For more than 800 years, specialized craftsmen have been taking care of the house of prayer. The Cathedral Workshop dates back to this time, one of Germany’s most venerable stonemason studios.
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There is no building more important to the citizens of Freiburg than their Cathedral, the Münster, a priority that is constantly apparent everywhere you look. Locals always gladly donate for the maintenance of their city’s iconic landmark, to help preserve it for generations to come. That’s why you’ll see work being done to restore, clean and maintain the building nearly every day of the year.
From about 1200 to 1536, the workshop was responsible for the construction of Freiburg Cathedral and thereafter for its maintenance and preservation. Working here in the Middle Ages meant you had made it. The master builders and stonemasons were highly respected individuals who – in an era of strict guild regulations – were given free rein in their work. A story goes that a stonemason vented his anger over the underpayment or delayed payment of his wages by adding a very special gargoyle on the south side of the Cathedral, known as the “Hinternentblösser,” which could translate as "Buttocks Flasher". An unclothed human figure with long hair stretches out his naked bottom toward the viewer.
Is there any truth to the legend? The fact is that the master builders and stonemasons could pick and choose their place of work, followed no rules and were the only ones to leave behind their portraits, names and symbols on a building.
The most important prerequisites for working on Freiburg’s Cathedral, both then and now, are precision and attention to detail, which are required of the 15 employees who currently work at the Cathedral Workshop. Since 1911, the stonemasons, stone sculptors and stone technicians have been located in a new building on Schoferstrasse, where they monitor the Cathedral for any signs of damage and plan and carry out restoration measures.
A guided tour lets you take a look behind the scenes. In the Cathedral Workshop Museum, visitors can learn about the challenges faced by the cathedral master builders and marvel up close at gargoyles, sculptures and finials. A visit to the workshop also gives you the opportunity to take a look over the shoulder of a stonemason at work.