Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rizal in Schaffhausen, Switzerland

José P. Rizal






Coat of arms of  Schaffhausen
Located at the northern tip of Switzerland, bordering Germany, Schaffhausen is one of the charming cities in the alpine nation. It is also the capital of the state or canton with the same name; Schaffhausen. The city is known for its Renaissance era buildings decorated with exterior frescoes and sculpture. In the old section of the city, one can  find the historic fort, the Munot. In the Middle ages Schaffhausen was as a city states  enjoying  autonomy from the Hapsburg. In 1505 they joined the Swiss confederation.



José Rizal together with Maximo Viola, visited Schaffhausen in June 2-3 1887.  They billeted themselves in Hotel Müller, just across the city's main train station. It was actually their grand tour of Europe before José Rizal's first homecoming to the Philippines. But why did they included Schaffhausen in their itinerary? What was the reason of their stop to the city?

Hotel Müller in the early 1900.


Rizal had this strange attraction to bodies of water. He immortalized the Pasig river in his writings. From the Pacific to the Elbe there was always something in bodies of water that stirred the romantic spirit in him. This travels with Viola is a good reference. Dresden to Leitmeritz is in the path of the river Elbe. what totally gave him away is this stop in Scahffhausen. There were no friends and personalities to visit there. No events to see and no places of high interest......except; the mighty "Rheinfall" (the Rhein Waterfalls)

The "Rheinfall" is Europe's largest waterfalls, it is located on the Upper Rhine river in the municipality of Neuhausen Am Rheinfall (part of canton Schaffhausen). About 20 minutes drive by bus in the center of Schaffhausen.


Postcard of the "Rheinfall" during Rizal's time


Maximo Viola wrote in his travel memoir with Rizal in Europe on their stop to the Rheinfall in 1887: "It was the grandest cascade in Europe; we forded the river in front of the same cataract in a small boat which vibrated very much on account of the surge produced by the great quantity of water in its vertiginous and noisy fall. We bought some souvenirs of our visit to that beautiful cascade and then proceeded to Schaffhausen."
Dr. Maximo Viola

Viola did not mention the places they visit in the city of Scaffhausen, nor was there any reference of what they did. He just referred the travel book they were using that time (Baedekers). Rizal in his letter to Ferdinand Blumentritt merely mentioned that they will visit Schaffhausen. Judging from Viola's own  account, the high point of the visit in the Schaffhausen area was no other than the "Rheinfall".

Judging from Baedekers travel guide, I believe Rizal and Viola visited the Munot, the old town center or perhaps even the bell of Schiller. As a former residence of Schaffhausen who had seen its vibrant tourist industry and known its history, I cannot help but conclude that no doubt they spent the rest of their time visiting those famous places of Schaffhausen. Where else would they go?...."Sicher d' Schaffhuse!"


                                                    POSTSCRIPT

Rheinfall

Observation deck of the Rheinfall


The back of  Hotel Múller's receipt during Rizal's time


The former Hotel Müller. Picture taken 1996



The marker installed by the PH government  


The hotel viewed across the train station. 1996 photo


The hotel in the early 1960's

                                                Schaffhausen

The Munot
               

                                                                View of the old city


The view of the Munot  from the Rhine River


Me at Schiller's Bell, one attraction in Schaffhausen