Sunday, September 26, 2010

Neustadt a.d. Weinstrasse, Germany

I've left France for a few days and crossed the border into Germany. Didn't arrive in Neustadt (population 53,000) until 6:30 PM and wish I didn't have to be on the road the next morning by 6 AM as it's a delightful place with the old town area having a slew of gorgeous half-timbered homes. There are over two dozen towns with the name Neustadt in Germany. The official name for this place is Neustadt a.d. Weinstrasse--which translates to "new city on the wine route". Yep, Neustadt is the beginning to one of Germany's most popular wine routes. About 50 miles long, the area is known as the Tuscany of Germany as it enjoys the warmest climate in the country.

After dinner and walking through the old town I look up on a hillside and spot a castle. It's about 8:30 PM and still plenty of light so I grab my bike and head up to check out the castle. That's not the castle in this first photo but a large mansion (now a hotel)--the castle is directly behind it.

Can't get a picture of the whole castle as the road ends but on the left of the photo you can see walls of the castle.

Again this is just a side view of the castle--it's a private home. Though they are in German I can understand what the signs say that are posted where I'm standing taking this photo. "no trespassing". Posing as a dumb American tourist I can get away with pretending not to understand the sign------- as it's not too much of a reach for me to play dumb.
The hillside area is filled with many, many beautiful turn-of-the-century mansions and from what I gather most were built by wealthy wine merchants.

The reason for this excursion into Germany is to visit Landau, population 40,000, located about 20 miles from Neustadt. Back in the 1600's this region was part of France and during King Louis XIV's reign he ordered famous French miliary engineer Vauban to build a citadel (fortress) in Landau. As you know I'm hot on the trail of Vauban's works. The citadel was built between 1688-1699 and even in 1789 when the town's population was only 5,000 inhabitants--this place was considered Europe's strongest fortress. Several books read on Vauban mention Landau being one of his best works. One book mentioned the citadel being torn down and replaced by a university but, several parts of the fortress could still be seen amongst the undergrowth.

Major disappointment as medieval fortifications were now where to be found! These two photos are of the main square. Lots of beautiful turn-of-the-century buildings in town as many prosperous wine merchants lived here.

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