Augsburg – Germany And Austria

In ancient times—that is to say, upward of three centuries ago—the city of Augsburg was probably the most populous and consequential in the kingdom of Bavaria. It was the principal residence of the noblesse, and the great mart of commerce. Dukes, barons, nobles of every rank and degree, became domiciled here. A thousand blue and white flags streamed from the tops of castellated mansions, and fluttered along the then almost impregnable ramparts. It was also not less remarkable for the number and splendor of its religious establishments. Here was a cathedral, containing twenty-four chapels; and an abbey or monastery (of Saints Ulric and Afra) which had no rival in Bavaria for the size of its structure and the wealth of its possessions. This latter contained a Library, both of MSS, and printed books, of which the recent work of Braun has luckily preserved a record; and which, but for such record, would have been unknown to after ages. The treasures of this library are now entirely dispersed; and Munich, the capital of Bavaria, is the grand repository of them. Augsburg, in the first instance, was enriched by the dilapidations of numerous monasteries; especially upon the suppression of the order of the Jesuits. The paintings, books, and relics, of every description, of such monasteries as were in the immediate vicinity of this city, were taken away to adorn the town hall, churches, capitals and libraries. Of this collection (of which no inconsiderable portion, both for number and intrinsic value, came from the neighboring monastery of Eichstadt), there has of course been a pruning; and many flowers have been trans-planted to Munich.

The principal church, at the end of the Maximilian Street, is that which once formed the chief ornament of the famous Abbey of Sts. Ulric and Afra. I should think that there is no portion of the present building older than the fourteenth century; while it is evident that the upper part of the tower is of the middle of the sixteenth. It has a nearly globular or mosque-shaped termination–so common in the greater number of the Bavarian churches. It is frequented by congregations both of the Catholic and Protestant persuasion; and it was highly gratifying to see, as I saw, human beings assembled under the same roof, equally occupied in their different forms of adoration, in doing homage to their common Creator.

Augsburg was once distinguished for great learning and piety, as well as for political consequence; and she boasts of a very splendid martyrological roll. At the present day, all is comparatively dull and quiet; but you can not fail to be struck with the magnificence of many of the houses, and the air of importance hence given to the streets; while the paintings upon the outer walls add much to the splendid effect of the whole. The population of Augsburg is supposed to amount to about thirty thousand. In the time of Maximilian and Charles V. it was, I make no doubt, twice as numerous.