality. The pleasure of the visit set the tone for a positive meeting with companies that afternoon.

What sights have you enjoyed on your trips?

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