Marxzell is a village halfway up the Alb valley, on the way to bad Herrenalb which I have already presented, adn on the same S-Bahn line. In fact it consists of a handful of villages (Marxzell and Frauenalb down in the valley, Burbach, Pfaffenrot and Spielberg up in the hills). Marxzell is not very big, but apart from forests and hiking trails, the community has two major attractions: the car museum and, further up the valley, the ruins of Frauenalb convent.
The name of the village indicates its origins: Marxzell = „Marci cella“. A cella is a dependance of a monastery, with two or three monks who take care of a parish church and its community. Saint Marcus, Mark the Evangelist, indicates a relationship with Reichenau abbey in the early ages. Later on Marxzell was connected with Herrenalb.
The catholic parish church is still dedicated to St Mark. It is the oldest parish church in the Alb valley. The steeple remained of the 14th century church, the nave was substituted by a new and larger one in 1782. The chapel inside the steeple contains the tombstones of the last nuns of Frauenalb who died in the early 19th century when their convent had already been closed down. I would have liked to see the interior but the church was closed, and I could not find any hints about regular opening hours.
Marxzell has some tradition as location of a goat market. Goats are the perfect domestic animals for these rough mountain regions and steep slopes. They were the poor man's cow.
A sculpture opposite the car museum recalls the Marxzell goat market. Farmer and merchant are both dressed in their Sunday best. The object of the trade is a big strong billy goat. The handshake confirms the sale. Both look happy with the result of presumably long and tough haggling about the price.
I guess that nobody has asked the goat’s opinion, I hope he found a good new master...
However, the main attraction of the village is the Car Museum.
No matter if you are a car freak or not - if you like exploring old stuff, or if you are a devoted messie, this museum is absolutely worthwhile. It was begun 40 years ago by a family of private collectors, and is still private property. They collected oldtimer cars and everything that is related to them, no matter how distant.
The collection grew and is still growing. It fills several halls now. Not only tools and parts and petrol pumps and such, but also toys, souvenirs, dishes, automatic musical instruments, trophies, teddy bears, household items... Dressed-up dummies impersonate the owners and users of the cars.
This museum is a jungle. Imagine a couple of halls with as many cars as ever fit in. Then imagine stuff of all varieties from the same era squeezed in between the cars, in the cars, on top of the cars, hanging from the ceiling and on the ground and everywhere. Only a narrow passage in the middle is left for the visitors. Seeing the museum is more like an expedition. You'll discover more details, more little things and more funny settings again and again.
This is the messiest, craziest, and coolest museum I ever saw. It contradicts each and every principle of modern museum design and didactics. It contradicts just about everything I ever learned about exhibitions, how to plan, organize, and present them. But exactly this is why this museum is so much fun to visit!
The cars are roughly sorted by country and company. A side hall is dedicated to agriculture, tractors and tools. The second hall has a large collections of fire engines and even a firefighting helicopter. One room is a workshop (but nobody could work in such a mess). The upstairs gallery shows motorbikes and bicycles.
The museum also includes a small cinema with early 20th century furniture, complete with an old projector and a piano, which shows a movie about old cars at regular intervals.
Another new hall, which enlarged the museum by 600 sqm or 20%, has been opened in 2013; I have not yet seen that new part, though.
Some of the cars are fully functional, the owners can often be seen with them in oldtimer parades in the region.
How to get there: Take the tram S1 and get off at „Marxzell“; from the station it is a walk of 5-10 minutes to the museum.
Opening hours: daily 14.00 - 17.00
Entrance fee: adults 5 €, concessions 3 €
One of their treasures: a 1915 Ford Tin Lizzy
View from the gallery
A car from the museum takes part in an oldtimer parade in Karlsruhe