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Germany - Bavaria

Waldsassen

A Karen Brown Recommendation
The small town of Waldsassen, snuggled right on the border of the Czech Republic, is not well known, but has a beautiful church (Stiftsbasilika) and, next to it, an incredible library (Bibliothek), which is so spectacular that it is worth making a special effort to see. As you drive into Waldsassen, follow signs to the Stiftsbasilika, located in the heart of town. The façade of the church looks rather sedate with square twin towers, topped by onion-like domes, framing the entrance. Inside the church (whose origin dates back to the 12th century), the mood changes completely. The interior is like an opulent wedding cake. Its white walls and ceiling are richly adorned with baroque stuccowork and its ceiling is highlighted by fine frescos. Also, notice the beautiful woodcarvings throughout the church, especially those on the choir stalls.Although the Stiftsbasilika is very interesting, if you have time to see only one sight in Waldsassen, choose the Bibliothek, which is located near the church—you can see many splendid churches throughout Germany, but this library is one of a kind. Buy your ticket on the ground level and then take the staircase up to the library. Before you enter you are given a pair of giant slippers to put on over your shoes to protect the delicate inlaid floor. The library has a balcony that wraps around the upper level of the room. What is so astounding is not so much the beautifully bound, antique books that line the walls from floor to ceiling, but the artwork—the wood carvings, all done by local artists, are remarkable. The room is totally made of wood, and every inch is carved—from the shelves to the balustrades. Most extraordinary of all are the ten, life-size statues supporting the upper gallery, which depict with humor the ten guilds responsible for the production of a book—from the man who brings rags for the cloth to the smug bookseller who sells the finished product. You cannot help smiling and being enchanted by the craftsmanship and humor of this elaborate library. (10–11:30 am and 2–4:45 pm, closed Monday mornings.)
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