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Pfarrkirche St.KillianBaroque architecture

Before heading off to Volkach we make a little trip to Theres, a small community that has an interesting selection of buildings from the Baroque period. As this period covered 200 years of building history, the range of designs and decorations are quite remarkable. This can be seen mainly in the numerous churches and wayside shrines in the region. Because a lot of church properties were privatised in the early 19th century, many of them are now privately or commercially owned and operated. Interesting examples to view are on the main road (Bundesstrasse 17)) the Catholic vicarage from 1750, St. Killian church (1728/30)  and along the cycle path the Crucification group attributed to Johann Peter Wagner.

Untertheres_KreuzigungsgruppeTraditional wine growing region

We are now moving into the driest and hottest wine growing region in Germany and will discover what kind of wines this climate can produce. Our trip will take us through the village of Fahr, home of the ‘world famous’ Bocksbeutel. This intriguing bottle shape is protected in Europe and used for only a few specific wines.

The name is of particular interest, as its origin can be referenced to two different words: one denominates a bag to protect prayer or song books (Booksbüdel) while the other implies that it looks like a ram’s scrotum (Bokesbudel). As both explanations can be reasonably proven, it seems that both contributed to its modern day usage.frankenwein

Our destination for today, Volkach, has been the historic wine growing centre of the region since the 17th century and has renewed its fame for making excellent white wines, especially, but not exclusively, Silvaner, whose reputation suffered a bit from the Liebfrauenmilch debacle in the 70’s. Modern wine makers now are using its subtle flavours to produce elegant wines that are easily matched with foods and becoming more and more appreciated. Other varieties that grow well here are Müller-Thurgau, Riesling and Traminer, all very specific and interesting tasting grapes. And for those of you who want to know more specific details about the huge range of wines and grapes here’s a very interesting and informative web site.

Maria_im_WeingartenEven in the Middle Ages Volklach has been a very popular tourist spot due to its numerous food markets, parish fairs and pilgrimages to the local church Maria in the vineyard. This has continued through to the 20th and 21st century with a lot of local wine and food festivals catching the visitors’ eyes and palates. Let your travel guide advise you what’s on special and enjoy the delicacies.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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Limbach_WeinbergPilgrimage church Maria Limbach

On our way to our next stop Haßfurt we come to the pilgrimage church Maria Limbach. The church was built in fulfilment of vows made by the Archbishop of Würzburg after the miraculous curing of his hip complaint. He had bequeathed a substantial amount of money and even though he died before construction had started, it was completed and consecrated nine years after his death. The church was designed by Johann Balthasar Neumann – one of the most important architects in southern Germany during the Baroque and Rococo period – whose most famous work you will get to see at the end of the tour: The Würzburg Residence.

1280px-Limbach9The pilgrimage church was designed in a late- Baroque or Rococo style which is mainly characterized by asymmetric designs and lighter, more playful decorations. The simple room structure of the church is contrasted by the rich and ornate interior design of the rococo stucco designs by Andreas Lunz. This juxtapositioning of architectural design elements was intended to draw more people back to the church and not alienate them through a display of feudal opulence.

Haßfurt

Haßfurt_Ritterkapelle_1

Haßfurt,_Marktplatz_1,_Rathaus,_003The town has been on records since the 13th century when it was given city rights. Having been part of the Churches’ estates, you will find a lot of churches in and around town and other buildings ranging in style from Romanesque city fortifications to Gothic churches and Renaissance private residences.

The road toward today’s destination is lined with vineyards and after discovering some of the sights in Haßfurt you will be able to sample some of the regions produce.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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Coming into Bamberg means being on the brink of leaving the beer making region of your cycle tour. The city is not only famous for its historic city center, but also for its huge range of beers. During your guided tour you will be able to discover the historic city centre and taste some of the local specialties.

