The Masonry of Erlangen

Part Two of our trip to Germany entailed a visit with friends in Erlangen.  A beautiful city in northern Bavaria, Erlangen is home to the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), a large university with about 20,000 students.  The masonry of Erlangen is mainly stone, and much of the city’s architectural heritage was influenced by two important events: the arrival of French huguenot refugees in the late 1680s and a devastating fire in the old part of the city in 1706.  But there are also impressive nineteenth-century masonry structures throughout the city.

One of the most prominent buildings in town, the Erlangen palace (or Markgräfliches Schloss Erlangen), is owned by the university.  The palace was constructed between 1700 and 1704 and was used as a royal residence until 1814 when a fire gutted the building.  It was rebuilt by the university in the early 1820s.  The schloss faces the city’s market square and backs upon the schlossgarten, a public park.  Because Erlangen’s Christkindlmarkt was in the process of being erected, I wasn’t able to get a clear view of the front of the building, but its back is stately.


The building is made of a handsome pinkish-gray sandstone, which you can see in the photo below.


Another prominent building in Erlangen is the Hugenottenkirche, or the Huguenot Church.  It was built between 1686 and 1693 as a congregation for the huguenot settlers to Erlangen.  (The tower was added to the main church in the 1730s.)  The Huguenot Church was the centerpiece of the “new city” built by the huguenots to the south of the original city center.  The architect of the new city and the Huguenot Church was Johann Moritz Richter, the crown prince’s master planner and master builder.


Both the main part of the church and the tower were built using the same pinkish-gray sandstone that was used on the schloss.  This stone which must be native to the Erlangen area, as you see it on buildings all over town.  In addition, the tower has subtle baroque details, which is the predominant style of the new city’s architecture.


There are also a large number of late-eighteenth and nineteenth-century buildings in Erlangen, including these two buildings facing each other on Nürnbergerstraße near Güterhallenstraße.


The brick and sandstone building above houses a hotel and brasserie, and has wonderful polychrome brick details.


It faces an older limestone building with a richly-ornamented gable, a tower with a turret, and beautifully carved stone quoins.


But there is one thing you might not be able to see through the trees.  A knight carved into a niche at the corner, complete with a stone shield and a bronze jousting pole.


I was really curious what this building could be used for.  Our friends informed us it’s just another fraternity associated with the university.  I have seen some beautiful fraternity houses on American college campuses (and some horrid ones), but never a building this impressive or in such good condition.

Because we are on the topic of fraternities, it seems only fitting to finish our brief tour of Erlangen with an historic brewery.


The Erich Bräu building was built in 1870 on the Aldstädter Kirchenplatz in the old city.  In the late nineteenth century, Erich Bräu was the largest exporter of beer in Erlangen.  The brewery itself dates to the early 1700s, but it was purchased by Franz Erich in the mid-nineteenth century.  During his tenure, Franz Erich modernized the brewery and erected several new buildings along Aldtstädter Kirchenplatz, including this one.  This website has a brief history of Erich Bräu, as well as several historic drawings and photos of the brewery in Erlangen.  (All websites cited here are in German, but can be translated using Google Translate.)

Next time you visit Germany, be sure to spend a day in the charming city of Erlangen.  There are plenty of beautiful historic buildings, an impressive botanical garden run by the university, and lots of delicious food and drink.  I also hear there is a great beer festival every spring that rivals the more famous Oktoberfest in Munich.