The Horseradish Museum of Baiersdorf

Map of a cycle route through some Franconian villages. Drawn by me!

Map of a cycle route through some Franconian villages. Drawn by me!

Some people collect stamps – I collect museum tickets. The more eccentric the better. Often the smaller and stranger museums are the ones which the most personal attention has gone in to. They are not designed from the point of view ‘what would people like’ but ‘what would my neighbours like’. B once visited the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb; and a few years back I had the opportunity to see the Icelandic Phallological Museum in Húsávik. The website states it has moved to Reykjavik since; which I find a little sad in a way? Before it was a kind of weird place to find, in a small fishing village; now it is more of a sensationalist tourist attraction anyone with a layover to the US can visit. Then again, I can only applaud increased accessibility to such a treasure, right?

Isn't this an exciting find?! How could you not go in.

Isn’t this an exciting find?! How could you not go in.

So, the other day I was entering ‘local-village-name + museum’ into Google, in an attempt to make weekends more exciting. It took a while, but eventually I had a hit on Baiersdorf. From March till November, on Saturdays and Sundays, they open their Horseradish Museum. Entry is 2 EUR, and comes with a small sample pot of Horseradish puree. What is not to love!

Of course every information sign is in German, and, correct me if I am wrong, but the museum lady looked very surprised to find foreigners coming for a visit. I got to practice a lot of my German vocabulary! Anyway, if you do not speak German, do not let it stop you. There are lots of images and artefacts, plus interactive exhibits, so it is definitely understandable without the language. The first part of the exhibit explains about the way in which horseradishes grow, and horseradish agriculture. Then there was a section with history. It all kind of begins with Schloß Scharfeneck; this magnificent-sounding building was destroyed and re-built 3 times between the 14th and 19th century, before they gave up, and it is now a ruin. Apparently one ‘Johann the Alchemist‘, who lived there, planted the first then-exotic horseradish in the 15th century. It was a massive hit and things kind of exploded from there. By the beginning of the 19th century it was the biggest source of income for the town. There were lots of businesses based around the little root vegetable, but the most successful of them, set up by a man named Schamel, is still going today and of course runs this little museum. Exhibits included a live horseradish field, horseradish grating, and videos with the history of horseradish production. If you were ever wondering anything about horseradishes, this will surely satisfy your curiousity.

Museum Lady was very keen on us leaving a message in the guestbook, and she sounded a little disappointed when I declared I wrote it in English. I really should have had a look at the other entries! Sigh I will cycle back some time. It was basically lunchtime then, so hunger probably blinded my inquisitiveness. I mean we have to go back either way, because I have to find the ruins of Schloß Scharfeneck now. There’s not all that many ruins in the area so cannot leave a good one like that alone!

I did not have the heart (or German vocabulary) to tell the museum lady I really hate horseradish...

I did not have the heart (or German vocabulary) to tell the museum lady I really hate horseradish…

This is one for my museum-ticket-collection.

This is one for my museum-ticket-collection.

The only bits that remain of Schloß Scharfeneck, home of the horseradish.

The only bits that remain of Schloß Scharfeneck, home of the horseradish.

I love seeing bits and bops from the time when my grandparents were growing up. The display also actually smelled like the archive boxes in our attic. You know, Old Dusty scent?

I love seeing bits and bops from the time when my grandparents were growing up. The display also actually smelled like the archive boxes in our attic. You know, Old Dusty scent?

Good old German QWERTZ keyboard!

Good old German QWERTZ keyboard!

This horseradish lady was spinning around as center-piece of the museum...

This horseradish lady was spinning around as center-piece of the museum…

Ah look, there is a horseradish-grating lady too.

Ah look, there is a horseradish-grating lady too.

The museum recommended many (many) horseradish recipes.

The museum recommended many (many) horseradish recipes.

It is literally possible to watch the horseradishes grow. If this is not an immersive museum experience I don't know what is.

It is literally possible to watch the horseradishes grow. If this is not an immersive museum experience I don’t know what is.

Upstairs there was an exhibit with machinery from the horseradish factory.

Upstairs there was an exhibit with machinery from the horseradish factory.

On a side-note: Baiersdorf is one of the bigger villages around here. It has an S-Bahn station. And three supermarkets. And a pharmacy. And a Greek restaurant. And a pizzeria. And supposedly, an ice-cream parlour! Imagine all the summertime fun that can be had there. There are probably a dozen churches there as well (they are really into Christianity in the Bavarian countryside) including a tiny little St. Nicholas church. Being Dutch, he is my favourite Saint of course. The sign on the outside announced that worship of St. Nicholas first began in Baiersdorf in the 12th century. Then there is the usual sequence of building church, getting destroyed, re-building, and so forth. It is still possible to detect some nice Gothic arches though.

All things put together, that is a good itinerary for one small Franconian village. Horseradish Museum, ruins of a grand Schloß, and a Medieval church. Choice between Greek or Italian, or of course one of a handful of excellent bakeries. I still think the Bavarian countryside was a fantastic place to come to write up my PhD thesis, because nothing ever happens and everything is closed on Sundays. But possibly not as boring as it first seems?

Beautiful German fachwerk houses in Baiersdorf < 3

Beautiful German fachwerk houses in Baiersdorf < 3

The crest of Baiersdorf (stuck to a Greek restaurant...?).

The crest of Baiersdorf (stuck to a Greek restaurant…?).

Baiersdorf St. Nicholas church.

Baiersdorf St. Nicholas church.

Interesting German street art...

Interesting German street art…

Cannot go away for the day without an Ostbreze! (Easter pretzel.) (Bought in Edeka and photo taken in Aldi which is when I got hungry. Just to keeping it real.)

Cannot go away for the day without an Ostbreze! (Easter pretzel.) (Bought in Edeka and photo taken in Aldi which is when I got hungry. Just to keeping it real.)

Off-topic: one of the most beautiful houses I have ever seen.

Off-topic: one of the most beautiful houses I have ever seen.

Written by Zen

Qualified archaeologist and inquisitive adventurer. Also cartographer, pixel artist, Latin tutor and music teacher. Interested in affordable street-food and friendly couch-surfing. Originally from Holland, studying in the UK, living in Germany. Always learning a new language.

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