Bamberger straben: that’s the holle in bamberg

Bamberger straben: that's the holle in bamberg

Massive sandstone walls, iron bars on the windows, tiny cells. What sounds like a gloomy hollywood blockbuster actually exists. Not in any big city, however, but in the middle of tranquil bamberg – appropriately enough in a small street called "holle. And that's not all: today, the house with the number 7, which was once a prison, is even inhabited.

Beginning of the "hollenangst"

Arne huebscher, who has lived in the house for five and a half years, shows off his home. There doesn't seem to be anything unusual about the property with its idyllic garden. No trace that the first floor of the two-story building used to be a prison.

Built in the 16. Century, it probably served as a "domkapitelsches gefangnis" from 1700 onwards. Only the roof, destroyed by the second world war, had to be renewed in 1948. Otherwise, the house was spared further damage due to its thick walls.

In fact, some original components bear witness to the building's gloomy past, such as centuries-old lattice bars on the windows of the rear wall of the house.
The interior of the house also still contains original elements, such as the massive sandstone walls, a crossbeam vault and a heavy wooden door.

Prison for "non-clergymen

After the building was used for a long time as a "romp and romp house" later it was discovered that it had rather been used as a prison for the adjacent church. This, according to various sources, held "non-clerics" in the house, which was later named "domkapitelsches gefangnis" got. Whether it was limited only to this group of people is not documented.

The detainees were housed in four cells, two of which were no more coarse than today's dining rooms, with bars on the small windows. That people were held in such cramped quarters is an idea that still gives arne huebscher the creeps today. One of the two chambers in which he stores supplies today is closed by a wooden door with a metal bolt.

Bench with iron for anchoring

In addition to these four cells, there is another room that occupies about one third of the basement. Both the furnishings and the type of construction suggest a chapel room: the ceiling is adorned with a stone cruciform vault, and in a niche in the wall, according to the third volume of the book series "stadt bamberg – immunitaten der bergstadt" (city of bamberg – immunities of the mountain city), there were other, gentler churches a bench with iron for anchoring. These are not preserved, however, neither in this nor in the cells. Whether the imprisoned literally went through the holle, can thus only be assumed.

However, there were also other, gentler times: until the second half of the 16. Traces can be traced back to the second half of the sixteenth century, which indicate that there were many artistically active residents. At this time, craftsmen were hired to decorate the churches. Ideally, they were to be quartered in the immediate vicinity. The holle, which not only borders directly on the upper parish, but is also not too far from the other churches, was thus perfect.

Also popular with artists today

It was this artistic past that attracted the painter and real estate agent volker maisel. Seven and a half years ago, the 42-year-old moved into his small house painted light blue with the blue shutters, the red rosebush and the number six on the house wall. "In the 18. In the nineteenth century the glass cutter christoph schulner lived here", betrayal he. In the course of time some artists lived in houses of the holle. Sculptors, carpenters, stonecutters, painters, carpenters, cutlers – the list is long. Today, in addition to maisel, an art dealer, a bamberger symphonist, a painter, an art historian and art dealer, among others, are at home in the holle. Quite a few, considering that only twelve house numbers are assigned in the holle, of which three houses now house vacation apartments.

The gate to hell

Most of the houses are still in their original condition, but the area itself has changed over the centuries. "You have to imagine the surroundings here a little differently", says maisel and adds: "over three centuries the holle has changed a lot." According to maisel, there was a cemetery at the upper parish, and there were many small streets around it; in the middle of the holle stood a fountain. The holle was surrounded by a city wall. "Here ruber to the ice pit", maisel points in the direction of the church "the city wall ran all the way to saint stephan. You can still see parts of it today."

A wall stucco borders almost seamlessly on the back wall of arne huebscher's house. Foundations can also be found at the bus stop kaulberg. There was also a town gate that had given access to the holle.

Behind the city wall, on the side of the church, there was another alley that gave access to a row of houses where the artisans lived. Since they had little money, they furnished their houses instead of paying the rent, according to maisel. This could be the reason for various italian stucco ceilings and other baroque ornaments with which some houses of the holle are decorated.

When the war came to the holle

Of the 16 houses in the holle, only twelve are still standing today. Five buildings have been demolished over the years. At the beginning of the new millennium another new building was added. House bombed in second world war. Four others did not escape unscathed in this attack – but the damage was repaired.

One man who experienced the end of the second world war firsthand was the grandfather of doris metzner's husband. She and her family have lived in house number 17 since 1989. Instead of hiding in the air-raid shelter, he stood in the tower and watched the bombs that were dropped on bamberg in 1945. One struck in the immediate vicinity. "He must have been thrown against the wall", the 58-year-old says, pointing to the wall of the living room behind her.

The old truss also suffered so much from the shock wave that it had to be replaced with masonry. But the post-war renovation was worth it: today, the seventh generation of the family lives in the house, including metzner's children.

"Daddsa" and bone finds

The fact that holle can look back on an interesting past is also proven by the finds that the residents stumble upon during the renovation of their houses.

Doris metzner carefully pulls out three crooked metal nails and a small doll from her living room dresser. She also recalls the discovery of balls of stone and clay "so-called daddsa, that's what they call them in bamberg", paths used by children to play. "We have also found all possible old newspapers. But we cemented it back into the wall – for the next generations."

Less pleasant finds such as bones, which could have come from the former cemetery at the upper parish, were also discovered by other residents on their properties. In addition, four bottles were among metzner's finds. And they were not alone: some of the neighbors also discovered old glass bottles with cork stoppers.

A letter from the holle

Volker maisel also found something while renovating the roof of his house: he was able to identify his fab as a mouth-blown medicine bottle. In addition to smaller finds such as an old songbook, maisel shows what is undoubtedly his most interesting find: under floorboards, he discovered a letter written in sutterlin, dated 28. February 1861. The sender of the letter was a young man who was stationed as a soldier. He told his parents and brothers about his life in the army and asked them to send him money.

Heavenly life in the holle

These exciting finds demonstrate the interesting past of holle, which is definitely worth a closer look. This and the quiet location despite the proximity to the city center inspire the residents even today. Volker maisel describes holle as "an area in the center of bamberg that feels like living in a village where time stands still.

With a "kingdom of heaven in the holle" advertises one of the vacation apartments in the holle. And doris metzner adds: "we like it in holle. We would not like to live anywhere else."

Alina klarmann studied journalism in the summer semester of 2017 "when strabs start to pay off" participated in the otto-friedrich-university of bamberg. In the context of this exercise this straben-portrait was created.

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