Freudenstadt was founded in 1599 by Duke Friedrich I. of Württemberg who planned to build his new residence here on top of the Black Forest heights. His architect Heinrich Schickhardt designed a geometrical ground plan which is still visible in today's town map.
The square central marketplace is surrounded by parallel streets with rows of uniform houses. In the middle of the square the duke's palace was intended to be built - which was not carried out due to political changes a and the failure of Friedrich's attempt to extend his territory further West.
Freudenstadt was heavily affected by World War II air raids. The reconstruction after the war followed the original plan but changed some details in the appearance of the houses.
The huge central market square has the size of 220 x 220 m. The public buildings of the town - church, town hall, hospital and store - were positioned in the four corners. Two of these are preserved in post-war reconstructions, the church and the so-called Schickhardbau, the former town hall. The houses along the sides of the square have uniform facades with arcades, here you'll find shops and cafes. The original gables facing the square have been abandoned in the post-war reconstruction.
The wide square contains three historical fountains, parks, playgrounds, monuments and some newer buildings and is unfortunately cut in halves by the modern street that passes through.
The new town hall in a corner of the market square is a post-war addition, it was planned by the municipal architect Ludwig Schweizer and erected after 1948 during the post-war reconstruction of the city.
On hot summer days, kids love playing in the new fountain.
Stadtkirche: The L-Shaped Church
The parish church of Freudenstadt is a unique example of protestant church architecture. Built around one corner of the market square, the building consists of two identical wings that meet at a right angle. Altar and pulpit are located in the outward corner so that they are visible from both wings. Since there is no eye contact from one wing to the other, one wing was used by the men, the other by the women.
This L-shape is very rare in church architecture - I know of one more example in Saxony (Ruhla) and one in Switzerland.
The church was erected in 1601-1608 by Heinrich Schickhardt as part of the general plan for the new residential town. It was heavily damaged in World War II and rebuilt with a simplified and slightly modified interior. The facades and the two steeples conform to the original shape.
The church contains a remarkable work of art that is much older than the church itself: the Romanesque Freudenstadt Lectern. The wooden lectern is dated around 1150 and originates from the abbey church in either Alpirsbach or Hirsau. Duke Friedrich had it brought to Freudenstadt to equip the court and parish church of his new residence.
Figures of the four evangelists carry the actual lectern, which bears depictions of their four symbolic creatures on the sides: the lion for Mark, the bull for Luke, the eagle for John, the winged man or angel for Matthew.
This old woodcarving is extremely sensitive to changes in temperature and, even more, humidity. To protect it, it got a specially made, air conditioned glass cabinet. The cabinet, however, has been shaped like a lectern with an inclined top so that the piece is still in use for the lectures during church service.