INGOLSTADT, GERMANY, December 23, 2017: One of the best things about writing travel is discovering anniversaries for which anyone can relate. In 2018, Germany and Switzerland will celebrate the 200th birthday of one of the most famous characters in literature and film, Frankenstein’s monster
Mary Shelley, inventor of Frankenstein’s Monster
The genesis of the gothic horror tale began in Europe in 1814 when a young woman named Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, who would later become the wife of the English romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, stopped at the tiny village of Gernsheim, Germany along the river Rhine.Gernsheim is roughly ten miles from Frankenstein Castle. It there, two centuries earlier, an alchemist was partaking in anatomical experiments.
Later during her travels, the young woman journeyed to the region of Geneva, Switzerland where the subject of galvanism became a popular topic of conversation among her friends one evening. Galvanism is a biological contraction of a muscle that is stimulated by an electric current created by two chemical reactions with differing properties.
Frankenstein’s Monster the result of a literary competition
On an especially unseasonable weekend of cold, dreary weather, Mary, Percy, Lord Bryon and John Pollidori decided to have a competition to see who could write the best horror story as a means of passing the time.
After much thought, Mary dreamt of her experiences in Gernsheim along with the subject of galvanism. When she awoke the next morning, she formulated the idea behind a young scientist who created life from various body parts of fresh corpses.
Though the story of Frankenstein’s monster was spun in Geneva, where much of it takes place, another prominent location is the German village in Bavaria called Ingolstadt.
Situated near Munich, the legend of Frankenstein’s monster of Ingolstadt attracts thousands of visitors each year to experience the locations where the story took place.
Visit Ingolstadt, Germany: Home to Frankenstein’s Monster
With its legendary accounts from the earliest days of the study of modern medicine, the Old Town of Ingolstadt is one of those places that is an ideal setting for Mary Shelley’s Gothic tale of horror.
The “Hohe Schule” building was once used by the first Bavarian state university and the Anatomical Institute. Today, the Museum of Medical History, housed the first medical faculty north of the Alps. Wherever pioneers are at work, visions become a reality – but sinister creatures also began to take shape.
At least, that was what many people of that period feared.
Among the most popular ways to visit Ingolstadt is doing the Frankenstein tour that encompasses all the true sites that are woven into the story. Be warned, however, strong nerves are suggested because there are some scary surprises along the way.
Frankenstein’s Monster: Horror or Science Fiction
Anthologist and science fiction writer, Brian Aldiss, who died in August of this year, would arge that “Frankenstein” should be seen as the first true science fiction story. Aldiss’ theory is that because of the central character, scientist Victor Frankenstein, who audaciously crossed the boundaries between life and death, “makes a deliberate decision” and “turns to modern experiments in the laboratory” to achieve fantastic results.
Consequently, the story of Frankenstein’s monster has had a significant and indisputable influence upon literature and popular culture since it first appeared two centuries ago.
The name “Frankenstein” comes from the combination of two words; “Franks” are a Germanic tribe and stein is the word for “stone” in German. Thus the meaning of Frankenstein is “Stone of the Franks.
The real Frankenstein’s Castle
Though approximately 300 miles from Ingolstadt, the actual Frankenstein Castle in Darmstadt is the inspiration for Mary Shelley’s residence of Dr. Frankenstein.
Before 1250, Lord Conrad II Reiz of Breuberg built the castle and later changed his name to von und zu Frankenstein. He was the founder of the free imperial Barony of Frankenstein, which was subject only to the jurisdiction of the emperor.
Adding to the mystery surrounding the origins of the Frankenstein saga is Ingolstadt’s connection with an Enlightenment-era secret society begun on May 1, 1776: The Illuminati.
The goals of the organization were to oppose superstition and religious influence over public life and abuses of state power. As with the Freemasons, and similar organizations, many influential intellectuals and politicians counted themselves among the membership of the Illuminati.
The sinister aspect of such groups is that they were thought to conspire to control world affairs, by masterminding events and planting agents in government and corporations. All in order to gain political power and influence while establishing a New World Order.
All of which fits neatly into the superstitions and atmosphere of the 18th-century world from which Frankenstein’s monster emerged.
So as your 2018 vacation planning progresses, if your path leads you to Bavaria, you might want to explore the footsteps of one of the world’s great villains in the town of Ingolstadt, Germany.
You’re probably safe, however. After all, they say that lightning never strikes in the same place twice.
About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime
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