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Europe

The European continent was named after beautiful Phoenician woman called Europa.

Europe

When Zeus have seen Agenor's daughter Europa gathering flowers he immediately fell in love with her.

Places that I've seen and I like

There are a lot of cities and nice places in Germany, many of them having profound significance in the history of Germany and some in the history of the whole Europe. I will describe only these that I have visited myself, thus you may not find many very interesting cities and sites. But this only means that I was not there.

The places and sites are described on a few pages and put in the alphabetic order. Almost all photographs are taken by me using my amateur Panasonic camera.

Rhine Gorge

The Rhine Gorge is a popular name for the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, a 65 km section of the River Rhine between the cities Koblenz and Bingen in Germany. It was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in June 2002 for a unique combination of geological, historical, cultural and industrial reasons.

Rhine Gorge panorama

The region's rocks were laid down in the Devonian period and are known as Rhenish Facies. This is a fossil-bearing sedimentary rock which underwent considerable folding during the Carboniferous period. The gorge was carved out during a much more recent uplift to leave the river contained within steep walls 200 m high, the most famous feature being the rock named Loreley.

Map of Rhine Gorge

This part of the Rhine features strongly in folklore, such as a legendary castle on the Rhine being the setting for the opera Götterdämmerung. The annual Rhine in Flames festivals include spectacular firework displays at Sankt Goar in September and Koblenz in August, the best view being from one of a convoy of boats.

RGorge - Burg Katz RGorge - Burg Stahleck

The gorge produces its own microclimate and has acted as a corridor for species not otherwise found in the region. Its slopes have long been terraced for agriculture, in particular wine culture which has good conditions on south-facing slopes. Most of the vineyards belong to the wine region Mittelrhein, but the southernmost parts of the Rhine Gorge fall in Rheingau and Nahe.

RGorge - Marksburg Castle RGorge - Stolzenfels Castle

The river has been an important trade route into central Europe since prehistoric times and a string of small settlements has grown up along the banks. Constrained in size, many of these old towns retain a historic feel today. With increasing wealth, many castles were built and the valley became a core region of the Holy Roman Empire. It was at the centre of the Thirty Years' War, which left many of the castles in ruins, a particular attraction for today's cruise ships which follow the river. At one time forming a border of France, in the 19th Century the valley became part of Prussia and its landscape became the exemplary image of Germany.

Bingen am Rhine

Even before the Romans came, people lived here, due to the location favored for transport (confluence of the Nahe and Rhine rivers, and the Rhine’s entry into the gorge). It was a Celtic settlement and the name of Binge – meant “rift”. In the early first century AD, Roman troops were stationed in Bingen on the Rhine Valley Road. The Romans erected a wooden bridge across the river Nahe and constructed a Mithraic monument, which included a mutilated sculpture representing the nativity of Mithra from a rock. One of its inscriptions is dated 236 AD.

Bingen panorama Bingen Basilica

The presbyter Aetherius of Bingen founded sometime between 335 and 360 a firmly Christian community. Bearing witness to this time is Aetherius’s gravestone, which can still be seen in Saint Martin’s Basilica. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the town became a Frankish royal estate and passed in 983 by the Donation of Verona from Otto II to Archbishop Willigis of Mainz. Under Otto III the Binger forest came into being. Under Willigis, some way up the river Nahe, the stone Bingerbrück Bridge was built.

Bingen View on Basilica Bingen Basilica

The inhabitants of Bingen strove time and again for independence, which led in 1165 through disputes between the Archbishop of Mainz and the Emperor to destruction. In the 13th century, Bingen was a member of the Rhine League of Towns. The Klopp Castle built in the mid 13th century was tied with this development. A last independence attempt was the town’s unsuccessful participation in the German Peasants' War in 1525. Until the late 18th century Bingen remained under Archbishop of Mainz administration. Like many towns in the valley, Bingen suffered several town fires and wars.

