Thursday 25 May 2017

Castles in the air

In France it's the chateaux (so I believe). Down the Rhine gorge in Germany it's castles.

Most of those we passed today seemed to date from the 13th centre or thereabouts, though misfortune or the French resulted in many of them needing numerous phases of construction or repair over the centuries.

They appeared at regular half-mile intervals, each overlooking its village or small town. The family of one of them had enterprisingly set up a fortified toll post to make a small fortune from the traffic on the river…

The rest of the architecture along the banks was mostly typical of era and region.

Churches and houses followed similar patterns, except for this pair:

The building in front is a pub. The one behind, to which it is attached, is the church which owns the pub! This appears to date from when every monastery in this region, which has been growing vines since Roman times, produced its own vintage and sold it to help with the building fund.

Today's stop was at Rüdesheim – an archetypical wine-growing town given over, among other things, to a lot of tourism.

We headed for the most fabulous "Siegfried's Mechanical Music Museum", which has a glorious collection of mechanical music devices.

Boxes of this size (and there were a fair number) made a fair amount of fairground organ-type noise. This wonderful instrument…

worked on a pianola principle but, in addition to the keyboard, had half a dozen violins in the upper section which were also activated by the music roll. Magnificent!

Rüdesheim is also renowned for being the location of the "Niederwalddenkmal" monument, which you reach, if you want to avoid the climb, by cable car.

The top of the hill has large areas given over to woodland, where we got a nice, shady stroll, but the central attraction is the monument itself.

It was constructed in the 1870s to celebrate the victory of Germany in the Franco-Prussian war and the creation of the German Empire, and is topped by the figure of "Germania", holding a sword pointed down as a symbol of peace.

It's been a very nice day – the weather perfect for the things we've been doing. It's set to get warmer!


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