Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The German Rhein (Luxembourg Trip - Part 3)

From Luxembourg city we drove east, just over the border to Trier, Germany. I hadn't really heard of Trier before but it is the oldest city in Germany and was an old Roman town. There is the remains of an amphitheater as well as a few other ruins but by the time we got there it was closed for the day. There is also a very old city gate, the Porta Nigra, from the 2nd century and the church dates back to the 4th century as well. The church is interesting because there is now a second church built beside it and pretty much connected to the first but in a different style. The central square was also quite nice to sit at and enjoy the atmosphere and we ended up staying the night in Trier. Carl Marx was also from Trier.

Trier church. With the newer one on the right.

Ruins in Trier.

The Porta Nigra city gate.

The main market square of Trier.

The following morning we got up early and continued east to Mainz. Mainz is close to Frankfurt and sits on the Rhine river. The stretch of the Rhine from Mainz to Koblenz is considered the upper middle Rhine and is listed as a UNESCO heritage site (like Trier and Luxembourg city). We got to Mainz, ran around the centre for an hour to see the not terribly exciting pedestrian area and cathedral and bought a map of the Rhine valley between Mainz and Cologne. Mainz' additional claim to fame is as the home of Gutenberg the guy that invented the movable type printing press in the 1450's.


Gutenberg museum in Mainz.

It took us 6-7 hours to drive the 100km stretch between Mainz and Koblenz with all the stops along the way. We took our time as there seem to be castles on both sides of the river every couple of km. Not huge castles but still the real things and some dating back well over 1000 years.
There are roads going along both banks and I can't imagine you'd go wrong travelling along either. We were on the west bank. As it formed part of the frontier of the Roman empire, there are more ruins and older towns on the west bank, though maybe it's better to drive on the east side and get a better view of the castles... Actually the best would be to take one of the river cruises and enjoy both sides at once.
We stopped at some of the main little towns along the way like Bingen, Bacharach, St. Goar and then crossed the river to get on the last tour of Marksburg castle. Bacharach was probably the nicest for me. Small walled town with a castle above and 16 towers along the wall. You can't walk on the wall or anything but the whole affect was pretty. I was expecting it to be very busy and touristy along this route which it normally is, but apparently the summer tourist season is just getting started because of the bad weather throughout June. It was perfect weather with low crowds and traffic for us so we were very pleased. We also periodically ran up to some of the castles to get a view over the river as well. Some of the castles are museums but many have been turned into hostels or hotels as well. Lots of freight traffic on the river and vineyards stretching up along the banks. It is the wine region of Germany after all.

The view from Bingen.


One of the towers along the wall of Bacharach.

The castle, now hostel, Bacharach.

View from above Bacharach castle.

Castles like these are dotted all along the Rhine in this area.

Lunch in St. Goar.

Note the vineyards on the hills.

Marksburg castle is the best preserved.


After Marksburg we were running out of time so continued on the highway to Bonn to do a quick drive through of the centre and then stopped in Cologne to see the massive cathedral there. Cologne cathedral is the tallest Roman Catholic cathedral in the world and has the largest twin tower facade in the world as well. It's massive but what I couldn't get over was how think and solid it looked in the front. There is nothing delicate about it and yet it has a ton of decor as well. We were able to get inside for a quick look around but it's built so proportionally that once inside it's hard to compare how tall it is to any other tall cathedral in Europe. The effect to me was all on the outside. It might be considered cheating a little that they took over 600 years to build something so big though.

Cologne catherdral.

We were there for sunset and then started the 3 hour journey home to Alkmaar to discover that the girls had left that morning for an overnight trip back to Paris to pick up things forgotten on our last trip down there and no doubt to do a little extra shopping as well.


At 8:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Ammon,
Amazing pictures of buildings you just don't normally see. What a way to wind down the tour, loved the small towns and buildins. Just may have to do a motorcycle tour there afterall.
Thank you for the great blog.

Last Man Standing
Bear Hugs


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