Chronicle - Osnabrücks oldest hotel

... the hotel "Walhalla" is situated in the core of the old town of Osnabrück, right opposite the Town Hall, the Curch St. Mary, the City Scales and the stair-gabled houses at the market place.

 Its front premises use the gorgeous baroque half-timbered construction which the court steward Gerdt Heindrich Meuschen had built in 1690 in Bierstrasse 24.

 The hotel received the name "Walhalla" from one of his later owners. Before that it was called „Ratsschänke“. Walhall, in the German mythology, was the place of residence of Wodan, a heroic paradise where the Valky’s fighters gathered for heavenly banquets. Bierstrasse owes its name to the many brewers who had been settling there since the Middle Ages. There was also the Gruthaus of the city. Grut was the mixture of herbs that was added to the beer “Grüsing” brewed in Osnabrück at that time.

 However, the herbal beer did not appeal to the papal delegate Fabius Chigi (the later pope Alexander VII) who participated in the Westphalian peace congress from 1643 to 1648. He exclaimed:

 
„Adde porum sulphuris, et erit polus infernalis"
Add some sulphur and it will be the hell’s drink.

 

At the end of the 17th century the old bishop's and Hanseatic city of Osnabrück was still completely protected by the fortress walls of its medieval territory, controlled from the high rising towers of the cathedral St. Peter and St. Mary's church, from St. Katherine's and St. John's church. The road system with its bends and corners was nestled into the oval of the medieval city fortification, with its military pile works and gates, bastions and embankments, the Old and New Town surrounded by Heger Tor, Bucksturm, Natruper Tor, Vitischanze, Hasetor, Herrenteichstor and others, partly double gates. Apart from the river Hase on the east side the wide city moat provided additional protection in the west. The big number of the chapels and convents, evidence of the devout bishop city in which since 1521 the reformation had arrived, was striking. About 6000 to 7000 people were living in Osnabrück at that time. The city had an area of 145 hectares. However, the whole urban life still was taking place within the medieval city walls. At that time half-timbered houses with wood planks and stables, dominated the picture of the streets and squares. The alleys of the Old and New Town were narrow and paved with slabs or round stones, so-called "cobble stones", which were set rather badly than in a good order. Partly long spillways carried the often substantial rainfall from the houses' roofs into the gutters in the midst of the streets. The waste gathered under the wooden stands, on which the shutters of the houses rested and from where goods were offered for sale. Dunghills and wooden stocks created an oppressive narrowness.

 

The oldest part of the town and the new town still had independent administration with their own town halls, own mayors and councillors. There were still no pavements, no house numbers and also no road lighting. Every citizen who went out in the evening had to carry a lantern. Distinguished ladies and men were escorted back to their homes by lantern porters. The "Good old time" was far from an idyll. In the Bierstrasse, called Vorzeigestrasse until the Second World War, gorgeous half-timbered houses told about the prosperity of its inhabitants who were mainly merchants. The most prosperous trades were the canvas and the cloth trade. At that time in the streets of the old town wagons loaded with leash pulled by horses and oxen were headed to the market place. The quality of the linen was checked by the Leggemeister and his assistants in the Legge and Akzise house, established in the years 1619 to 1622, the two most splendid Renaissance constructions. It was then laid and later received the popular Osnabrück’s Legge stamp. Osnabrück’s linen was valued all over the world.

 With the renovation of the Heger Tor quarter in the years 1974 to 1976 a new period of bloom of the Old Town of Osnabrück began. Not only were the houses renovated and the Old Town was freshly cleaned, but there also originated a very lively city quarter with comfortable restaurants and Old Town bars, with classic art shops and fashion boutiques, art dealer's shops and galleries. Also a new era began for the "Walhalla" when in 1985 the businessman Günter David bought the houses in Bierstrasse 24 and in the Kleine Gildewart 12, a former shed of the house in Bierstrasse.

Read more: Destruction & Reconstruction

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