History

Bamberg_town_hall_from_opposite_bridgeConflicts in the early Middle Ages meant that the city and its estates changed ownership a lot of times, which in turn meant political unrest and marauding soldiers throughout the rest of the Middle Ages. The one constant power throughout these times was the Catholic Church, which accounts for the higher than average number of churches in the city; around twice compared to the national average. Like Rome it was built on seven hills and sometimes referred to as Frankish Rome.

Bamberg-KleinVenedig1-AsioNot until the late 17th century did the city enjoy relative peace and quiet and was able to culturally blossom during the Baroque period. Right up to the early 1930’s Bamberg and its intellectuals were seen as radical democrats, which reached its peak in the declaration of the Bamberger Verfassung – the first democratic constitution for Bavaria – in 1919. The third Reich and WWII left their marks on the city, even though not physically: only a small percentage of the city fell during attacks, making the historic city center the largest undamaged one in Germany. In 1993 this was made official by its entry into the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Sights

Bamberg-Turm-EWThe guided tour will take you to the Imperial Cathedral, which is an excellent example of how architectural styles develop over the time it takes to construct a huge building and how the changes are incorporated into it. The cathedral was started in the Romanesque style which later developed into the Gothic style. The photo of the two towers demonstrates the differences perfectly.

Apart from the churches throughout the city, there are numerous private dwellings and educational institutions to admire. Discover on your tour how the city preserved its historic buildings and encouraged modern architecture to become part of an intriguing cityscape.Konzerthalle_Bamberg_Dämmerung_Peter_Eberts

All this sightseeing can make one very hungry and thirsty: what better way to find out about the local beer brewing traditions and local specialties by stopping for a bite at one of the remaining breweries: there used to be 68 breweries listed with 8 still up and running. A local specialty is ‘smoked beer’ which goes pretty well with a Schäufele, a hearty pork shoulder roast!

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

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Wagner and more

Sommernachtsfest The city of Bayreuth is a conglomeration of villages that attained city status in the early 13th century. The following centuries proved to be hard times, as the city was struck by disasters repeatedly, be it fires destroying parts of the town or the plague decimating the populace. This all turned for better at the beginning of the 17th century when Margrave Christian moved to Bayreuth in 1603. He initiated a building boom which continued until the end of the 18th century, when due to lack of successors and money, the last margrave abdicated and the territories became part of the Prussian empire on 2.12.1791. During its heyday under the rule of Margrave Frederick and Margravine Wilhelmina of Bayreuth (1735 – 1763) richly furnished private and public buildings were constructed in the baroque style.

800px-Markgräfliches_Opernhaus_-_Bayreuth_-_2013After its French occupation from 1806 – 1810 (result of a loss during the Napoleonic Wars), the principality was returned and became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria. As Bavaria was being opened up by connecting more and more towns to the railways, Bayreuth was on the main line between Nuremberg to Hof. More connections meant an increase in visitors and exposure. In due course Wagner heard about the Margrave Opera House – a UNESCO World Heritage List building – and came to inspect its suitability for his operas. He was disappointed and decided to build his own. The town supported him and he went on to create a world renowned festival. He would have been very pleased with himself if he knew that nowadays one has to get in line about 10 years in advance to secure a ticket to the highly coveted festival!

Modern Bayreuth

Even though Bayreuth is infamous for the Wagner festival, it has lots of other attractions for a visitor. Architecture for starters: despite having lost a third of its buildings in WWII the rest is kept in pristine shape to be admired during your guided tour. Baroque architecture was a manifestation of political absolutism and colonialism, putting the monarchs/popes/regents at the centre of attention. It created magnificent structures to glorify the rulers and demonstrate new found wealth and power.

roter mainThe success of the Wagner festival has created a market for other cultural festivals celebrating modern, folk, other classical music, theatre and museum activities throughout the year. Not to mention that due to its level topography and generous cycle lanes, it is particularly easy to explore the city and the surrounding landscapes along the Red Main river. The river gets its name from the fact that it runs through clayey soil and turns a reddish-brownish colour after heavy rains.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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Christmas-wreath-vectorAir NZ does it again

We would like to send you our best wishes for a Merry Christmas. May you be able to spend quality time with loved ones and have an enjoyable holiday break. We’ll see you again next weekend with more articles on our cycle tours and hope you enjoy the latest clip by Air New Zealand!

