peeks at the world through my lens

Archive for April, 2016

Oepfelchammer, Zürich

LettersOldest, originally preserved wine tavern in Zürich.

The original building was built in 1357 as a patrician house (noble medieval citizen), and didn’t see commercial activity until the 17th century, when a bakery was built. Various families operated bakeries there until 1801, when baker Hans Kaspar Denzl got a pub-license and added this wine tavern.

The tavern soon became a hotspot for intellectuals, poets, craftsmen, city officials, artists, and students to meet and discuss politics and religion during all night wine-fueled animated debates. This was once a haunt of Gottfried Keller, a 19th-century novelist and poet and one of Zurich’s most famous names.

House rules state that if you are able to climb into the rafters, span two rafters, and, while hanging upside down, can drink a glass of wine without spilling a drop, then you too may carve your initials into the rafters. I haven’t tried (yet).



Dusk and Reflections on Lake Hallstatt

HallstattDusk Lake Hallstatt, Austria

This is my parting shot of my series on the charming and photogenic village of Hallstatt,  Austria. There is no more tranquil and idyllic setting to share good times (and cold beers) with lifelong best friends!



Bone House of Hallstatt, Austria


Painted Skulls

Behind the 12th-century St. Micheal’s Chapel small cemetery is the Hallstatt Beinhaus (Bonehouse). A small building, it is tightly stacked with over 1,200 skulls. In the 1700s, the church began digging up corpses to make way for the newly dead. The graveyard is too small and can hold only a limited number of graves. Therefore, to make room for newly deceased, the bodies of long dead are exhumed and their skulls are stored in the Bone House. Their graves are then available for new burials.

Once the skeletons were exhumed and properly bleached in the sun, the family members would stack the bones next to their nearest kin. In 1720, a tradition began of painting the skulls with symbolic decorations (laurels for valor, roses for love, etc), as well as dates of birth and death so that the dead would be remembered, even if they no longer had a grave.

The church now allows for cremation.

Hallstatt Austria from the Salt Mines

SaltminepanoramaAlpine Panorama

This is the breathtaking view of Hallstatt, Lake Hallstatt, and the surrounding Austrian Alps as seen from the nearby entrance to the oldest salt mines in the world. From this view it is easy to understand why before 1900 Hallstatt, one of the first regions of human settlement, was only accessible by boat or narrow trail.