Snapshots from Bavaria, May 2023

I’m in southern Germany for a few weeks to visit family. I don’t have any plans to travel within Germany, instead sticking close to the Nuremberg area. The weather has been a mix of overcast skies, rain, and brief interludes of sunshine. I haven’t done any “real” photography with my big DSLR, but I carry my phone everywhere I go so I can grab quick snapshots of whatever catches my eye.

There’s no theme to the photos below, but you may notice one thing: It’s so green here! California has been plenty green this winter because of all the rain, but not like this.

But I want to start off with another color. The countryside around Nuremberg is dotted with expanses of yellow. These are field of rapeseed, grown on a commercial scale for the production of oil (canola oil is a food-grade version of rapeseed oil originally developed in Canada).

Rapeseed field

Blaze of yellow through the trees

Now for a blast of green:

Not that I’ve ever been wanted to be a cow, but if I did, I think I’d like to live here

Lilac everywhere—white, light purple, and dark purple

I’d never seen this lilac variety before, but the FB hive mind told me it’s an old cultivar called ‘Sensation’

‘Sensation’ lilac (Syringa vulgaris ‘Sensation’)

Even dandelions look pretty

Yet another squall moving in

European horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Horse chestnut inflorescences are strikingly intricate, each flower resembling a miniature orchid

I’ve been photographing the old farmhouse across the street from my mother’s house at different times of day:

Facebook friends were wondering if it’s an apartment or office building. Far from it, it’s a single-family home. The three-story attic was used to dry and store hops when this area was still a prime hop-growing region (into the 1970s).

In the photos above, see the platform on top of the house? That’s a nesting platform for storks. And for the first time, there actually is a pair of storks nesting. I’ve been watching them for days:

More picturesque houses and barns in villages nearby:

The village church up the street from my mother’s house:

It was originally built in the 14th century from limestone rubble and baroqueized in 1776/77. The church tower and nave were renovated in 2009-2013.

Some photos of Hersbruck, the town where my family still lives:

View of Hersbruck

City Hall and Upper Market Square

In the Middle Ages and beyond, a fortified wall surrounded the entire town center. Today, only a small section is left.

Spitaltor, originally built in 1425. It’s one of three towers in the fortified wall. The only way to get into town was through the gates in these three towers. Today, only fragments of the wall remain, but the three towers are still standing.

Looking through the Spitaltor gate

The Spitalkirche, originally a small chapel built in 1406 for the adjacent hospital. It was recently renovated, replastered, and repainted. Personally, I think Barbie pink is a terrible color for a church. Apparently the church was that color in the mid-1500s. How anybody would know that escapes me, considering paintings from that time would have been a rough approximation at best. The worst thing, however, are the painted white lines that mimic the mortar between the original sandstone blocks. The paint job is a massive fail; everybody I talked to hates it.

Built in 1444, the Nürnberger Tor is the second-oldest tower in the medieval wall

The third tower is the Wassertor, built in 1602. Notice the stork nesting platform on the roof.


Located next to the Wassertor, this small house was built in 1690. This is where out-of-towners wanting to enter the town center through the fortified wall had to pay a toll. The money was used to maintain the cobblestone streets.

Traditional half-timbered houses

Wassertor and half-timbered houses along the River Pegnitz

Massive weeping willow touching the water

Typical houses near the city center

One of the most striking building in the town center; there's a pharmacy at ground level and apartments above

Street in the town center

I doubt acid green is a “historical” color, but I could be dead wrong. The peaks that stick out from the roof were for rope-and-pulley systems used to haul grain up to the attic for storage.

Schloss Hersbruck, built in 1557 on the foundations of a fortified castle. It served as the seat of the burgrave, the local representative of the emperor. Today, it houses the district court.

Wider view of Schloss Hersbruck

Seeing how a map is worth 1000 words, here's one of Germany to show you where Hersbruck is located:

Map for orientation

If you enjoyed these photos, also check out my post about Nuremberg.

© Gerhard Bock, 2023. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. Town layouts and house architecture and so very different there than in North America. A lot more charming in modern times as there are fewer raiders and conquerors to defend against. It's interesting how there is no 'property' around the house. You just walk out into the street from the front door. Enjoy your visit.

  2. Thanks for the virtual international trip! All the beauty without the jet lag :-D
    The sweeping view of the Rapeseed field is breath taking as are the tranquil green rolling hills.
    I get a little disoriented when I look at structures that are hundreds of years old... cobble stones streets that folks walked on almost 600 years ago, attics where hops were stored... by the way, how's the local beer?

  3. Judging by how steep the roofs are, I take it that there's a lot of snow in the winter?

  4. I love a good travelogue! I've enjoyed many of these photos on FB, but it's great to see them all collected here. To me the stork nesting platforms sum up the different attitudes between our cultures. Wildlife being invited on to your home? Not gonna happen on most of the homes in the U.S.

  5. Thank you so much for this post, Gerhard! I probably will not get to Germany again so I am just thrilled to have your travelogue! I am pretty stressed right now and seeing this lovely town and the green surroundings really have helped me relax!

  6. History around every corner! That's not something you can find in many parts of the US. I hope you're enjoying your trip. I love the stork platforms - it's wonderful to see people accepting birds as bonafide members of their community. The expanses of yellow rapeseed reminds me of the mustard weed that covers the hills in SoCal.

  7. Utterly beautiful ! Thanks for letting us "visit" along with you.

  8. Really interesting. Thanks for the tour. The Stork platform, how cool! There was a Nature (I think) doc about how the Storks fly up from their winter home in Africa to nest--in the same nest every year for several years--quite amazing birds. The western migration they cross at Gibraltar and it is difficult for them to get over the ocean so they go the shortest way across.

    The land yes so green. It's never that green here, there's always some brown mixed in.

  9. Definitely one of the top things I miss here on the West Coast are lush green summers. I remember seeing fields of rapeseed around Uppsala, Sweden. They will always remind me of summertime in Europe. Beautiful area and town.

  10. I am way behind with my comment, as I just now discovered your blog. You made me both nostalgic (technically I am your North-ish/East border neighbor) looking at the greenery and freshness of everything in Germany. I miss this here in the Bay Area, other than during the rainy season. You also made me laugh...I am referring to your comment about cows. Not too shabby for their living "quarters;" I think they got it better than "our" cows. Your trip to EU is over, but I still want to say thank you for nice reflective pictures. (Monique)


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