Cafe Been&Green am Gumbertusplatz in Ansbach
Small-Town Charm

From historic walls and modern art to culture and culinary delights. Exploring Ansbach with actor and cabaret artist Thorsten Siebenhaar, tracking down a profoundly laid-back attitude towards life

Reading time: 15 minutes

Discovering Ansbach

For once, today it’s “all about the sausage”, as the Germans say. We’re here on Karlstrasse at the butcher Holch, a long-established, third-generation family business. This is where you’ll find the original Ansbach bratwurst, of course, which is made from coarse pork with the typical basic spice mix of salt, pepper, allspice and marjoram.

According to Thorsten Siebenhaar, the Ansbach bratwurst was first documented in 1430. “It’s even older than the Bavarian Purity Law!” He then orders three different versions of the speciality sausage from the counter: raw, smoked and fried.

As we try each of the sausages, there is, of course, one crucial question remaining with regards to the difference to the neighbour next door: What is different about the Ansbach bratwurst to Nuremberg’s “Drei im Weggla”, which consists of three Nuremberg sausages inside of a roll?

Wunderschön angelegte Blumenbete und gestutzte Hecken und Bäume im Hofgarten von Ansbach
Mit Thorsten Siebenhaar in der Markgräflichen Residenz in Ansbach

Coarser. Bigger. Better

Thorsten bites into the roll with the smoked variety and says: “Ours is coarser and bigger. And better, of course.” In definitely has a character all of its own, and once you taste it, it whets your appetite for more. Much like Ansbach itself.

Thorsten Siebenhaar is an actor and director, cabaret artist... and restaurateur. He is the perfect company on this warm summer’s day on which he wants to show us “his” Ansbach. It’s the town where he grew up, where he went to school, where he graduated and where he eventually joined the theatre. It’s the town where he now lives with his wife and their three-year-old son. And it’s the town he never wants to leave.

This morning, we meet Thorsten at his favourite café, the Green & Bean, which is tucked away at Gumbertusplatz. Over a cappuccino and croissant, he fills us in on the Ansbach lifestyle. On the local vibe and the difference to big cities like Nuremberg, not to mention the bratwurst.

Blick in den Himmel aus dem Innenhof der Markgräflichen Residenz in Ansbach
Deckenfresko von Carlo Carlone in der Markgräflichen Residenz von Ansbach

Anything but Anonymous

“Everybody knows everybody here,” says Thorsten, “you greet each other and are always talking to someone. At the bakery, the butcher, in the café and on the street. And even though it may take a little longer for supposedly shy people like the Franconians, friendships and acquaintances do develop that end up lasting.”

Those who want to go undetected and seek anonymity, he says, will certainly feel more comfortable in Nuremberg or Munich. But if, like him, you enjoy communicating, talking to people and finding inspiration for your life and career through your daily contacts, Ansbach, with its charming historic town centre, is just the place for you.

Shortly after the start of our tour, we find ourselves right in the middle of the town’s long history: the Ansbach Residence, the seat of power of the Hohenzollern Margraves of Brandenburg-Ansbach for many centuries until 1791, is magnificently furnished in the early Rococo style.

“The events in the inner courtyard really have a special atmosphere to them”

“The events in the inner courtyard really have a special atmosphere to them,” says Thorsten. “The evenings during our cultural summer with theatre, cabaret and live music always have a very unique atmosphere.” Enjoying art on a warm Middle Franconian summer night, in the echoing resonance chamber of the old walls in the open air. Ansbach unplugged.

Blick auf die Markgräfliche Residenz und das Bronze Pferd Anscavallo in Ansbach

Monumental Art!

Thorsten takes us across the Schlossplatz with its modern sculpture of “Anscavallo”. The bronze memorial by sculptor Jürgen Goertz reminds us of the town’s past as a garrison base. It’s anything but graceful, as the monument comes across as torn and threatening.

“After it was erected in 1993, there were large protests from the public, with many calling for it to be dismantled,” says Thorsten. “Today, most people have got used to it; it’s almost become a landmark and a popular photo motif.” What’s more, on the tenth anniversary of the Anscavallo in 2003, the local sculpture mile was launched, which is a biennial, open-air exhibition that takes place every odd-numbered year and always features new pieces and installations by various artists. It’s modern, sometimes provocative and always exciting, which goes along well with the galloping horse at Schlossplatz.

Our tour continues through the Hofgarten, a park that was built in the 18th century in the French Baroque landscape style. It’s a peaceful green oasis, one of Thorsten's favourite places to relax and think on one of the benches somewhere between the orangery and the pavilion. Underneath the linden trees.

