Romantic Hwy, Germany
On August 3rd, 2017; I had the change to explore Germany’s Romantic Road. The Romantic Road is Germany’s dream route for individual holidays and bespoke travel itineraries.
Since I had one day to explore, I focused on three locations, (Neuschwanstein, Nordlingen and Rothenburg).
Neuschwanstein is a fantasy made real —a fairytale castle festooned with balconies and turrets, rising high above the trees in the Bavarian Alps, (pictured above).
Vast and substantial, it is the work of a leading set-painter called Christian Jank, and was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-86) as a backdrop against which he might act out the stuff of German romantic legend. Ludwig had grown up in the nearby castle of Hohenschwangau, a medieval fortress restored by his father, Maximilian II, and decorated with wall paintings depicting, among other subjects, the legend of Lohengrin. He ordered Neuschwanstein to be built from 1869 onwards, taking the Wartburg (in Saxony) as his prototype and setting it, a five-storied palace, on a wild, romantic cliff above the Alpsee and the Pollatschlucht waterfall and decorating it richly with lofty rooms and slender towers.
The magnificent residential and formal rooms of the Neuschwanstein Castle, are decorated almost exclusively with pictures and symbols from German pre-history, with the legendary figures of Siegfried and and illustrations of the fabled singers’ competition and the Meistersinger. The King exceeded himself in these extra-vagantly decorated rooms with the Sangersaal or Singers’ Room, which takes up the entire length of the fourth floor and is a copy of Tannhauser’s legendary castle.
Next I headed north into Central Germany along the romantic highway. There I came across two ancient walled cities: Rothenburg, and Nordlingen.
Nordlingen, has a population of approximately 19,190. It was built in an impact crater, and was first mentioned in recorded history in 898 AD.
In Nordlingen, the Rieskrater Museum houses a collection of meteorites that originated from a meteor that collided with the earth 15 million year ago and made the crater which is now the stretch of countryside called the Nordlingen Ries. Since the Apollo 14 & 17, astronauts completed their training here in 1970. We know that a major meteor, travelling at about 100,000 km/hr., hit the earth and generated the heat which produced new geological formations similar to the craters of the moon.
Another attraction, (pictured below), in Nordlingen is the Saint George’s Church’s 90 m steeple (not seen in the picture), called “Daniel”, which is made of a suevite impact-breccia that contains shock quartz from the meteorite that formed the impact crater. Dedicated in 1505 as one of the largest churches of it’s king in southern Germany, it contains a baroque-style High Altar with late Gothic sculpture and altar panels and a late Gothic fount.
Rothenburg is well known for its well-preserved medieval old town, a destination for tourists from around the world. Pictured below, (facing south) is the Marktplatz for Rothenburg. The building on the right, is the magnificent Rathaus, or town hall, of the Renaissance (1572-78). The arcades were added in 1681. The Gothic western part of the building with the slender clock towers serves as a reminder of the old town hall.
Pictured below, a few meters further southwards, from Plonlein, you can see two town gates at once, which were built when the town was extended in 1204; the defensive gate of the Kobolzeller Tor with its barbican leading down into the valley where, far below it, the double bridge has spanned the Tauber since 1330; and the Siegersturm which became superfluous when the town was extended for the second time in the 14th century and it then formed the entrance to the new suburb, the Spitalviertel.