Graffiti has been around for millennia. In perhaps what is a precursor to the personal public relations departments we all maintain via social media, ancient examples of graffiti are everywhere. In Turkey, among the ruins of Ephesus, what Is considered the first known example of modern graffiti can be found. It can also be found in as diverse and far away ancient places such as ancient Rome, India, China and Sri Lanka, and of course in historical Heidelberg.
As I made my way to Market Square, the heart of Heidelberg’s old town, I decided to take a hike up the many many stairs in the most famous church in the town, the Church of the Holy Spirit [Heiliggeistkirche]. First mentioned in documents from the laye thirteenth century, the current structure began its life in the late fourteenth century. From the viewing point above I would no doubt be able to take in some wonderful views of the city. For €2, this experience would be mine.
Walking up was not an issue for me given I live on a fifth floor walkup. However, about three quarters of the way to the top I noticed something oh so familiar and quite distressing: graffiti everywhere. Now, I get that we all want to stake our claim to the world and be original blah blah blah, but on a fourteenth century church? What makes people [of all ages] do such a thing? This is not non-vandalism graffiti art which I very much respect, it is simply low culture musings such as “hey! I was here” or “Joni loves Chachi.”
At the very top of the church I found graffiti from years as varied as 1919 and 1957 – and these were painstakingly scratched into the outside stone of the church. While for a moment I pondered what it must have been like to be in Germany in 1919 just after the end of the First World War, my thoughts again turned to why people feel the need to vandalize these historical places. Will these vandals ever come back looking for their mini land claim? Unlikely.
On my way back down, I saw one graffiti entry that apparently referenced me, JT, your flying north blogmaster. But how could this be?
JT asked Zoey to make out here and she said “no.” February 25, 2012.
[follow-up graffiti response] Oh, you sad, bro?! 🙁
Zoey, if you are out there, reveal yourself now. How dare you vandalize this church – and worse yet – refuse my advances.