Castles and more on the Romantic Rhine
A highlight of my recent Rhine River cruise was our stop at Rudesheim. We visited Benedictine sites related to the early church theologian , author and prophetess, Saint Hildegard of Bingen. She founded two monasteries, one in Bingen and the other at Rudesheim. The Church of Saint Hildegard stands on the site of the Rudesheim monastery and houses her relics. The Benedictines formed a new Abbey on top of the hill overlooking Rudesheim and the old monestary. The Abbey Church of St. Hildegard was built in the early 1900s in the Romanesque style. The panoramic view from the Abbey is spectacular. The Church is light and airy, with murals that tell Saint Hildegard’s story. Saint Hildegard lived from 1098 to 1179.
The rule of St. Benedict, more than 1400 years old, requires followers to “live by the work of their hands.” You can see the vineyards covering the hillside that fulfill part of this requirement. The sisters also occupy themselves with a book and art shop, restoring books and manuscripts, goldsmithing and candle making.
Don’t leave Rudesheim without having their famous drink of coffee with brandy! And walk the famous walking street, “Droselgasse.” The Romans brought vineyards to the region. Riesling is the predominant wine produced in the area.
From Rudesheim to Cologne is an area of the Rhine designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and known as the Romantic Rhine. Castles dot the hills along the river. It is delightful to observe and photograph the historic and picturesque sites while your ship moves along the river.
As we floated down the Rhine, the ship provided a “Fruhschoppen” or tasting of German food including beer and wine. We continued to observe quaint villages, steep slopes, vineyards and more castles!
We saw the rock of the Lorelei. The rock symbolizes the legend of the maiden Lorelei, whose singing lured sailors to their death on the rocks. A tower on an island in the middle of the river was used to collect tolls in the 13th and 14th centuries.
From Mannheim, we took an excursion to charming, historic Heidelberg.
The Heidelberg castle dates from the 13th century. The largest beer vat holding 55,000 gallons, and known as the Great Vat, is housed here.
The University of Heidelberg is the oldest University in Germany dating from 1386. It has more than 30,000 students. Excelling at physics, chemistry and medicine, the school has had 15 Nobel Prize winners since 1901
Our final stop was in Strasbourg, capital of the Alsace region of France. It is a most attractive city and home to the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights. Don’t miss the magnificent Gothic cathedral with its fascinating astronomical clock with many moving parts.
The famous French National Anthem, La Marseillaise, was composed here.
I highly recommend a Romantic Rhine River Cruise!
Next time on Travel Explorations: Composer Edvard Grieg’s birthday party in Bergen, Norway.
This is Katherine Satrom for Prairie Public.
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