Sunday, August 9, 2009

Alley of the Merchant Widows

"Come along already, the alley will be packed soon."
"Right behind you Detmar."

"This is called the Merchant Widow Alley, watch your head on the way in."
"Why is this entrance smaller than me?"
"Well, Matt, we've grown taller throughout the centuries.  The average man back in these days could easily fit through such an entry way."

"You'll notice the tightness of this alley as well, it was common in these times to allow enough space only to walk through since most people didn't have horses or carriages."

"Who are these women dressed in french maid dresses with bonnets? I've never seen an elderly woman move so fast!"

"I just got man-handled by a senior citizen wearing a bonnet."

"These are the widows.  You see, this building was made to take care of the women whose husbands were merchants and died from a work related accident."

"They all just headed over here if the husband perished?"

"Precisely. To this day, the, what would you call it in English, the government of Hamburg allocated these buildlings as a reparation for their husbands service.  In return for the loss of their husbands who provided the income, the widows lived here.  Free of charge.  They were expected to work in these restaurants you see throughout this alley."

"OK, so you're saying it was just like this back in the day?"

"To the last support beam, yes.  Hamburg has taken great efforts to preserve the heritage of these areas and keep them as they once were.  The widows are part of this heritage.  To this day, Hamburg is still one of the leading European cities in merchant tradings."

"Wait. Wait. I'm confused." 
"Who are all of these women dressed like french maid nuns?  Why do they keep pushing me out of the way when I'm backed against the wall already?"

"These are the Merchant Widows."  "Joe, Matt, follow me to the most picturesque spot.  And do take care not to step in the way of the widows, they have to cover a lot of ground because of the extensive patio seating."

"The government still puts up widows and has them work these jobs?"

"Precisely, now look at this view if you will."


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