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The German city of Freiburg in the edge of Black Forest has a curious attraction—little streams of clear water flowing through the city in open channels sunken into the pavement. During a hot day, of which there are plenty in Freiburg, one can see people relaxing besides these streams with their feet dipped into the cold water. Children love to splash around in the shallow waters, they jump, run and float paper boats and have merry. And if an outsider accidentally falls into one, the local wisdom goes, they are destined to marry a Freiburger.

The city’s unusual gutter system, locally known as Bächle, was once used to bring water from the Dreisam river down to the city to feed livestock and fight fires. The Bächle was first documented in the year 1220, but archeological excavation suggests that they existed at least a hundred years earlier right back to the time when Freiburg was founded.

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Bächle in the city of Freiburg. Photo credit: Uellue/Shutterstock.com

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