Sunday, July 18, 2010

I went sailing today!

Well, no, I didn't, but "I went to Marga and took some pictures of Art Nouveau architecture!" doesn't sound nearly as exciting and glamorous as sailing. Sailing smacks of having a special striped sailing shirt, boat shoes and a cool anchor tattoo, none of which I have. SK and W were sailing with a friend on Senftenberg Lake, while I took F and walked along the lake about 4 kilometers to Marga, a little suburb built in a circular arrangement in the early 20th century to house the many miners that were needed in the area at the time.

Senftenberg Lake, like the other many lakes in Lower Lusatia, used to be a giant strip mine, but after the mining was all finished, it was decided to flood the mine and make a lake. I like that attitude: take a raped piece of nature and make something nice out of it! Not only is it a lake, but it is all public property surrounding the lake, meaning you can bike on good trails, camp at campgrounds, go for an ice cream, or play at one of the many playgrounds. Or you can sail or do whatever else it is that one does on water (as long as you don’t go to fast, there is a pretty low speed limit).

Back in the early 20th century is when this all began. At that time, the strip mining was becoming big business, and there just weren’t enough people around to fill all of the jobs. People were brought in from the surrounding states as well as countries to the east of Germany. They all needed a place to live, and so Marga was built. This was built as a suburb of Senftenberg, today it is more or less a part of the town. It was designed by a Dresden architect in a circular formation. When you see it in an aerial view, the town looks like a circle, with a ring of trees surrounding it and the market square and church in the center. The residential houses surround this. Historically it is interesting, because a lot of American suburbs were built following the model of this workers’ neighborhood. It really does feel like a suburb, it has everything one needs for daily life in a central place, and the houses are all on quiet little streets, they all have yards and fences, and the streets are curved so that you lose your orientation pretty easily.

A view across the market square in Marga

The thing that really blew me away about this little suburb, however, is that it was completely unified in style, and that style was my absolute favorite architectural style right now, Art Nouveau. Just for kicks yesterday evening while we were planning our trip for today I was trying to think of what I could do in town while the guys were sailing, so I searched for “Art Nouveau Senftenberg” and my good friend Google pointed me in the direction of Marga. This was more than I could have possibly hoped for!

The bakery. I like the wooden elements, often seen on country style Art Nouveau buildings.

The post office, clearly marked by the post horn on the roof.

The restaurant Kaiserkrone, which doesn't look like it's in business.

There were lots of little mining details worked in to the buildings, like this on a doorframe on the Kaiserkrone: "Gl├╝ck auf!" is the typical miner's greeting, meaning so much as "May luck be with you and bring you back up safely!"

Also on the Kaiserkrone: fantastic stained glass windows. These may even be original, the window frames themselves certainly looked to be original.

The parsonage. This was one of my favorite residential houses in Marga. It was next to the church. The outside of the church was pretty reserved, and unfortunately I didn't have a look inside since there was a service starting just as I was walking past.

Walking back into the center of Senftenberg I also happened past some pretty neat residential houses in the Art Nouveau style. Here in Dresden the Art Nouveau houses have a lot of rounded, smooth, sleek, incredibly graceful decorative elements, and in Senftenberg there were a lot of slightly more boxy elements with more grooves and almost Aztec-looking (at least to me) designs.

This house made my little Art Nouveau loving heart skip a beat. Look at those window frames!

The intertwined roses!

The details of and around the door!

And just one more, this was by the market square in Senftenberg. I almost missed this elephant up at the top of the facade of this house, but then I saw him and was just tickled pink. The guys had fun sailing, I had a great time on my little architectural safari, and at the end we all got together and grilled in our garden. All in all, a great day.

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