We arose early and had a very pleasant walk to the boat landing on the Rhein. I took passage to Bingen, and, as I had time, I returned to have a look at the old Irish Church (Schotten Kirche) of Gross St. Martin, which formerly was on an island in the Rhine and now is prominent on pictures of Cologne on account of its imposing tower, which is 270 feet high.
The existing church was consecrated in 1172 and has a fine porch covered with a groined vaulting. The windows are new and have been made at Innsbrook. A fine marble front with lion heads and foliage is said to have been presented by Pope Leo III in 803.
Returning to the boat we found our baggage waiting us and had it checked, and, as we steamed up the river, we had another opportunity to look at the majestic city of Cologne with its cathedral, numerous towers and lofty bridge.We had taken passage on an Express Steamer, beautifully fitted up, which makes only a few important landings.
It is impossible to describe all the pretty villages, quaint old churches, modern chateaus, villas and old ruined castles which we passed on this trip. The first town of importance is Bonn with its Munster and University, next Godesberg with its pretty villas and its ruined castle situated on a conical hill. Then Drachenfels with its ruin 908 feet above the Rhine.
Rolandseck, one of the most beautiful spots on the river, surrounded by numerous villas with a ruined castle perched on a basaltic rock 345 feet above the river, is said to have been built by the Knight Roland the paladin of Charlemagne.
Andermach, a small and ancient town with narrow streets and still, to a great extent, surrounded by its old walls, extends picturesquely along the bank of the river above which rise conspicuously the old bastion, the Rhinetor and the lofty watch tower.
Neuwied was founded in 1653 on the site of a village destroyed in the Thirty Years War by Count Wied, who invited numerous settlers without distinction of religion. The population now consists of Protestants, Catholics, Moravian Brothers, Baptists, and Jews who have lived together here in great harmony since that period.
The Moravian Brothers, also called Herrenhuter from H. in Saxon where they established themselves after their expulsion from Moravia during the 30 Years War, occupy a separate part of the town. They were originally followers of John Huss. They are called the Quakers of Germany. Their unmarried brethren live in a separate building and carry on different trades, the profits of which are devoted to the community. They also have “Love feasts” like we Methodists. [Editor’s note: The Love Feast, also known as an agape meal, is meant to recall the meals Jesus shared with disciples, embodying the community and fellowship enjoyed by Christians.]
Approaching Coblenz, we had a fine a view of the imposing monument of Emp. William I. The copper equestrian figure of the emperor, 46 feet in height, accompanied by a genius 30 feet high, is supported by an architectural basis and stands upon the point of land between the Rhein and Mosel, called the “Deutsche Eck.”
This is a beautiful spot, being the junction of two of the most picturesque rivers in Europe. Opposite the influx of the Mosel rises the Fortress of Ehrenbreitstein, 385 feet above the Rhine, on a precipitous rock connected with the neighboring heights on the one side only.
Next we saw the castle of Stolzenfels, with a pentagonal tower 110 feet high, property of Emp. Wilhelm II, Konigstuhl (King’s seat), erected on the site of an ancient meeting place of the Electors where many emperors were elected, decrees issued and treaties concluded.
Boppard, the ancient Bidobriga, founded by the Celts and afterwards used by the Romans as a depot for their slingers, has many of the old buildings, one of which, the old Castle, could be plainly seen from the boat, also the remains of a Wall constructed of Roman Concrete, sometime in 365. It was 10 feet thick and 26 feet high and enclosed the city in the form of a rectangle 1000 feet long by 500 feet wide. How is that for solidity?
Say, the Lodge of the Knights Templar of Boppard mentioned among the crusaders at the siege of Ptolemais in 1191 can be seen in one of the side streets, i.e., the ruins anyhow. But I must hurry on, else we will never get to Bingen.
The Brothers, the castles of Sterrenberg and Liebenstein connected by a sharp chain of rock, have a very interesting legend about two brothers having the same maiden, etc. St. Goar is interesting, too, for here every traveler who visited the town for the first time had to submit to the water or wine ordeal. If the former was selected, a good ducking was the result. The pleasanter alternative was to drink a goblet of wine to the members of the society which enforced obedience to the custom.
Of course, when the steam boats began their traffic in 1827, it put an end to this curious old custom. The castle of Rheinfels, rising at the bank of the town, is the most imposing ruin on the river. It was founded sometime in 1200 by a count with the interesting name of Katzenelnbogen (elbow of cat) and destroyed some 500 years later.