From all of us at Sidetracks.

 

 

 

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How to keep ones family happy

Burg Eltz (10561166416) by Dirk VorderstraßeFor one of our other tours we had already written a little piece about this stunning piece of feudal architecture in the Moselle region. What we didn’t tell you then was the fact that this is a current residence for one of the three family branches that own it. While two parts of the complex are generally open to the public – the third owned by the Kempenich side of the family – can only be viewed at particular times of the year.

Burg Eltz 14b by Evolutione003 - Own workThis makes it one of the oldest castles and for the longest period in the possession of one family. Anyone familiar with the problems of feudal ownership in England will understand the financial burden and commitment this family undertakes to maintain the structural integrity for its own history and for the public.

Allemagne07 08 0406 Burg Eltz by Daniel71953 [1] - Own workHistory can be taught in lots of ways, but there’s nothing like being there in person and getting a personal impression of the living conditions of the rich and the poor in those times. After your stroll around the premises tell us which part of the castle is your favourite: the detailed kitchen, opulent Armoury and Treasury or the courtyard surrounded by 500 years of architectural activity?!

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

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Historical meeting place

1280px-Koblenz_im_Buga-Jahr_2011_-_Deutsches_Eck_03Arriving in Koblenz you will see the artificial headland at the confluence of the Moselle and Rhine rivers called the German Corner – ‘Deutsches Eck’. Even though the term “Deutsches Eck” had been in use since 1216 when Archbishop Theoderich von Wied summoned the knights of the Teutonic Order to gift them a church, the associated hospital and some grounds to safeguard local health care, the area referenced by that term now transferred from these grounds to the headland in the 19th century.

Shortly after the death of Wilhelm I. in 1888 many people wanted to have a monument to honour and thank him for the hard-fought unification (three wars in 1864, 1866 and 1871) of Germany. His son chose Koblenz as site in 1891 due to its significance to his father’s and Germany’s history. After expanding the needed area and collecting 1 million Marks (!) through donations, the equestrian sculpture was dedicated in 1897 with his son in attendance.1280px-Deutsches_Eck_LOC

At the end of WWII the monument was destroyed by an artillery shell and the remains were removed and smelted to prevent scavenging. Parts of the figures turned up later and even the head of Wilhelm I, which now is exhibited at the Mittelrhein Museum in Koblenz. The French allies had intended to construct a monument promoting Peace and International Understanding, but the costs were too high and the plans got shelved.

In 1953 it was re-purposed to be a memorial to the German Union. The coat of arms of all the western German Federal States and the missing eastern ones were installed on the pedestal and a flag pole for the German Federal flag installed instead of a central figure.

With the re-unification in 1990 the five new federal states were added to the line-up.

Bring back the old

But, but, there’s a statue, horse, marshal and muse there! Yes indeed! All due to the dedication and financial support of private people again. In 1987 Werner Theisen and his wife Anneliese drew up a legal document pledging their support to the reconstruction of the destroyed monument.

Why? Not sure. It was for his 60th birthday and to commemorate their 30th wedding anniversary, but that still doesn’t quite explain why this couple dedicated such a huge sum of money (3 million Marks) to this particular venture.

As at that time Germany was still divided the offer was rejected as it could send the message that Germany had accepted its divided status. But after the fall of the wall and the official re-unification the politicians changed their tunes and after some tricky ‘gifting’ – meaning changing of financial responsibilities – the statue was finally allowed to be installed.