Bingen streets 1 Bingen Streets  2
Bingen markt 1 Bingen markt 2

From 1792 to 1813, the town was, as part of the department of Mont-Tonnerre, occupied by French Revolutionary troops that had occupied the whole Rhine’s left bank. In 1816, after the Congress of Vienna, the town passed to the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt while today’s outlying centre of Bingerbrück went to Prussia’s Rhine Province, making Bingen a border town until 1871, when the German Empire was founded.

Bingen Hildegard church 1 Bingen Hildegard church 2
Bingen Hildegard church orgels Bingen Hildegrad church inside

On 7 June 1969, the formerly Prussian municipality of Bingerbrück was merged. On 22 April 1972 Dromersheim’s and Sponsheim’s have merged with Bingen. For the State Garden Show hold in 2008 in Bingen, the Rhine side areas in the town underwent extensive modernization.

Bacharach

In the early 11th century, Bacharach had its first documentary mention. In 1214 the Wittelsbachs became Bacharach’s new lords. Together with the Unteramt of Kaub they received here their most important toll and revenue source. In 1314 it was decided to choose Louis the Bavarian as the German king. Furthermore, Bacharach was the most important transfer point for the wine trade, as barrels were offloaded here from the smaller ships that were needed to get by the Binger reef and loaded onto bigger ones. From then on, the wine bore the designation Bacharacher. The timber trade also brought Bacharach importance, and in 1356, Bacharach was granted town rights.

Bacharach entrance Bacharach Rheine
Bacharach Rheine to the south Bacharach parking by the river

In 1344, building work began on the town wall, and was finished about 1400. In 1545, the town, along with the whole Palatinate, became Protestant under the Count of Palatine Friedrich II. But the Stahleck Castle and the town wall could not stop Bacharach from undergoing eight changes in military occupation in the Thirty Years' War. Further destruction was done by several town fires. Then, in 1689, French troops fighting in the Nine Years' War have blown up the Stahleck Castle and four of the town wall’s towers.

Bacharach view from the Rhine Bacharach the river side

In 1794, French Revolutionary troops occupied the Rheine’s left bank and in 1802, Bacharach became temporarily French. After the Congress of Vienna, the town went, along with the Rhine’s left bank, up to and including Bingerbrück of Bingen, to Prussia. After the river harbor silted up, Bacharach fell into a slumber from which it only awoke in the course of the Rhine romantic. Among the first of the prominent visitors at this time was the French writer Victor Hugo.

Bacharach entrance Bacharach Stahleck Castle
Bacharach old westing Burg Pfalzgrafenstein

Today Bacharach thrives on tourism and wine from Bacharach is still enjoying international popularity. Not to be overlooked, however, are problems arising from a shrinking population, itself brought about by a lack of prospects.

Oberwesel

As in many of the region’s towns, Oberwesel quite possibly had its beginnings as a Celtic settlement, named Vosavia or Volsolvia. The Romans later maintained a horse-changing station with a hostel here. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Oberwesel became a Frankish royal holding with a royal estate.

Oberwesel 18 century

The Wesel Estate passed under Emperor Otto I in 966 to the Archbishopric of Magdeburg. In 1220, Emperor Frederick II dissolved the pledge and Oberwesel became a free imperial city. In 1255, Oberwesel became a member of the Rhine League of Towns but in 1309, it lost its status as a free imperial city and fell under the lordship of the Electorate of Trier, to which it belonged until 1802. In the so-called Wesel War in 1390 and 1391, the town tried yet again to turn over a new leaf, but after a successful siege by Archbishop of Trier Werner von Falkenstein, it had to back down.

Oberwesel backery Oberwesel Rhine
Oberwesel Schonburg Oberwesel Our Lady church

Winegrowing, fishing, trade and handicrafts helped the town gather enough wealth to begin work on the town walls in 1220, building them in three phases from then until the mid 14th century. The town’s importance in the Middle Ages can be gathered from the two great ecclesiastical foundations; Our Lady’s and Saint Martin’s, as well as the two monasteries and the Beginenhof. All together, nine monasteries had sizeable commercial holdings in town.

