Büdingen, what I’d just visited on other day, is a town in Hesse region, in Germany. It is famous for its well-preserved, heavily fortified medieval city wall and half-timbered houses. The city is situated 40 km east from Frankfurt am Main so that historically, it belongs to Oberhessen.
After visiting the town I can say that Büdingen is perhaps where you’ll find the lost key to understanding a bit about what makes this enigmatic culture tick. It’s not just ticking but reverberating with ancient mysticism and legends intertwined with real history that will soon have you scratching your noggin not knowing where the one ends and the other begins. But patience is the key that unlocks many doors and enchant you with tales that border on the fantastic. Büdingen has tours of all sorts that take you through the historic route or the cultural route or even just the scenic parks and orchards.
To begin with, the Jerusalemer Tor would be a good idea. Explore this 16th century fortification complete with twin towers and all that you’d expect to see in a medieval fort. Your camera will take on a life of its own as you approach the Sand Rose Museum which is where you’ll find sand stone in the shapes of, yes, hold your breath, lovely large roses. Now you’ll have to agree that this is not your old run of the mill historic tour. Gaze at the compelling beauty exuded by architectural delights such as the 16th century museum in Büdingen that takes you back to the 1950s as you view its various artifacts. Then there’s the wonderful Town Hall Heuson Museum, the Steinernes Haus or the Stoned House, a short walk from which will take you to the quaint bridge perched atop which you’ll get some fabulous views of the river. And yes, on this tour you must have noticed the engraving of frogs in most of these buildings. So, what’s the story?
“We are in the year 1522. Count Anton Ysenburg of Büdingen just married Elisabeth von Wiede in her home country and returned to Büdingen with his brand-new wife. The citizens of Büdingen gave them an enthusiastic reception: wedding banners, gates of honor gun salutes and bonfires, maids of honor dressed in white and uniformed riflemen. After the strain of the journey and strenuous welcome ritual, the ceremonial addresses and the substantial banquet in the castle finally the nightly hour came near. Count Anton carried his young bride over the threshold into the room with the oriel where the bed was prepared for a refreshing sleep. While Count Anton was just beginning to fall asleep and to snore, Countess Elisabeth suddenly started hearing the croaking, splashing, and gurgling of hundreds of frogs from the pond near the castle, a wide burrow which surrounds the old moated castle. This concert was very noisy and not necessarily harmonic. Elisabeth couldn’t sleep therefore she woke up Anton: “This croaking, I get my migraine, tomorrow I’m going to be back with my father.” Count Anton: I don’t hear it any longer; I’m used to that since childhood like all citizens of Büdingen. They only awake when the noise stops. Elisabeth: “Never I get used to that! Do something against it or you get rid of me. I’ll annul our marriage; it is not possible for me to consummate our sexual intercourse because of the noise. Now Count Anton got up, rang for the valet, who sent for the tired Council of the Court awaiting subserviently the Count’s resolution.
Yet today the citizens of Büdingen should take care for peace,” Count Anton cried, “and should wipe up and drive out the frogs, whatever. That is my will and order. “So the Bailiff let ring the alarm bell of the town and the citizens only half dressed swarm together, some with crossbows and armor, most of them as “Spiesser” with pick ax and halberd.
Some of the citizens got ladders and fire buckets thinking that a strayed gun salute caused fire. But they could see nothing like this; all was peaceful and calm. They only heard the croaking of the frogs as usual from the castle. Now the mayor appeared and announced the Count’s resolution to the jurors, citizens and the House of Ysenburg and Wied.” Therefore the frogs and toads were for it now. The citizens were obliged to do so, the mayor said. And so it happened. Boys and girls and all youngsters went to the grove equipped with buckets, baskets, catches, fish traps, nets, ropes, hooks, and fails because nobody could know whatever would appear. The frogs squinted and first were astonished because of their citizens of Büdingen seem to be so strange; they never saw this before, Being calmly because of the morning cold they didn’t see any reason for giving up their lying in wait for flies in the morning sun. But then the disaster descend upon them.In a line boys and girls wadded through the borrows. Everything which jiggled was grabbed. Baskets and buckets were filled with green creatures. All these were brought to the Market place and strictly guarded. There was no escape under the police’s supervision. Slowly the croaking got weaker and when the midday sun was on top of the castle tower nothing could be heard any longer. Countess Elisabeth stretched and called for her lady-in-waiting to help her plait her hair before she gave Count Anton an appeasement kiss so that he was beaming with happiness and murmured: “There is relying on my citizens of Büdingen. On the other side of the sound level on the market place became more and more unbearable. The Marketmeister Mörschel could hardly keep the green swarm under control. Something had to be done and the town council went into the inn “Zum Schwanen”-Swan. Something had to be done, but what? How to get to the frogs off their back?“Leave it to the fire brigade,” someone said. “It is much too damp the material for a stake and grilled frogs’ legs are out anyway. “So we need butchers,” the landlord said. But the butchers referred to the Count’s guild rules, which said nothing about frogs. Then there are only left the riflemen they said the around. But the master of the rifle club refused. He argued that the member are only used to target shooting and the crossbow bolts in the defense of the town were counted exactly, and please tell – who should dispose the frogs corps in times when the bio-trash cans not yet introduced? Now the council again retreated to the adjoining room. You really could feel their heads were spinning until they were ready to announce their decision. The mayors of the “Alt-“ and “Neustad” (old and new town) appeared on the market place: “We found an ecologically perfect solution which will not really change our town budget. We will drown the frogs in the river “Seemenbach.” The scales fell from the citizen’s eyes. Why didn’t we come upon that earlier. A wise decision!They sent a massager of the trumpeter to the castle asking the honorable couple most obediently to come in their sedan chair to the Mühlto-bridge and take part in the spectacle. Again baskets, buckets, snap bags, jute bags, were filled and shouldered and everyone took the wriggly contents to the Mühlto-bridge. A short wriggling in the water and one couldn’t see anything anymore. “It works, It works!” the citizens of Büdingen shouted with joy. In the evening the croaking started softly again. This can only be an echo from the few frogs which survived. They drove off course in the direction of Düdelsheim, the mayor and the council claimed. They took down the action as a great success because it isn’t a known fact that Countess Elisabeth never felt disturbed by the frogs again – or maybe she got more and more used and so she became a real citizen of Büdingen. Since those days the citizens of Büdingen at fun-fairs and fairs featuring shooting matches boast to be Germany’s most beautiful town and cleanest of frogs. The people of the neighboring villagers call the people of Büdingen the “Frääsch.” The citizens of Büdingen take it as an honorary title and they are a little bit proud of their action. And the frogs are in a huff since those days but they try to start an appeasement. Now it’s on the citizens. Be a sport”.
The source of the story is from the Büdingen office of tourism