Pirmasens

Cut off, high up on a hill in the middle of the remote Rhineland-Palatinate (Rhineland-Pfalz in German), Primasens is an oddity of a town. Famous principally as the centre of a, once booming, shoe manufacturing company, the place now feels a little down at heel.

PfalzThis is a town best not approached on a bicycle. I was unfortunate enough to do so, up a never-ending hill from the valley below. It really is high up! And this makes up the bulk of any charm this largely industrial town has. It is high and airy, and laid-out across lots of steep hills. Even the central square is multi-story, with a massive staircase/ornamental waterfall leading up from the town hall to the main church.

Lying in a boarder region, Primasens and the surrounding area was much fought over during the middle-ages, despite being little more than a village until modern times. Only in the 18th century did it start to grow, first as a garrison town and then, principally in the 19th century as a shoe manufacturing centre.

Its ramshackle houses sprawl out over the hilly territory and reminded me a lot of some English towns. Perhaps a more colourful version of a small Northern industrial town. There are lots of three or four story residential terraced houses running down steep hills and decked in pastel coloured plaster. Unlike the pristine facades of Bavaria that I’m used to, much of this was a bit run-down and unkempt.

The town is not old. Mostly constructed from the end of the 19th century onwards. Even the central square, while flanked by older civic buildings was largely made up of glass shopping centres and that ornamental waterfall that cannot be more than 30 years old – maybe a lot younger.

Whatever age it is, the waterfall is an enjoyable central feature, a metal bulls head with enormous horns at the top of it and stairs bending round both sides. It looked great on a sunny evening.

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