Our Lady church by Oberwesel Inside Our Lady church

In 1689, in the Nine Years' War (known in Germany as the War of the Palatine Succession), Oberwesel was destroyed for the first time, by soldiers of the First French Empire. In 1794, the town was occupied by French Revolutionary troops and in 1802 was annexed by France. After the Congress of Vienna, Oberwesel became, along with the rest of the Rhine’s left bank, Prussian.

Oberwesel Saint Martin's church Oberwesel railway station

In the course of administrative restructuring in Rheineland-Palatinate, the new commune of Sankt Goar-Oberwesel was formed out of the towns of Sankt Goar and commune Oberwesel on 22 April 1972, with the administrative seat at Oberwesel. On 17 March 1974, the formerly self-administering municipalities of Langscheid and Dellhofen were merged with Oberwesel.

Schönburg am Rhine

The Schönburg is a castle above the medieval town of Oberwesel in the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.

Scho,burg entrance Schonburg entrane 2
Schonburg tablice Schonburg cafetaria

Schönburg Castle was first mentioned in history between the years 911 and 1166.
From the 12th century, the Dukes of Schönburg ruled over the town of Oberwesel and had also the right to levy customs on the Rhine River.

Schonburg ingang castle Schonburg view on  Rhine
Schonburg view on Rhine 2 Schonburg view on Rhine 3

The most famous was Friedrich von Schönburg - a much-feared man known as “Marshall Schomberg” - who in the 17th century served as a colonel and as a general under the King of France in France and Portugal and later also for the Prussians and for William Prince of Orange in England.

Schonburg inside 1 Schonburg inside 2
Schonburg down the wals Schonburg inside 3

The Schönburg line died out with the last successor, the son of Friedrich of Schönburg. The castle was burned down in 1689 by French soldiers during the Palatinate wars.

Schonburg Inside doors Schonburg hall inside castle Schonburg tower ingang Schonburg hall 2

The Schönburg castle remained in ruins for 200 years until it was acquired by the German-American Rhinelander family who bought the castle from the town of Oberwesel in the late 19th century, and restored it. The town council of Oberwesel acquired the castle back from the Rhinelander family in 1950.

Schonburg maket Schonburg museum - Rhine ferry model
Schonburg resten van de grote zaal Maciek i Grazyna in Schonburg castle

Since 1957 the Hüttl family is living at the castle on a long-term lease; they operate a successful hotel and restaurant there. The castle can be visited daily.

Lorelei

The Lorelei, also spelled Loreley, is a rock on the eastern bank of the Rhine near St. Goarshausen, which soars some 120 meters above the waterline. It marks the narrowest part of the river between Switzerland and the North Sea. A very strong current and rocks below the waterline have caused many boat accidents there.

Loreley panorama

The rock and the murmur it creates have inspired various tales. An old legend envisioned dwarves living in caves in the rock.

Loreley painted by Emil Krupa-Krupinski Loreley by Mariano Pinton Loreley in Bronx Lorelei rock

In 1801 German author Clemens Brentano composed his ballad Zu Bacharach am Rheine as part of a fragmentary continuation of his novel Godwi oder Das steinerne Bild der Mutter. He is the first who told the story of an enchanting female associated with the rock. In the poem, the beautiful Lore Lay, betrayed by her sweetheart, is accused of bewitching men and causing their death. Rather than sentence her to death, the bishop consigns her to a nunnery. On her way to the monastery, accompanied by three knights, she comes to the Lorelei rock. She asks permission to climb it and view the Rhine once again. She does so and falls to her death; the rock still retained an echo of her name afterwards. Brentano had taken inspiration from Ovid and the Echo myth.

