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Posts Tagged ‘World Heritage List’

Trier – Roman treasure chest

The next part of our trip will give you the opportunity to familiarize yourself with Roman history and architecture as we make our way towards Trier, one of the four cities claiming to be the oldest in Germany. Presumably it was founded in the late 4th century BC by Celts (Treuorum) and conquered by the Romans by 16 BC and ‘renamed’ Augusta Treverorum. Modern Trier might not necessarily come across as a thriving metropolis, but during Roman times it managed to maintain a high profile and during the 4th century was even one of the five biggest cities of the known world with a population ranging from 75,000 to 100,000.1200px-Trier_Porta_Nigra_BW_4

Our guided tour through town will give you a good idea about the rich history this town has been steeped in and you will see why you can call the whole city a UNESCO World Heritage site. One of the main sights will be the Porta Nigra, the black gate, guarding one entrance to the city.

Porta Nigra

Trier_Porta_Nigra_ModelOriginally designed to be part of a four tower system guarding the entrances to the city, this is the last remaining one and the largest remaining one in Europe north of the Alps. As the Roman influence waned, the gates were not needed as such and slowly dismantled to be used for other buildings. This ended when in 1030 the Greek monk Simeon had himself walled into one of the rooms to spend the rest of his life in prayer and meditation. Soon after his death and canonization in 1035 the monastery Simeonstift was built next to it and the ruin itself received a new lease of life by being converted into a church. Trier_model800It served this purpose until 1804 when Napoleon revoked the conversion and had it converted back to its original form. During peak season some of the guided tours involve a centurion, explaining in detail the construction and history of the gate!

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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Cruising through Germany on two wheels

As you might remember from some of our previous articles, discovering Germany with us will at some stage involve a bicycle. At Sidetracks we think a bike is an excellent way of covering a decent distance and still having the leisure to enjoy your surroundings, town and country alike. So for the next season in Germany we have put together three exciting bike tours that will take you through different parts of Germany and can be combined with our other tours. These tours will not only keep you fit cycling, but take you on a ride discovering Germany’s history, culture and traditions. Today I want to introduce the tours and the regions they cover in general and in the following weeks we will present to you some of the highlights of these tours.

Main River Bike Trail

"Roter Main (Bayreuth)" by Tafkas - Own work.

“Roter Main (Bayreuth)” by Tafkas – Own work.

This 5 star trail will take you through picturesque towns of the Main valley starting in the festival town of Bayreuth and finishing in Würzburg, a UNESCO world heritage city which dates as far back as the 4th century. Along the river you will get to see other stunning examples of architecture throughout the centuries and experience a variety of local cuisine, wines and beers as we move from traditional beer brewing country to wine growing region.

Saar Moselle Bike Trail

Saarschleife by Niesefrosch Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwikiFileSaarschleife.jpg#mediaFileSaarschleife.jpg

Saarschleife by Niesefrosch

This is a wine lovers’ kind-of trail: along two rivers famous for their wine growing and wine making history we will take you on a journey through time. From the UNESCO heritage site (Völklinger Hütte) to breath taking views from mountain tops (Saar Loop), a medieval castle (Burg Eltz) and to the Villas and Baths from Roman times (Porta Nigra, Villa Rustics and Imperial Baths). By the end of the trip you will have enjoyed more than your share of art, architecture and history on top of having a taste of the renowned wines of this region.

Weser River Bike Trail

599px-Minden_an_der_Weser-FachwerkhäuserAlmost smack-bang in the middle of Germany this tour takes you through a region rich in history and stories. Along the river Weser you will get to see buildings dating from the Romans (Porta Westfalica) through the Middle Ages to the Baroque Period, all set in small rural towns and all with different characters. From porcelain manufacturing to perfume making to the birthplaces of some truly unique characters of German folklore. One special feature of our ride will be discovering the huge range of half-timbered houses prevalent in this area. By the end of the tour you will have gained an interesting insight into middle German history and culture.

