The Rhine River
26.09.2009 - 27.09.2009 26 °C
We arrived yesterday in Bacharach and have had a very interesting time here. Our hotel is built right on top of the original wall for the city and overlooks the 820 mile Rhine River and the railway. Surprisingly the trains did not bother our sleep. Yesterday we did a walking tour of Bacharach (compliments of Rick Steves) which included a climb to the top of a city tower. This gave us an incredible view of the medieval town below and the Stahleck Castle above which is now a youth hostel hosting 40,000 travellers per year. For 300 years (1300 - 1600) Bacharach was big (population of 4000), rich, and politically powerful. Like Rothenburg the 30 year war and plague, and fires, did Bacharach in and there are now only about 1000 people. The oldest building in the town is Altes Haus from 1368 and some of its windows still look medieval as do some in our hotel - small flattened circles as panes pieces together with molten lead. The glass pieces are small because that is all the glass blowing technology of the time would allow. Today we travelled downstream by train to St. Goar and returned to Bacharach by a Rhine River cruise boat which took a little over an hour. At St. Goar we toured Rheinfuls Castle, once the biggest castle on the Rhine, built in 1245. It withstood many seiges until 1797 when the French Revolutionary Army destroyed it. Today while still mighty it is only 1/5th of its original size. This hollow but interesting shell offers the single best hands-on ruined-castle experience on the river. It was very interesting and also houses a museum - we spent 2.5 hours exploring. The Rhine Cruise back to Bacharach offered incredible views of more castles including Katz Castle, built in 1371, which got Napoleoned in 1806 and rebuilt in 1900. This castle stands empty, purchased by a Japanese businessman for $4 million in 1995. He was unable to carry out his renovation plans of this protected historic building so it stands empty and deserted today. At Oberwesel which is a Celtic town which was established in 400 BC and then became a Roman military station. Here above the town we saw the Schönburg Castle. A little further along we passed Gutenfels Castle and the Pfalz Castle built in the river in the 1300`s. This stretch of the Rhine from St. Goar to Bacharach, although very short, is apparently the most scenic. The weather is still beautiful and the leaves are really starting to turn colours. Tomorrow off to Amsterdam and then home!!!