Lorelei place Lorelei rock

In 1824 Heinrich Heine seized on and adapted Brentano's theme in one of his most famous poems, Die Lore-Ley. It describes the titular female as a sort of siren who, sitting on the cliff above the Rhine and combing her golden hair, unwittingly distracted shipmen with her beauty and song, causing them to crash on the rocks. In 1837 Heine's lyrics were set to music by Friedrich Silcher in a song that became well known in German-speaking lands. A setting by Franz Liszt was also favored, and over a score of other musicians has set the poem to music.

Lorelei rock en face Lorelei rock close up

The Loreley character, although originally imagined by Brentano, passed into German popular culture in the form described in the Heine-Silcher song and is commonly but mistakenly believed to have originated in an old folk tale. The French writer Guillaume Apollinaire took up the theme again in his poem "La Loreley".

Lorelei top Lorelei entrance from the river
Lorelei with the author Lorelei and Grazyna

The fact is that this place on the Rhine was and still is dangerous for the ships. A barge carrying 2,400 tonnes of sulphuric acid capsized on January 13, 2011 near the town of St. Goarshausen, home to the Lorelei rock. Amid a frantic search for two crew members which in this narrowest part of the Rhine, traffic on one of Europe's busiest waterways was blocked for some time.

Boppard

The name Boppard is of Celtic origin, which implies that there had been Celtic settlement before the Romans came to this place. With the expansion of the Roman Empire, the Middle Rhine lost its strategic importance. On the other hand, the river was gaining more and more importance as a supply and trade avenue. In the mid 3rd century, the Rhine’s right bank had to be evacuated and passed to the Germani, thereby making the river Rhine the border of Empire once more. In 355, Roman Emperor Julian stopped the Germanic invasion and began securing the Middle Rhine. His successor Valentinian I finished the work. It was also at this time that the Roman castle at Boppard was built.

Boppard 1655
Boppard today seen from Rhine

Towards the end of 405, the last Roman troops were withdrawn to defend Italy. The town’s next documentary mention did not come until the Early Middle Ages. According to this source from 643, Boppard was a Frankish royal estate and an administrative centre of the Bopparder Reich, part of a Merovingian state.

Boppard Karmelitkirche Boppard Huis aan de river
Boppard park aan de Rhine Boppard Rhine avenue

Until 1309, Boppard was a free imperial city, and as such was often frequented by the German kings. The town and the surrounding Imperial Estate were governed by Imperial ministers. A series of the ministers lived in the town, among who were the Beyer von Boppard family, the von Schönecks and the von Bickenbachs.

Boppard ship on the Rhine Boppard hotel on the Rhine

In 1309 and 1312, Emperor Heinrich VII pledged Boppard along with its outlying lands to his brother, Archbishop Baldwin of Trier. The Boppard townsfolk, however, felt that this merger with the Electorate of Trier was unlawful. They tried to struggle against what they saw as a foreign ruler and in 1327 and they set up their own council. After a short siege, Baldwin had stormed the town and quelled this challenge to his authority, thus absorbing the town of Boppard into the Electorate of Trier. Baldwin then had expanded the Old Castle, which was also meant to ensure his lordship over the town.

Boppard entrance to old city Boppard old restaurant
Boppard Severus church Boppard Klein markt

In 1496 to King of the Romans (later Holy Roman Emperor) Maximilian I, supported the town in its dispute with the Elector of Trier, Johann II of Baden. He freed Boppard from Electoral jurisdiction and tolls. However, Maximilian overstepped his authority in redeeming the pledge and had to revise his decision. This led in 1497 to the Boppard War. The Elector of Trier advanced on the town with an army of 12,000 soldiers. The neighbouring places of Bad Salzig and Weiler surrendered without a fight. Boppard could not withstand the siege for long, and in the end had to acknowledge the Elector as their ruler.

Boppard old houses Boppard Severus church 2

In the Thirty Years' War, Boppard lost one third of its population. Swedish troops under Otto Ludwig occupied the town on 18 January 1632. In the Nine Years' War (1688-1697; known in Germany as War of the Palatine Succession), an attack by French troops was successfully repulsed. In the War of the Polish Succession, French troops under General de Court attacked Boppard. The new Electoral City Policy of 1789 was meant to strengthen the Elector’s influence, but by 1794, French Revolutionary troops had occupied the town, which remained under French rule for the next 20 years.

