Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bad Homburg, Germany

The wealthy spa town of Bad Homburg (population 52,000) lies 15 miles north of Frankfurt. I mention Bad Homburg being well-to-do as I've read several articles saying it's so. Why? Many of Frankfurt's bankers live here and it's reportedly the wealthiest town in Germany.  But, first I have to check out the castle commanding the town's high ground. This is the outer entrance.
This is a closer view of the entrance and it's always fascinating to see the coat of arms and all the other items done to impress a visitor.
Same entrance but a closer view. Note the second entrance in the background and the mean-looking animals/monsters at the bottom.
 Here's an even closer view of these menacing-looking beasts guarding the entrance.
 In the second courtyard a man (surely royalty) is shown on a horse atop the entryway.
Here's something you normally don't see in a castle: a watch tower inside an inner courtyard.
 This elongated motor scooter sits outside the castle walls. The artist is Stefan Rohrer and it's called. "Blue Bird".
 I like it.
Formal gardens at the castle.
This life-size, realistic-looking guy standing in Bad Homburg's main park in town is actually made of bronze. Sean Henry is the artist and the piece is called "The Wanderer".
Bad Homburg was put on the map back in 1888 when Kaiser Wilhelm II announced it would be an imperial summer residence. This is the spa complex. Unfortunately the impressive entrance is covered by a stage being set-up for summer concerts.
Back in 1996 I was in Bad Homburg to visit Altana, a chemical company. I received a real crummy reception. Here's the story I wrote about that visit:
Altana AG
Altana, a pharmaceutical and chemical company with revenues in 1995 of 2 billion DM and over 10,000 employees, makes my list of tacky companies. Probably built in the 1960's, the two-story unmarked building sits on the outskirts of Bad Homburg, a pleasant resort-like town about 10 miles north of Frankfurt. With it's black pyramid-shaped roof, the building reminds me of a pagoda. It's on a dead-end road in a residential area and heavy hedges shroud it. A large cornfield butts up to one side.

Entering the lobby, I find the two receptionist friendly and even more friendly when I tell them about my quirky bicycle trek. There's a four-foot by four-foot oil painting of someone but there's no plaque saying who it is. Ditto for the bronze busts of two men.

The one receptionist calls up CEO Klaus Schweikart's secretary. She hangs up and says she's been instructed by Schweikart's secretary to tell me, "we don't want anything to do with you". "Wow that's odd, did they receive my advance material?", I ask. "Yes", the receptionist replies. Of course now the attitude of the receptionists changes and I'm treated like a leper. I ask if they could identify the bronze busts and who's the person in the large oil painting. Stone silence. I ask for an annual report and am initially told I can't have one. After some haggling they relent. They also give me the name of Lang Mareanna, as being the name of the CEO's secretary. The way things were going I'm not quite sure if they were being truthful. As I explained to the receptionists, "I've made my way halfway around the world to visit you and though I'm disappointed you don't want anything to do with me, that's the way it goes sometimes. I'd like to get the name of the CEO's secretary for my notes so I can say I physically stopped by your offices but was told you weren't interested in meeting with me."
Thumbing through the annual report I spot a picture of one of the bronze busts. It's of Herbert Quandt (1910-1982), who founded the company. The accompanying article says he "was committed to social politics to a high degree" Hmm, I wonder if he would have approved of the treatment I received.

Anyway, back to the present. I'm cycling around Bad Homburg checking out really nice residential areas when by chance I come upon this modern complex of office buildings. I recognize the dated building across the street with the pyramid roof as Altana's former office. These newer buildings (shown in the previous photo) weren't here back in 1996. Since that time I learned quite a bit about the company. Ever hear of the Quandt family?  Besides owning Altana, the family has its hands in a slew of companies--including being the controlling shareholder in car maker BMW. The family's worth has been estimated to be over $32 BILLION dollars. The Quandts are known for being extremely publicity-shy.
It's Sunday morning and no one is around so, I walk up and peer through the lobby window of one of the Altana buildings. To my astonishment I see this cap-wearing slob of a guy with his shoes off sitting on the floor and he's propped up against a purple duffelbag drinking a bottle of Coke. Could this be the security guard? *See the figure behind the green bush.
I look through the window again and realize this guy is a piece of art!

1 comment:

  1. Good sharp pictures. I can see your reflection on the last one.

    Now I don't have to visit Bad Hornburg on my next visit to Germany.