Last comment…

…for today that is: as electric bikes are becoming increasingly more popular, we will be offering the use of those on our tours as well. All the tours are quite easily manageable with ‘normal’ bikes, but if you would like to, you can experience the difference for an additional charge. Please get in contact with us if you’d like to know more about electric bikes or our tours.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Historic warehouses and offices in Hamburg protected

"Chilehaus Hamburg 2013" by Sebastian Warneke - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chilehaus_Hamburg_2013.jpg#/media/File:Chilehaus_Hamburg_2013.jpg

Chilehaus Hamburg 2013 by Sebastian Warneke

We are proud to announce that another destination on our tour ‘Cosmopolitan North’ has been declared worth protecting and became a UNESCO world heritage site. The distinct brick warehouses and offices along the canals and inner city of Hamburg’s ‘Speicherstadt’, ‘Kontorhausviertel’ and ‘Chilehaus’ have been deemed relevant as symbols of the rapid international growth of trade of the 19th and 20th century. In earlier articles we have already introduced other items of interest in Hamburg, here’s a bit more about the ‘Speicherstadt’ now.

Money talks, even then!

Unicode

To be able to accommodate the need for more storage and processing space in the harbour, over 20.000 people had to be relocated and over a 1000 buildings levelled before building on the new warehouses and office blocks could begin in 1883. Workers and labourers found new homes in the new high rises in Barmbek and Hammerbrook, while other home owners converted their summer batches along the Alster or Elbe into the main family homes.

Bricks, bricks and some more bricks

"Chilehaus (Hamburg-Altstadt).Detail.5.ajb" by Bild: © Ajepbah / Wikimedia Commons /. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 de via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chilehaus_(Hamburg-Altstadt).Detail.5.ajb.jpg#/media/File:Chilehaus_(Hamburg-Altstadt).Detail.5.ajb.jpg

Chilehaus (Hamburg-Altstadt).Detail.5 by Ajepbah

From a New Zealand perspective these buildings must seem utterly incongruous: as far as the eye can see beautiful dark red brick buildings with ornate fronts and highly detailed and decorated rooflines. An earthquake conscious engineers’ nightmare! Their designs are classic examples of Gothic Revival architecture and as such represent the revived mercantile attitudes of the entrepreneurial Middle Ages. Show of wealth was in, so bigger, taller and prettier was the motto of the day for the architects. Photos can give you only a limited impression of these distinct buildings, so come and join us on our two tours discovering the mercantile and architectural history of Germany’s northern cities.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

 

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Germany’s traditional wines under threat

On our Rhine and Romans tour  you have a chance to see some of Germany’s oldest wine growing areas located on some of the world’s steepest slopes. These vineyards are in danger of being abandoned due to the hard manual labour and their maintenance costs. While one hectare on flat ground requires around 180 hours of labour, the equivalent slope hectare requires up to 1500 hours AND abseiling knowledge. Since 1970 the area of commercially used vineyards on “true” slopes (> 60% incline) has decreased from 12,000 hectares down to less than 8,000 hectares. The costs will be even harder to justify once the European Union stops the restrictions on the size of wine growing areas for each country. Each country will be able to increase its area by one percent per year, which will create more competition for the already pricey specialty wines.

Romantic views succumb to wilderness

But this is not just a problem for the wine growing industry, the tourism industry would suffer heavily as well. As readers of our tour blogs might remember, the Moselle and Rhine region are particularly picturesque and on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The description mentions “…the vineyard terraces that define this prosperous and picturesque stretch of the Rhine valley and encompass all the key views that influenced writers and artists.”

Traditional wine makers given a helping hand with modern technology

So, for the past ten years a dedicated team of researchers and technicians of the Geisenheim University have been working on a solution: “Geisi”. Looking like a cross between Fred Flintstone’s family car and NASA’s Mars rover the prototype has been making its way around some of the steeper slopes (>80%) and trying it’s “hands” at viticulture. Even though its current size is not quite right yet for the old fashioned narrow rows of the vineyards, the team is confident that the next model will be a bit skinnier and still be able to do all the necessary jobs of pruning and harvesting.Geisi03_1023

Market potential

At a recent trade show in Stuttgart they could have sold at least 10 models already, which is encouraging for the developers.  But, they’re not just working on a mechanical help for these vineyards, they are also developing new growing strategies, which would reduce the necessary labour and still produce good to excellent quality wines. One of these strategies comes from Australia and has already produced interesting results: smaller grapes, but less loss from mould damage. And the bottled wine, a tangy dry Riesling “Kauber Rauschely”, will be evaluated by the concerned and interested vineyard owners. Nothing proves a point like a perfect product.

On that note, Prost!

 

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

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