Boppard Severus church entrance Boppard old house with cafetaria Boppard old groccery shop Boppard old herenhuis

In 1815 the Congress of Vienna assigned the town along with the Rhine’s left bank as far upstream as Bingerbrück of Bingen to the Kingdom of Prussia. Between 1848 and 1892, the town developed into a tourism centre and a spa. This new industry was furthered by the building of the Koblenz-Bingerbrück railway and the railway station in 1859. Steamship traffic on the Rhine, too, led to an upswing in the town’s fortunes as a tourist centre. During the 19th century, Boppard’s population grew from some 3,000 at the beginning to some 5,000 by about 1875.

Boppard Grote markt 1 Boppard Grote markt 2
Boppard old house Boppard very old classic house

Since 1946, the town has been part of the then newly founded state of Rhineland-Palatinate. In 1952, the outlying centre of Boppard-Buchenau was founded. In the course of administrative restructuring in Rhineland-Palatinate in the 1960s, the district of Sankt Goar was dissolved and Boppard was grouped into the new district of Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis. On 10 July 1976 Boppard was granted the town rights once more.

Koblenz

Koblenz is a German city situated on both banks of the Rhine at its confluence with the Moselle, where the German Corner and its monument Emperor William I on horseback are situated. As Koblenz was one of the military posts established by Drusus about 8 BC, the town celebrated its 2000th anniversary in 1992.

Confluence of Rhine and Mossel

The name Koblenz originates from Latin confluentes, confluence or "at the merging of rivers". Subsequently it was Covelenz and Cobelenz. In the local dialect the name is Kowelenz. After Mainz and Ludwigshafen am Rhein, it is the third largest city in Rhineland-Palatinate, with a population of 106,000 in 2006.

Basilica sint Castor in Koblenz Schloss Stolzenfels

With the fall of the Roman Empire, the city was conquered by the Franks and became a royal seat. After the division of Charlemagne's empire, it was included in the lands of his son Louis the Pious. In 837, it was assigned to Charles the Bald, and a few years later it was here that Carolingian heirs discussed what was to become the Treaty of Verdun in 843, by which the city became part of Lotharingia under Lothair I. In 860 and 922, Koblenz was the scene of ecclesiastical synods. The town was sacked and destroyed by the Normans in 882. In 925, it became part of the eastern German Kingdom, later the Holy Roman Empire.

Balduin Bridge

In 1018, the city was given by the emperor Henry II to the archbishop and prince elector of Trier after receiving a charter. It remained in the possession of his successors until the end of the 18th century, being their main residence since the 17th century. Emperor Conrad II was elected here in 1138. In 1198, the battle between Philip of Swabia and Otto IV took place nearby. In 1216, prince-bishop Theoderich von Wied donated part of the lands of the basilica and the hospital to the Teutonic Knights, which later became the Deutsches Eck. In 1249–1254, Koblenz was given new walls by Archbishop Arnold II of Isenburg; and the successive archbishops built and strengthened the fortress of Ehrenbreitstein that still dominates the city.

Gorres Plain Bezirks Koblenz
Kurfürstliche Schloss Munz Plain

The city was a member of the league of the Rhine cities which rose in the 13th century. The Teutonic Knights founded the Bailiwick of Koblenz in or around 1231. Koblenz attained great prosperity and it continued to advance until the disaster of the Thirty Years' War that brought about a rapid decline. After Philip Christopher, elector of Trier, surrendered Ehrenbreitstein to the French, the town received an imperial garrison in 1632. However, this force was soon expelled by the Swedes, who in their turn handed the city over again to the French. Imperial forces finally succeeded in retaking it by storm in 1636. In 1688, Koblenz was besieged by the French, but they only succeeded in bombing the Old City into ruins, destroying among other buildings the Old Merchants' Hall, which was restored in its present form in 1725. The city was the residence of the archbishop-electors of Trier from 1690 to 1801.

