Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Rhine River Valley

Today we took a beautiful and relaxing morning cruise through the Rhine River Valley.

Wine grapes have  been grown along the Rhine since Roman times.  The vineyards are beautifully terraced along the steep sides.  Today, most of the grapes grown here are Riesling grapes.

Some of the vines are young, 3-20 years old.  Some are medium age, 20-50 years old.  Some, 50 plus years, are considered old,  Using a mixture of these grapes gives the wine a complexity and balance.

Originally, some of the fortifications along the river were originally built to protect the vineyard owned by the church.

Also, half timbered houses, small villages, and castles high above the river abound.

All but one of the medieval castles along the Rhine were destroyed by the French in 1689 to weaken the German defenses.  A lot later many were rebuilt by the state or privately and are now private residences, hotels or hostels.

At one place you will see the Statue of Germania, like our Statue of  Liberty and from same time period, standing majestic, high in the vineyards.

In the 1950's Germany gave a mountain along the Rhine to the Netherlands so that they could use the rock to reinforce their dams.  Although Germany expected them to later return the mountain, the Netherlands has never given it back. So you still have a piece of the Netherlands on the banks of the Rhine.

Some tunnels along the Rhine were used by the Nazis to hide art and other valuables.  They were made to look like ancient fortifications by the Nazis because the allies had orders not to bomb the ancient castles and fortifications.

In one town there is a connected pub and church.  You must enter and exit the church through the pub.  I don't know which came first, the church or the pub.  Unique.  Have a pint or two on Saturday then proceed to church on Sunday to confess your sins.  One stop shopping.

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