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HI, I'M RICK STEVES, EXPLORING MORE OF THE BEST OF EUROPE.
THIS TIME, WE'RE GOING MEDIEVAL,
CRUISING RIVER GORGES STEEPED IN LEGEND
AND CLIMBING CASTLES
IN THE MOST ROMANTIC CORNERS OF GERMANY.
THIS TIME WE'RE ENJOYING THE CHARMS
OF GERMANY'S VILLAGES AND EVOCATIVE RUINS.
WHILE MOST OF THIS COUNTRY IS AN URBAN AND INDUSTRIAL POWERHOUSE,
THIS EPISODE IS ALL ABOUT STORYBOOK GERMANY.
AFTER CRUISING THROUGH A FAIRY-TALE WORLD
OF RHINE LEGENDS,
WE'LL CLIMB THROUGH MY FAVORITE CASTLE IN ALL OF EUROPE,
AND CHECK OUT A SLEEPY AND LAID-BACK ALTERNATIVE
TO THE RHINE.
WE SAMPLE FINE RHINE WINE,
LEARN THE HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS,
AND EXPLORE THE BEST-PRESERVED MEDIEVAL TOWN IN GERMANY,
WITH SOME HELP FROM THE NIGHT WATCHMAN.
GERMANY, ABOUT THE SIZE OF MONTANA,
WITH OVER TWICE THE POPULATION OF CALIFORNIA,
IS THE HEART OF EUROPE.
THIS TIME WE FOCUS ON GERMANY'S ROMANTIC RHINE REGION.
WE'LL CRUISE THE MOST CASTLE-STUDDED
STRETCH OF THE RHINE,
VISITING ST. GORE, BACHARACH, AND KOBLENZ
BEFORE EXPLORING THE MOSEL RIVER AND THE ELTZ CASTLE.
THEN WE VENTURE EAST TO ROTHENBURG.
WHILE THE RHINE IS OVER 800 MILES LONG,
THE 36-MILE STRETCH FROM MAINZ TO KOBLENZ
IS BY FAR THE MOST INTERESTING, AND THAT'S WHAT WE'RE EXPLORING.
IT'S NO COINCIDENCE
THAT THE GREAT MEDIEVAL SIGHTS OF EUROPE
LIE ALONG THE IMPORTANT TRADING ROUTES LIKE THE RHINE.
IT TOOK BIG MONEY TO BUILD THE STRUCTURES
THAT WE TRAVELERS WOULD MARVEL AT CENTURIES LATER.
SINCE ANCIENT TIMES,
THE RHINE HAS BEEN ONE OF THE WORLD'S BUSIEST RIVERS
AND THIS REGION'S MAJOR TRADING ROUTE.
TODAY THERE'S A STEADY FLOW OF BARGES WITH THOUSAND-TON LOADS,
WHILE BUSY TRAIN TRACKS AND HIGHWAYS LINE BOTH BANKS,
ALL UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYE OF ONCE-MIGHTY CASTLES.
MANY OF THE CASTLES WERE ROBBER BARON CASTLES,
EXTORTION STOPS, BUILT BY PETTY PRINCES AND TWO-BIT RULERS
BACK WHEN THERE WERE 350 INDEPENDENT LITTLE STATES
IN WHAT IS TODAY GERMANY.
THE SHIPSHAPE PFALZ CASTLE, ACTUALLY BUILT MID-STREAM,
EFFECTIVELY TAXED RIVER TRAFFIC.
ITS TOWN GREW RICH AS THE CASTLE
RAISED ITS HEAVY CHAINS ACROSS THE RIVER
WHEN BOATS CAME
AND LOWERED THEM
ONLY WHEN THE MERCHANTS HAD PAID THEIR DUTY.
ALONG THIS STRETCH, THERE WERE CUSTOM STOPS LIKE THIS
ABOUT EVERY SIX MILES.
NO WONDER MERCHANTS WERE EARLY SUPPORTERS
OF THE CREATION OF LARGER NATION STATES.
IN THE MIDDLE AGES, EMPERORS, POPES, AND THESE LITTLE PRINCES
WERE JOCKEYING FOR POWER AROUND EUROPE.
IN GERMANY, THE EMPERORS CONTROLLED THE PRINCES.
BUT IN THE 11th CENTURY,
THE POPE ESTABLISHED HIS POWER OVER THE EMPEROR.
THIS ALLOWED THE LITTLE GERMAN PRINCES TO GO WILD
AND BUILD ALL THESE CASTLES.
THAT'S WHY MOST OF THE CASTLES ALONG THE RHINE
DATE FROM THIS ERA.