Koblenz Theater Alte Kaufhaus
Deutsche Eck Rhein-Mosel-Halle

After the World War I, France has occupied the area once again. In retaliation against the French, the German populace of the city has insisted on using the more German spelling of Koblenz since 1926. During World War II it was the location of the command of Army Group B and like many other German cities, it was heavily bombed and rebuilt afterwards. Between 1947 and 1950, it served as the seat of government of Rhineland-Palatinate. The Rhine Gorge was declared a World Heritage Site in 2002, with Koblenz marking the northern end.

Basilica of St. Castor

The Basilica of St. Castor is the oldest church in Koblenz in the German state of Rhineland Palatinate. It is located near the German Corner at the confluence of the Rhine and the Moselle. A fountain called Castor well was built in front of the basilica during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. Pope John Paul II raised St. Castor to a basilica minor on 30 July 1991. This church is worth seeing for the historical events that have occurred in it, its extensive Romanesque construction and its largely traditional furnishings. Since 2002, the Basilica of St. Castor has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage cultural landscape of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. In addition, it is a cultural property protected under the Hague Convention.

St Castor Koblenz St Castor Koblenz en face
St Castor around St Castor around 2

The church of St. Castor was built between 817 and 836 by Hetto, the Archbishop of Trier with the support of Emperor Louis the Pious, just outside the city of Confluents founded by the Romans and dedicated on 12 November 836. As Koblenz had a Frankish royal court, Louis was in charge of the construction of the church and it was built as a Carolingian proprietary church. The church honours St. Castor, who is said to have worked as a missionary on the Moselle in the 4th century and to have founded a religious community in Karden.

Ground plan of St Castor

In 836 the church was ordained as a Carolingian hall with a rectangular chancel, but it was extended later in the 9th century with a transept with a semicircular apse. It had become part of the monastery of St. Castor, with its priest living a monastic life.

St Castor inside St Castor siling
St Castor baptism St Castor inside 2

St. Castor’s was damaged in the battle of 1199 between Otto IV and Philip of Swabia in the dry bed of the Moselle near Koblenz. Repairs were made and the nave needed to be reconstructed. The Archbishop of Trier John I inaugurated the renovated church, together with its altars on 27 July 1208. The building completed in 1208 had a flat ceiling, but by the end of the 13th century this had been replaced by a vaulted roof.

St Castor inside 3 St Castor inside 4

As a result of the secularisation of church lands agreed at the Principal Conclusion of the Extraordinary Imperial Delegation of 1803, St. Castor’s became a collegiate church with monastery buildings on its west facade and on its south side. Under the leadership of the Prussian inspector of buildings, a complete restoration of the interior began in 1830, which soon came to a standstill due to lack of money. As a result of a legacy of the dean Edmund Bausch and a gift of King Frederick William IV the restoration was carried out from 1848 to 1849.

Maria St Castor Saint Castor statue St Castor Werner von Falkenstein grave

Between 1840 and 1860, the interior was provided with frescoes. The final appearance of St. Castor’s was restored between 1890 and 1894, when the entire church was provided with a veneer of tuff. At the same time, the brickwork of the south aisle was renewed.

St Castor Kuno II. von Falkenstein grave St Castor Maternus Gillenfelt grave Picture of Saint Castor

On 6 November 1944 St. Castor’s was damaged by a British air raid. In March 1945 the outer walls were also damaged by artillery. The stone material including the vault, however, remained largely intact. In 1948 enough money was raised for its reconstruction and a 25-year renovation began.

Epitaph Ritter Schönborn mit Gattin Tintinnabulum at St Castor New Orgel built in north transept in 1962

Extensive renovation and restoration work was carried out on the towers in 1979 to 1990. Pope John Paul II raised St. Castor's to a basilica minor on 30 July 1991. The restoration omitted the western gallery and of the organ of 1728. Instead, a new organ was built in the transept in 1962.