Rhine & Moselle Cruise – Page 05

On Day 8 we left Trier for Bernkastel. We cruised on the Moselle and enjoyed the views of towns and vineyards.  As we rounded a bend in the river, Castle Landshut appeared.  It looked like a ruins. When we got closer, it still looked like a ruins, but with windows?? 

We moored the ship in Bernkastel just past the bridge in this well-known wine growing center on the Middle Moselle.The earliest evidence of human habitation dates to 3000 BC. The Moselle region is known in particular for its fruity and mild Riesling wines. They are appreciated especially in the USA. But local winegrowers also produce extraordinary dry Riesling wines which experts hold in high esteem because of their fruity nuances, their aroma and their mineral fullness. The wine is grown on steep slopes rising up to 60 degrees and on terraces. The mild micro climate and the slatey soil, which stores the warmth, provide ideal conditions for the Riesling vines.The Market Place is the center of activity in Bernkastel (Bear’s Castle)  It is bustling with tourists.  Our Orange Group Program Manager “Anja” (Enya) is on the right side of this photo.  She’s describing the points of interest to us using our very excellent transmitter and receivers. Also of note: Bernkastel hosts one of the many popular Christmas markets in Germany.

Another view of the Market Square with “half timbered” houses dating back to the 1600’s.

The ‘Spitzhäuschen’ (Pointy House), looks so fragile and seeming to balance on its tiny socket on which it was built in 1416. One side note: We saw window boxes in towns everywhere filled with geraniums.  Apparently the odor given off by geraniums is quite unpleasant to insects which helps keep the houses bug free. Another note: The window in the “Pointy House” contains glass that is called “bottle bottom” glass. I wonder if they used the “slam the wine bottle” to get the bottoms for the window?The street going up the hill leads to the trail to the Landshut Castle.  We hike up there.

The trail up. Note the distant hill sides covered with vineyards.The Landshut Castle looks pretty small from this vantage point.  Where are the windows we saw from the ship?

The view of Bernkastel from the Landshut Castle. That’s our ship down there.

It turns out that the interior of the Castle has a big outdoor beer/wine garden and also has a big indoor restaurant that has the windows.

Mary Ann and I shared a beer before we started hiking down.

On the way down, we passed a vineyard worker shearing vines.  He reminded us of a dear old friend: Bill Gauld shearing trees on his Christmas Tree farm in Sterling Massachusetts.

Mary Ann picked up some grapes.  They were ripe and tasted very sweet.

As we reboarded the ship we saw our three Program Manager Nicole, Anja, and Andrea) having a “Currywurst” and Fries. Currywurst is a big German hotdog smothered in ketchup and sprinkled with curry powder.  Apparently it’s a big thing in Germany.

We suffered through with “Braised German Beef Roulade with Pickles and Bacon, Served with Yeast Dumplings  and Braised Sprouts“.

That evening our ship headed was back tracking down the Moselle to the Rhine. On the next morning, Day 9, we were back on the Rhine to continue heading upstream towards Rudesheim.  It was a foggy morning and I took a few photos:

I had a chat with Captain Lazlo Frey in the pilot house.  He was glued to the radar screens (below this chair). He said everything was OK…

As the fog cleared, we passed by many more Rhine Castles: 

Marksburg Castle (Post Card)

The Sterrenburg & Liebenstrin Brother’s Castles (with a “spite wall” between them).

 A church that can only be entered by going through a pub.

 The Maus (Mouse) Castle

The Katz (Cats) Castle

The  Rhinfels Castle

The Loreley RocksThe Loreley is a rock on the eastern bank of the Rhine which soars some almost 400 feet above the waterline. It marks the narrowest part of the river between Switzerland and the North Sea, and is the most famous feature of the Rhine Gorge. A very strong current and rocks below the waterline have caused many boat accidents there.

The Lorelie StatueLoreley  is also the name of a feminine water spirit, similar to mermaids or Rhine maidens, associated with this rock in popular folklore and in works of music, art and literature. It is the story of an enchanting female associated with the rock. In the poem, the beautiful Loreley, 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 the way thereto, accompanied by three knights, she comes to the Loreley 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.

Finally, a couple more castles:

The Schoenberg Castle.

The Pfaltz “Toll House”

A Whimsical Rhine Sight Seeing Ship the “Moby Dick”

OK,. Time for a quick history lesson:  Why so many castles on the Rhine and Moselle and why are so many ruined?  Good question, glad you asked!!

The Rhine is a river that flows from the eastern Swiss Alps to the North Sea coast in the Netherlands and is the twelfth longest river in Europe, at about 766 miles with an average discharge of more than 71,000 cubic feet per second

The Rhine and the Danube formed most of the northern inland frontier of the Roman Empire* and, since those days, the Rhine has been a vital and navigable waterway carrying trade and goods deep inland (including wine for thirsty Romans). It has also served as a defensive feature and has been the basis for regional and international borders**. The many castles*** and prehistoric fortifications along the Rhine testify to its importance as a waterway. River traffic could be stopped at these locations, usually for the purpose of collecting tolls, by the cities that controlled that portion of the river.

But why so many ruins?  During the 17th Century, the Middle Rhine and Moselle were increasingly the scene of a long-lasting conflicts between Germany and France. After devastation of the Thirty Years’ War****, the  War of the Palatine Succession***** brought in 1688-1692 further destruction of castles and fortifications part of the cities’ defenses.

 Aren’t you glad you asked?

* Briefly,  In 500 BC the Roman Empire was a small enclave in western Italy centered around. Rome. By the time of Christ the Empire had grown to include most of Europe, the Near East, and much of coastal Northern Africa (Pax Romana). .For the next 500 years, or so, The Empire suffered many serious crises: repeated civil wars, barbarian invasions, and mass mortality during  the Plague..  By 500 AD the Empire all but ceased to exist as an empire. Is this brief enough? 

** Because of the Empire’s vast extent and long endurance, the institutions and culture of Rome had a profound and lasting influence on the development of language, religion, architecture, philosophy, law, and forms of government in the territory it governed, particularly Europe.

*** Most countryside castles began not as palaces for princes, but as armored bunkers to protect landowners, their harvest, hired hands, and the foolhardy traveler who might pass through (some castles also “protected” key roads and rivers, extorting tolls from all who trespassed).

**** The Thirty Years’ War(1618–1648) was a series of wars principally fought in Central Europe, involving most of the countries of Europe. It was one of the longest and most destructive conflicts in European history, and one of the longest continuous wars in modern history.

***** The War of the Palatine Succession (most commonly known as The Nine Years War).  was a major war of the late 17th century fought between King Louis XIV of France, and a European-wide coalition: The Grand Alliance (Anglo-Dutch, Spain, and the major and minor princes of the remnants of the Holy Roman Empire).  The war began when Louis XIV army invaded the Rhineland  in September 1688. His army took many of the key cities in the Palatinate. He became worried that the mobilized German army would  invade France.  To prevent this, he implemented a scorched earth  policy as the French made their way back to France.  All the main cities, towns and castles of the Palatinate where burned to the ground or destroyed.
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