Next Stop: The Butcher’s

Over a bratwurst, Thorsten reveals that he also lived in Cologne and Siegen for a few years for his studies. He says he enjoyed his time there. But it didn’t come close to Ansbach, as there were a lot of things he missed, including the good Franconian bread, he emphasises. And the way of life in general. The feeling of home.

He later returned home to the theatre, where he worked as an actor and director. He has since worked at the Kammerspiele cultural centre, which is our next stop on Maximilianstrasse.

It’s there that Thorsten runs the Kammerkneipe pub, where old projectors and nostalgic signs remind us of the time when the latest films were shown on the big screen in the cinema in the post-war years – before the building was converted into a centre for the arts and culture in the 1990s, for theatre and concerts, cabaret and the fine arts.

Blick auf die Ehemalige Markgräfliche Kanzlei in Ansbach
Stadtführer Thorsten Siebenhaar in der Bar der Ansbacher Kammerspiele

Fine Art and Variety Shows

National and international artists have already performed there, including Bavarian stage celebrities such as Gerhard Polt and the Well Brothers, Django 3000 and Dreiviertelblut. Thorsten Siebenhaar himself, who slipped into the role of caretaker Schorsch on two evenings in March 2023 for the official tapping of the strong beer and, as a speaker, poked fun at the local celebrities from politics and society who were in attendance. Franconian-style mockery.

It is now afternoon as we gradually set off again from the Kammerspiele, back towards the Old Town. There is a constant hello or Servus! when Thorsten bumps into friends or acquaintances. Time and time again, he stops for a small chat. How’s the family? How are your projects going? Everybody knows everybody. That’s just Ansbach.

The route returns to the old town centre through the 18th century Herrieder Gate. Just behind it, in a small alley called Büttenstrasse, Thorsten tells us how he used to walk through here with his parents as a child and his father told him about the many jazz clubs, pubs and nightclubs where the stationed soldiers danced, drank, grooved and partied after the war. Ansbach’s American party mile.

Blick auf das Herrieder Tor in Ansbach
Stadtführer Thorsten Siebenhaar sitzt neben dem Denkmal Kaspar Hauser in Ansbach

Kaspar Hauser: An Enigma of His Time

We turn right onto Platenstrasse and arrive at the remarkable monument to probably the most legendary person who ever lived here: Kaspar Hauser. There are two bronze figures positioned a few metres apart from one another. On the right a hunchbacked figure that appears slightly run-down. This is what sculptor Friedrich Schelle imagined he might have looked like when Kaspar was discovered as a confused and disorientated young man on Whit Monday 1828 on Nuremberg’s Unschlittplatz.

A mysterious misfit who moved to Ansbach in the autumn of 1831 at the behest of his English patron, the dazzling Lord Stanhope, and moved around in the finest of social circles as a celebrated star of society. Kaspar Hauser had made it to high society, as depicted by the figure on the left, where he appears as a well-styled gentleman. Until he fell victim to an assassination attempt in the Hofgarten in December of 1833 and succumbed to his injuries at home three days after the knife attack.

In December 1833, he fell victim to an assassination attempt in the Hofgarten

To this day, myths, mysteries and legends surround the identity and origins of the man. Attempts to provide explanations range from the theory that he was a son of the Duke of Baden to the assumption that he was just a charlatan. Scientific investigations have also failed to provide any clarification, which is why we can and may continue to speculate about his background.

We encounter traces of the strange man in many parts of the town. At the restaurant on Pfarrstrasse that bears his name. A few metres down the road in the house where he lived and died. Next door at Montgelasplatz with another sculpture surrounding a tree in his memory. And also in the section of the Margrave Museum dedicated solely to him.

There, directly behind the city wall, we discover another small monument. This time it’s for the Ansbach architect Ernst von Bandel (1800-1876), who is holding a miniature of his most famous work of art: He created the Hermann Monument in the Teutoburg Forest.

Die Kirche St. Gumbertus am Martin-Luther-Platz in Ansbach
Stadtführer Thorsten Siebenhaar vor seinem Lieblingscafe Bean&Green in Ansbach

We call it a day – after a detour to the church of St Gumbertus, one of the two central churches in the city centre alongside St Johannis – once again at Green & Bean. Thorsten chats with the owners and, as he has done throughout the tour, continues to talk to people. Over one last cold drink, we reflect on our exclusive stroll, during which the city put us in a permanent state of deep relaxation.

On the way to the railway station in the evening atmosphere, we contemplate the three attributes that we most associate with the city after this day and settle on: small, refined and laid-back. In this regard, the town is the exact opposite of its sausage.

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