As I mentioned before, I am teaching two classes at the University of Vechta this winter semester. Classes started two weeks ago, which partly accounts for the relative lack of blogging, because class preparation takes up quite a bit of time, particularly this early in the semester.
I already shared some photos of Vechta in this post. However, here are some more photos, both of the university and of some of the things to be seen on the way there. We have churches, sculptures, a prison and several roadside shrines, which are a common sight throughout Catholic regions of Germany (and Vechta happens to be located right in the middle of a Catholic enclave in otherwise largely Lutheran Northwest Germany).
There are three roadside sights on my route I was not able to photograph, because stopping to take a picture is impossible there. Those are Nüstedt’s strawberry farm near Bassum, a vegetable farm cum store that is currently decorated all over with pumpkins, Little Kentucky, a beautiful horse farm just outside Twistringen, and the Darth Vader bordello of Natenstedt, a farmhouse literally in the middle of nowhere that serves as a bordello (prostitution is legal in Germany). The windows of the farmhouse are decorated with red neon tubes which look a bit like lightsabres, hence the name.
Let’s start with the town of Goldenstedt. The name means “Golden city” and refers to an event in the 11th century, when the Count of Diepholz and his newly wed bride passed through Goldenstedt, site of a bridge across the river Hunte, and passed out gold coins to the cheering populace. Goldenstedt also has the distinction of being mentioned in a novel by Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen and of having a Nobel Prize winner for physics amongst the sons of the city (sort of – he only lived there for a couple of years as a child).
View across the cemetary at the Lutheran church of Goldenstedt. Goldenstedt lies directly on the borderline of a traditionally Lutheran and a traditionally Catholic area, so they have both churches.
View across the cemetary at the Catholic St. Gorgonius church, named after a 4th century martyr. I like the fact that both churches are sharing the cemetary.
This statue stands in the garden of the kindergarten of the town of Goldenstedt.
The Catholic St. Mary church in Oythe, a suburb of Vechta.
The bronze sculpture “Dei Muese von Aite” (Lower German for The Mice of Oythe) based on a poem about two mice living in the vicarage house when they are driven out by a new cat. You can see the vicar, his housekeeper and the cat, though I did not capture the mice.
The poem Dei Muese von Aite may be found here BTW, both in the original Lower German and in a high German translation. The mill whence the mice emigrate still exists BTW and is still active. The adjacent bakery has the best whole grain bread in the region.
A roadside shrine in the village of Abbenhausen near the town of Twistringen. Shrines like these are a common sight in Catholic parts of Germany. I pass several on my way to Vechta.
A closer look at the crucifix inside the roadside shrine of Abbenhausen. Note the fresh flowers.
Another roadside shrine, the wrought iron rose cross in the village of Heide near Goldenstedt. The rose cross stands at the intersection between two important roads, a common location for roadside shrines.
I have no idea if this particular roadside shrine was set up by Rosicrucians, though the iconography is rather unmistakable. And while I know that there are modern day Rosicrucians in Bremen, I have no idea if there are any to be found in Goldenstedt and vicinity. I guess the origin of this cross will remain a mystery. It is beautiful, though.
This crucifix is one of several to be found throughout the campus of the University of Vechta, which was born out of the union of a Catholic teacher training college, a Catholic college for social workers and a secular school for agronomics. This particular crucifix was a gift from the bishop of Münster.
This striking modern crucifix may be found opposite the Catholic campus chapel at the university of Vechta.
These chalk inscriptions above the door to the Catholic campus chapel of the University of Vechta show that the chapel (and the university, hopefully) has been blessed by the Starsingers, children dressed as the three wise men who go from door to door between Christmas and Epiphany Day (January 6), singing, collecting money for charity and dispensing blessings. The blessing indicates the year, the names of the three wise men (Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar) as well as three crosses for the holy trinity and a star for the star of Bethlehem.
For more about the custom of Starsinging go here and here. Potential trigger warning for white children in blackface make-up (one of the three wise men is commonly depicted as black). Though in recent years I have been pleased to see more black children among the Starsingers.
The so-called Findling garden on the campus of the University of Vechta. Findlinge are large rocks deposited by ice age glaciers, which may be found throughout North Germany. This garden is a joint project of the biology and geology faculties.
Another look at the Findling garden. In addition to Findlinge, the garden also contains various biological specimen.
Beautiful foliage on the campus
The door to the office I share with another lecturer. The poster was put up by a colleague and advertises a series of lectures he is involved with.
My office at the University of Vechta. The shelves are a bit barren, but then I need most of my books at home for preparation purposes.
The men’s prison JVA Vechta is located directly across the road from the building where I work. This photo was taken from the tea kitchen on the floor where my office is.
A closer look at the barbed wire topping the walls of Vechta men’s prison. The prison is located directly between the university campus, the highschool Gymnasium Antonianum and the St Mary’s hospital. IMO this is a bad location in case of breakouts, but then this is a prison for milder cases. Vechta also has a women’s prison, but that is located elsewhere.
And do you want to know what’s really weird? The ladies toilet on the floor where my office is directly faces the prison. Luckily, the windows are milk glass.