Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Limburg, Koblenz, Germany, Stein am Rheim, Switzerland

Limburg an der Lahn (population 35,000) isn't on the tourist trail but, I heard this town on the Lahn River has a nice medieval city center.
The highest spot in Limburg is occupied by Saint George's Cathedral and a castle. Behind the cathedral on the right is the castle entrance and it's locked.
Another part of Limburg's medieval old town. As always, my biggest priority is to make sure I don't miss a bakery tucked away on a side street.
Arriving in Koblenz (population 100,000) visitors are treated to a real jaw-dropper. That's German Emperor Wilhelm I of Prussia atop a horse on a gigantic pedestal. Wille (I'm only kidding-I wonder if anybody ever called him that?) was King of Prussia (1861-1888) and was then evidently promoted to German Emperor (1871-1888) at the same time in 1871.   
 Koblenz is where two rivers connect. This is the Moselle River.
This is the Rhine River. Up on the hill standing guard over this this strategic shipping route is imposing Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. Built between 1817-1832, it was never attacked.
This is Rhine at its confluence with the Moselle, If one were to turn around and look to the rear, that gigantic equestrian statue of  German Emperor Wilhelm I would be right behind.  
So, the highlight of this German cycling trek was to be the 40 miles along the Rhine River from Koblenz to Bingen, known as the Rhine Gorge, a distance of about 40 miles. It doesn't disappoint. What's the big deal? This complete area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2002. Why? Because of geological, historical, cultural and industrial reasons. This narrow gorge with its own microclimate has steep vineyards glistening in the sun and idyllic picturesque medieval villages around every river bend. Castles or castle ruins perch high above the valley floor and best of all, you are cycling on a separate road reserved for cyclists. Most of the villages take advantages of the multitudes of thirsty passing touring cyclists by conveniently having beer gardens next to the river. Up on the hill in this photo stands Stolzenfels Castle. Built in 1259 and in ruins for 150 years, it was rebuilt in 1826 by Frederick William IV of Prussia for use as a summer residence. Things don't go my way--the castle is open every day EXCEPT Monday and of course, today is Monday.
Castles on the other side of the river make for great picture taking but, it's frustrating as I'd love to visit this castle (Marksburg Castle) but bridges to the other side are few and no ferry service. I'd have to cycle 12 miles back, cross a bridge, then cycle 12 more miles to visit. Then, there's the good possibility of my huffing and puffing up to the castle only to find out it isn't open today, undergoing renovation or, it's privately-owned and visitors aren't welcome.
This is using my zoom lens to get a closer look at Marksburg Castle. It has been standing for 700 years and is the only hill castle on the Rhine which was never destroyed,
This is looking up at Klopp Castle from Bingen's (population 25,000) town center. 
 The view from Klopp Castle. Note the vineyards on the hillside way off in the distance.
This is the entrance to Stein am Rhein (population 3,000) in Switzerland near the border with Germany. The town's well-preserved medieval city center is a real jewel.
 Tons of tourists, including a zillion cyclists following the Rhine River, jam the streets.
 Beautiful fountains, also good for filling up one's water bottle.
 Crossing the Rhine River via Stein am Rhein's bridge.
 It's 90 degrees and the river sure looks inviting.
That's Hohenklingen Castle lording over Stein am Rhein.

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