There is something quite charming about water fountains. I remember that in the city in India where I spent a lot of my life growing up, there used to be a huge fountain, at a roundabout in the center of the city, that used to be lit up with colorful lights in the evenings. While driving past it with open windows, it was lovely to get a nice cool breeze on your face on warm summer evenings. In fact, the whole city had many beautiful parks with ponds and fountains, where people would go in the evenings with their families and get some respite from the summer heat. Now, unfortunately, you see more concrete than greenery.
Coming back to the present, I love the kind of fountains strewn across the small towns and big cities in Europe with interesting sculptures on them. And sometimes I also get to know the stories behind!
So let me show you some of the fountains I found in the lovely city of Aachen in Germany, and tell you some stories along the way.
The first one in my list is the Chicken Thief Fountain – right at the entrance of the erstwhile Chicken Market in Aachen. There is no chicken market anymore but the statue survives. The story goes that there was a chicken thief who was the headache for a lot of chicken sellers. But one day, he caught a cockerel instead of a chicken. And what do cockerels do? They crow! And that crow marked the end of the chicken thief’s career..
Kreislauf des Geldes
Second one on the list is about the cycle/circulation of money. Since I didn’t think I would be writing this post when I was AT the fountain, I didn’t capture all of the scene. But this part that you can see in the picture below resonated most with the life experience. So there’s this woman, representing the working class, who is giving part of her income, probably as tax to the man representing the administration. But then you see behind-the-hand dealing of this man with another man. So the worker’s hard earned money is not making her any richer but filling someone else’s coffers! Rings a bell?
On the other side of the pool, there is a man with an outstretched arm who wants to get hold of the money that’s in the center of the pool but out of his reach. As far as I understood, he is representing greed.
Now this one is interesting. This one is shows a fictitious monster – Bahkauv. The story goes that at some time long ago in Aachen, men often went home empty handed after work and told their wives that this monster used to sit on their shoulders and didn’t get off until they gave away all their money to it. The more plausible story is that they lost their money at the bar drinking and gambling. Nonetheless, a guard claimed that he has seen that monster and thus corroborated the story of the men. So people asked him to protect them from the monster. He gladly agreed to do that for a fee. But even after that appointment, every time the attack happened, he would arrive on the scene after the monster had left. One night, the monster struck someone who was probably not fully drunk. Big mistake! The man was strong, being a blacksmith hammering away all day, beat up the monster nicely. And then everyone found out that it was that guard who used to disguise himself as that monster and rob the people who were so drunk that they couldn’t make out if it was a monster or a man disguised as one!
The fountain of dolls, seemed to me to be the one which showed the history of Aachen. Starting from the top – the rooster represents the friendship of Aacheners with the French (The Gallic Rooster is the unofficial symbol of France). Then you see a horseman. That represents the equestrian tradition of Aachen. Since early 1900’s, every year in summer, there is a World Equestrian Festival held in Aachen which attracts thousands of people to the city. It is considered to be the “Wimbeldon of equestrian sport”!
Then further down, you can see a joker on the left and some masks. They represent the Carnival tradition. Although, today nearby Cologne is known more for the Karneval/Carnival/Fasching tradition than Aachen. But it seems Aachen is not behind in that :-).
Now take a look at the other side of the fountain. Here you see a man seated on a chair in the center. He represents the Bishop, hence the importance of the Aachen church. Then on his left is a working woman, representing the different markets that used to be there in Aachen. Now they don’t exist but they are immortalized in the street names which still bear the name of the markets held there! The girl on the right dressed in nice clothes, represents the Textile industry. And the rightmost man, is a professor, representing the Sciences, in turn the Aachen technical university.
And how can I leave Elisenbrunnen behind. This is quite a monument. It was completely destroyed in WWII. So what you see is a replica of the original. It contains two small fountains inside (you can see one below) which are actually outlets for the hot spring water, for which Aachen is well known. It is supposed to have medicinal properties that can cure everything! So much so, that some students who have not studied all semester for their exams, have been seen to come on the morning of their exam and dunk their heads in the basin water and get enlightened to ace the test ;-).
I hope you enjoyed the tour of Aachen through its fountains. I hope to conclude the Aachen stories with the next post. Let’s see if only one more post would be sufficient :-).