Eight questions for...

Dorothea Redeker, director of the board of trustees of the Lorsch World Heritage Site.

When I visit the World Heritage Site of Lorsch, what should I definitely not miss?

The decorative centerpiece of the former Abbey of Lorsch is the gate hall, which many call the King's Hall. It is one of the very few surviving examples of Carolingian architecture and it creates a unique impression, with its ostentatious adornments of red and white sandstone and its three separate porches. You should not miss one of the guided tours, where you can learn a lot about the history of the gate hall and the secrets it only shares with the initiated. It is still unclear whether the gate hall served a religious purpose, was used as a court, or a library. Even the latest scientific studies will probably only be able to approximate an answer to that question.

What do you particularly like here?

I personally like the many unanswered questions about Lorsch Abbey. Much of the former Benedictine abbey has not been preserved, and researchers from different disciplines – architectural researchers, architects, historians, art historians, geologists, geographers – all try to work together to make new discoveries. I find it very exciting to watch researchers take existing opinions about the location, design and function of the building and throw them overboard in favor of more plausible theories. It keeps the history of the abbey lively. From 2014, we will be bringing the supposed original development of the abbey grounds - the landscape design - back to life. That will give us a new insight into the dimensions of the site and its architectural foundations. On top of that, a manor house from the Early Middle Ages, the so-called Lauresham, will become an open-air laboratory for learning about the daily life of our local ancestors.

Do you have an insider tip?

The original Altenmünster abbey also belongs to the Lorsch World Heritage Site. It is situated about one kilometer east of the abbey grounds. At this tranquil site on the River Weschnitz you can really get a feel for how secluded life in Lorsch Abbey was before it flourished and was eventually moved to a flood-proof dune.

What impressed you most during your first visit here?

Architecturally speaking, Lorsch is a modest World Heritage Site. There were few visible traces of the extraordinary history of this place during my first visit in 1986. In that respect, my first visit here was very disillusioning.

Which time of the year is the most attractive here?

I personally like spring the most, when you can survey the blooming landscape of the surrounding area from the abbey grounds.

What else should I see here?

The Lorsch Museum Center not only includes an informative exhibit about the history of the abbey but also a tobacco museum that is well worth seeing. The Old Town Hall in Lorsch is also worth a visit.

Visiting World Heritage Sites means working up an appetite. What regional specialty should I try?

A regional specialty is Welschbrot, a cornbread produced by local bakers in the fall.

And which World Heritage Site would you like to see one day?

I would like to get to visit the Garden of Dessau-Wörlitz. Aside from that, I'm curious about Krakow's Old Town in Poland.

Dorothea Redeker

comes from the Rhineland. After her university studies, she moved to Bonn with her family in 1986.

She has worked as an economic geographer for many years, filling various positions in the publishing and media industries. She has been director of the Lorsch World Heritage Site board of trustees since 2011.



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