One of the exhibits at the Municipal Museum in Medias is a collection of historic paintings depicting the city as it was in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Not all of them are on display due to a lack of exhibit space, but the ones that can be seen are worth your while.
You’ll see the Steingasse tower below, built and maintained by the stoneworkers’ guild. Nowadays, there’s a cobbler’s shop to the left of the tower, which has been there for decades. And behind the tower, you’ll see shop windows for a grocery store that’s also been there for decades. Sadly, the store looks terrible today, but when I was young, I used to go there often to buy things for my grandmother’s kitchen.
The gate you see in this painting no longer stands today. The tower you see behind the gate still stands though. You can see weeds growing on the roof of the gate, even in the early 19th century, which means it wasn’t well maintained even then. And if you look through it, you’ll see a fairytale countryside road that led away to neighboring villages through a forest. That’s no longer there today. Now there’s a big, ugly hospital building there, and beyond it, the city’s expanded for kilometers.
The scene you see below no longer exists today. Railroad tracks cross over the sites of those homes, and the hill behind them is now dotted with thousands of graves, as it’s become the official cemetery of the city.
The tower you see here, Forkesch, still stands today, but the historical fortified wall which once connected it with the tower in the second painting seen above, has been rebuilt. That tower can’t be seen below, but it’s somewhere down in the valley. The wall also can’t be seen, because it had been torn down by the mid-19th century when this painting was made. The road is still in the same place, but instead of houses, a large church stands across the road from the tower, and the city’s hospital is just below, in the valley.
Now this isn’t a painting, I know that, but it is very interesting nonetheless. It’s a model of the city as it was sometime in the 16th or 17th century, and it can also be found at the museum.
As you can see, St. Margaret’s Church was originally surrounded by three rows of walls and a large moat, with covered bridges functioning as entrances into the inner walls. It’s a pity it no longer looks like that nowadays, because it would be a truly romantic place if it did.
I invite you to go see the model in person, as it’s a great deal larger than what you see here. The details are wonderful. You can see how each house looked (approximately), its location, and the layout of each street. And if you’re a mason, and you know about the city’s new tourism campaign, then you’ll appreciate a closer study of the city’s layout, which, according to some, replicates the search for light found in masonic rituals.