A group of visitors from Germany this week are helping strengthen a relationship going back centuries.
Nine residents of Ronneburg, Germany, are in Amana and will be welcomed with a reception today. It’s far from the first time the two towns have exchanged visitors, said Jon Childers, museum director of the Amana Heritage Society.
Ronneburg castle and municipality, in Hessen, Germany, after all, is where members of the original “Community of True Inspiration” that inspired the Amana Church once lived, and ties have been kept between Ronneburg and Amana.
“The story goes back about 300 years. Our church was based in this area,” Childers said. “In the 1840s to 1960s, there was still one family that continued to write letters back and forth.”
Then, in the 1950s, visitors from Amana and from Ronneburg started making trips back and forth in person, and such visits have been happening ever since. Childers has been one of them — he remembers studying in Germany just north of Ronneburg and “going back home” on the weekends to spend time with families he met there.
“It’s not an official sister city relationship, but it’s really just kind of blossomed,” he said. “People go back and forth all the time.”
In 2011, a road in Ronneburg was renamed Amana Street, and Amana residents reciprocated in 2013, unofficially designating the church alley in Amana as Ronneburg Street.
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This week’s visit includes Ronneburg Mayor Andreas Hoffman and artist Reiner Erdt, a seventh-generation hotel and restaurant owner in Ronneburg who has done cooking classes for residents and visitors in Amana. His ink drawing art will be on display during the reception at the Amana Heritage Society today, which also will include a meet-and-greet with the visitors and a presentation on life, landscape and music in Ronneburg.
“Amana has always been known in modern history as a visitor destination. This is something we actually do for ourselves,” Childers said. “This is something that helps us remember who we are and where we came from. And that it’s not just something that happened a long time ago … It’s a living history. You hear stories about our commonalities and our differences; it’s getting to know the people and creating those relationships.”
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If you go
• What: Amana & Ronneburg Sister City Reception
• When: Meet and greet 6:30 p.m., presentation 7 p.m. today
• Where: Amana Heritage Museum, 4319 220th Trl., Amana
• Details: (319) 622-3567