I wasn’t there at the time, but I can vouch for its being a ruin all right. There is another castle nearby called “Neu Katzenellbogen,” or the Katz, which was built in 1393 and destroyed in 1806, but upon its ruin the present owner has built himself a castle-like house.
And now we approached the Lorelei, an imposing rock 430 feet above the Rhine, around which plays the well-known legend of the fairy who, like the sirens of old, enticed sailors and fishermen to the destruction in the rapids at the foot of the precipice. Heine has a beautiful ballad, “Ich Weiss nicht was sol les bedeuten, dass ich so traurin bin,” etc. Here is the narrowest and deepest part of the river.
Above Oberwesel rises the modern chateau and the picturesque old ruin of Schonburg, the cradle of a once mighty race (which became extinct in 1713) and now the property of Messrs. Rhinelander of New York. “Sic transit gloria mundo!”
On a ledge of rock in the middle of the Rhein rises the Pfalz, a hexagonal building 700 years old and well preserved, with turrets and jutting corners, loopholes in every direction and one entrance only.
Bacharach, noted for its wine at an early period of which Pope Pius II had a cask brought to Rome annually, and Nürnberg obtained its freedom for a yearly tribute to the Emperor Wenzel of four Tounen of the Bacharach Wine, and now the old castles, some so thick and fast that I can hardly keep up with them.
Stahlock, Furstenberg, Nollich, with the Devils Ladder which a Knight once scaled on horseback and thus gained the hand of his lady love. The old town of Lorch mentioned in a charter as early as 832, and once upon a time the favorite residence of noble families; Heimberg a castle recently restored and the Moranders castle Falkenburg, a genuine Raubritters next, the picturesque castle of Rheinstein, restored by Prince Frederick in 1825 and now the property of the Emp. brother Prince Heinrich, is a fine sample of a mediaeval castle. And here is good old Assmanshausen, celebrated for its wine and a favorite resort of the artists and writers.
Beyond this town, we reached the Binger Loch, a rapid caused by the narrowness of the channel, the widening of which has been the work of ages from the Roman period down to the most recent times.
Above the rapids rises the tower of Ehrenfels, erected some 800 years ago, which was the frequent residence of the archbishops of Mainz in the 15th century.
And now we had a full view of the steep slopes of the Rudesheimer Berg, upon which terrace rises above terrace to secure the soil from falling and all covered with vines. The hill is completely covered with walls and arches, the careful preservation of which will give you an idea of the value of the vines.
Opposite the castle, on a quartz rock in the middle of the Rhein, is situated the Mouse Tower which derives its name from the legend that the cruel Archbishop Hutto, having caused a number of poor people, whom he compared to mice bent on devouring his corn, to be burned in a barn during a famine, sought refuge in this tower from the mice, which persecuted him everywhere, and was devoured alive.It is, however, really an old watch tower for which purpose it is used to this day. The valley of the Rhine expands here and the district of the Rheingabl, which was once probably a lake, is entered and Bingen comes into view. The old Romans had a castle here and, in the year 70 after Christ, a battle was fought here between them and the Gauls.
On the site of the old Roman fortress rises the castle of Klopp, which is put to good use by the city officials for offices. We had a fine supper at the Deutsche Haus where we stopped for the night. The weather was pleasant enough to allow us to sit in the garden, but for the first time we were bothered by mosquitoes. But I must close, it is 12 o’clock at night and I must get to bed.
Ta ta, Pa pa.
“Song of the Lorelei”
by Heinrich Heine, translated by Peter Shor
I don’t know why I am feeling
So sorrowful at heart.
An old myth through my thoughts is reeling,
And from them will not depart.
The cool evening air makes me shiver
As I watch the Rhine’s gentle flow.
The peak towering over the river
Gleams bright in the sun’s setting glow.
Up high on a ledge is sitting
A maiden most marvelously fair.
Her golden jewelry is glitt’ring.
She is combing her golden hair.
She uses a gold comb to comb it.
And sings a song as well,
That echoes down off the summit
And casts a melodic spell.
The boatman is seized by wild yearning
While guiding his small craft downstream.
His eyes from the rocks ahead turning,
He looks up, lost in a dream.
I fear that the boat and her master
Will soon underwater lie.
And what brought about this disaster?
The song of the Lorelei.