“A visit to Wetzlar”
Wetzlar, Germany. June 2018 (14 photos)
This is Part 1 of my Germany 2018 photo series, and also Part 13 of my Europe 2018 photo series.
After visiting Meteora, I headed off to Greece’s second city, Thessaloniki. The trip took me past Mount Olympus, home of Zeus. In Thessaloniki, I caught a plane on to the final destination of my 7 week sojourn in Europe, Germany. Well actually, Germany was my first destination as well but 5 hours in transit at Frankfurt airport doesn’t really count as a visit, does it? Arriving in Frankfurt I immediately took to the Autobahn and headed off to the historical city of Wetzlar.
“Don’t drink and walk”
This sign was outside a wine garden on the Lahn River where I spent a leisurely hour or so.
Wetzlar is a city located in the state of Hesse, Germany. It is a former free imperial city that owed much of its fame to being the seat of the Imperial Supreme Court (Reichskammergericht) of the Holy Roman Empire. The city is known for its ancient town and its medieval cathedral.
The city’s founding date has up to now never been established or known. There were “Bandkeramiker” settlements right on the western town limits, partly from 5,000 years BC. In the proximity of Wetzlar there are also a few Roman remains, which were constructed during the reign of the emperor Augustus (reigned 27 BC – 14 AD). The name “Wetzlar” had come into being most likely by the 3rd century to the 8th century.
In the early 1900’s, photographers mostly used large format cameras and glass plates. Then in 1914, a man in Wetzlar tested a prototype camera that revolutionised photography by creating a small functional and viable handheld camera that took 35mm movie film. In time, this would become the most popular film format ever.
That man was Oskar Barnack. He was the Director of Research at a company called Leica.
Archive photo from Wikimedia Commons, a freely licensed media file repository.
This is the first 35mm test photo taken by Oskar Barnack in 1914.
How does my first photo in this post taken in homage compare? 🙂
“First Leica picture was taken here 1914 by the inventor and visionary Oskar Barnack”
Naturally enough, I stood there to take my copycat photo. I’d show you the photo taken of me standing there but I know that wouldn’t interest anyone.
Barnack’s camera was the Ur-Leica.
“A warm welcome”
On the outskirts of Wetzlar is Leitz Park, the home of Leica Camera AG. There, I stayed in the photography themed Ernst Leitz Hotel (The Leica Hotel) which opened just a couple of weeks before my arrival. My enormous thanks to senior lens maker, Roland, for conducting a private tour of the Leica Factory including access to areas normally restricted to the public. My sincere gratitude to Mr Stefan Daniel, Leica’s Director of Product Management for the warm welcome and for taking the time to speak with me.
The various buildings have been designed to resemble Leica products.
The architecturally designed internal staircase is a photographer’s delight.
“From Wetzlar to Sydney”
From Wetzlar, I headed into Frankfurt for a few hours of afternoon photography and sightseeing before catching the evening flight to Singapore and then Sydney.
This concludes the chronology of my trip to Europe. Over the next several posts, I’ll revisit cities and countries that constituted my trip.