Rhein in FlammenRemarkably, the couple, believing in their mission, had ordered it already in 1989 and brought to Koblenz in 1992! Due to a different production technique than the original, the pedestal needed to be reinforced more and in September 1993 the statue was finally lifted into its place and inaugurated on the 25th of September that year.

The unification of Germany and its victims are being remembered with three concrete parts of the Berlin Wall which were erected near the monument in 1990.

Today the space is used not only to commemorate important times in Germany’s history, but to celebrate occasions every day. It is used to hold concerts, marathons, exhibitions and is an excellent viewing point for the annual Rhein in Flammen’ fireworks.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

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Tumultuous times for Cochem

Cochem,_MarktThe first recorded name for Cochem is ‘Cuchema’ in a gifting document from 866 AD. Then- and in the following centuries – the city and its surrounding districts changed ownership and allegiances quite frequently. Religion and politics were tightly interwoven during those times and territories given as fiefdoms, which was a revenue option for the owners, rulers or occupants. Trying to come to grips with the historic time line of the city and the castle towering over it and presenting a short overview is proving to be nearly impossible. The castle’s web site has managed to put together a short and succinct summary of the most important facts and figures for those of you who are keen on historical details.

Castle of modern times

cochemThe most important fact to know is that the castle you get to see today is not the one from the 11th and 12th century. That one was destroyed in 1689 by King Louis XIV during the Nine Year’s war. It took nearly 200 years, well really only 180, for the ruins to catch someone’s eye and the ‘new’ castle to be built. In 1868 the new owner Louis Fréderic Jacques Ravené was not interested in a reconstruction in the original Romanesque style, but wanted the ‘modern’ neo-Gothic style for his family’s summer residence! reichsburg_9_by_januaryguest-d3qt99qIn architectural context that was the same time when Schloss Neuschwanstein was conceived and built.

Walking around the beautifully maintained castle you can indulge your fantasy, pretend you’re in a fairy tale again and imagine what it would have been like for the rich and famous to spend time in their ‘holiday bach’!

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

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Fairytale beauty awaits you in Beilstein

BeilsteinMoselPanorama1 (2)Cycling along the Moselle you will have seen plenty of picturesque towns and villages by now, but none has the nickname of Sleeping Beauty of the Moselle.800px-Klosterkirche_Beilstein1 Stopping for a rest and refreshments in Beilstein you will quickly understand why. Even though it is really a small village, it was built to present the appearance of a town with all the trimmings: city centre, church and castle (ruins) on top of the nearby hill. Modern day Bielstein looks very much like its 17th and 18th century version and you can take it all in without having to spend days on your feet exploring all the neighbourhoods. 800px-Beilstein_BW_12Looking at the directory of Cultural Monuments for Rhineland Palatinate one can get the impression that the whole village is on the list!

As a summer attraction the village hosts a marionette theatre from Cochem, which performs various fairy tales. Part of the tradition is performing Sleeping Beauty to open and close the festival in recognition of the villages’ nickname.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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zell mosel (800x531)Zell and its famous cat

The city Zell has been around since Roman times, ~70AD, distinguishing itself through quiet perseverance in the face of changing rulers throughout the millennia. Until the 19th century when legend has it that in 1863 after an extensive tasting tour some wine merchants could not decide which wine to buy. During a snack break a black cat entered the cellar, sat on a cask and defended it ferociously. The merchants decided that that was the cask to get and bought it. The wine sold so successfully that they bought more of the wines from that particular growing area. Ultimately that region, “Grosslage”, was named after the black cat and a trademark was born.zell cat

Winegrowing – tourism

Both play an important role in the economy of the region, with Riesling wines the dominant variety produced here and the city’s picturesque buildings maintained beautifully to attract visitors. The success of these two is the foundation of the establishment of other industries in the closer region, like plastic manufacturers and craft businesses. We think this is a wonderful little place to discover and if you want to hear someone else’s opinion as well, here’s an article by a fellow Kiwi traveler.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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