A COUPLE HUNDRED YEARS LATER,
AS THE EMPEROR BEGAN REASSERTING HIS CONTROL
OVER THE PRINCES, THESE CASTLES SAW ACTION.
WHILE THE CASTLES SURVIVED THESE BATTLES,
MOST WERE DESTROYED LATER BY THE FRENCH
BECAUSE THEY FEARED A STRONG GERMANY,
AND THEY FELT THE RHINE WAS THE LOGICAL BORDER
BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES.
IN THE ROMANTIC AGE, THE LATE 1800s,
MEDIEVAL THINGS WERE IN VOGUE
AND MANY OF THE RUINS WERE REBUILT.
TODAY THE RHINE CASTLES ARE ENJOYED AS RESTAURANTS,
HOTELS,
HOSTELS,
AND MUSEUMS.
AND TRAVELERS CRUISE THE RIVER JUST TO CASTLE-WATCH.
TOUR BOATS COME AND GO ABOUT HOURLY.
VARIOUS LINES EACH HAVE THEIR OWN DOCKS
AND ADVERTISE THEIR OWN SCHEDULES.
BUYING TICKETS FROM A KIOSK BEFORE BOARDING,
TOURISTS CAN PUT TOGETHER THEIR OWN HOP-ON AND HOP-OFF TOURS
OF THIS MOST ROMANTIC STRETCH OF THE RHINE.
ALONG WITH TRANSPORTING CAMERA-TOTING TOURISTS,
THE RHINE MOVES A STEADY FLOW OF CARGO
TO THE WORLD'S BIGGEST PORT, ROTTERDAM,
WHICH WAITS AT THE MOUTH OF THE RIVER.
BARGE WORKERS ARE ALMOST A SUBCULTURE.
MANY OWN THEIR OWN SHIPS.
THE CAPTAIN AND HIS FAMILY LIVE IN THE STERN,
CAR PARKED ON THE ROOFTOP.
THE CREW LIVES IN THE BOW.
LOGICALLY, IMPORTS LIKE OIL GO UPSTREAM,
AND EXPORTS LIKE GERMAN MANUFACTURED GOODS
GO DOWNSTREAM.
THE POWERFUL RHINE HAS LONG BEEN TREACHEROUS TO NAVIGATE.
BOATS GENERALLY PASS ON THE RIGHT.
SINCE DOWNSTREAM SHIPS CAN'T STOP OR MANEUVER AS FREELY,
UPSTREAM BOATS ARE EXPECTED TO DO THE TRICKY DO-SI-DO WORK.
LARGE TRIANGULAR SIGNALS
POSTED BEFORE TROUBLESOME BLIND BENDS IN THE RIVER
WARN OF ONCOMING SHIPS.
EACH TRIANGLE COVERS A SEGMENT OF THE BEND,
THE LOWEST TRIANGLE BEING THE NEAREST.
THEY WARN OF APPROACHING SHIPS.
IF THE BOTTOM SIDE OF A TRIANGLE IS LIT,
THAT SECTOR IS EMPTY.
BUT IF THE LEFT SIDE IS LIT,
THERE'S AN ONCOMING SHIP IN THAT SECTOR.
THE MOST DANGEROUS BEND IN THE RIVER
SWINGS AROUND A ROCKY BLUFF CALLED THE LORELEI.
BECAUSE OF REEFS JUST UPSTREAM,
MANY SHIPS NEVER MADE IT SAFELY PAST THE LORELEI
AND THE ROCKY CLIFF REMAINS STEEPED IN MYTH.
SAILORS BLAMED THEIR MISFORTUNE ON A Fräulein -- SO wunderbar --
HER LONG, BLONDE HAIR ALMOST COVERED HER BODY.
THIS LEGENDARY SIREN FLIRTED
AND SANG HER DISTRACTING SONGS FROM THIS ROCK.
JUST DOWN RIVER FROM THE LORELEI
IS THE PLEASANT TOWN OF ST. GOAR,
FOUNDED IN THE 6th CENTURY BY A MONK
FAMOUS FOR HIS HOSPITALITY.
ACCORDING TO LEGEND, EARLY SAILORS WOULD STOP HERE
FOR A REST AND A PRAYER OF THANKS
AFTER SURVIVING THE SEDUCTIVE AND TREACHEROUS LORELEI.
TODAY ST. GOAR IS A TOURIST TOWN.
ITS ONLY HAZARD, STREETS OF SHOPPING OPPORTUNITIES.
THIS SHOP BRAGS
IT HAS THE WORLD'S LARGEST FREE-HANGING CUCKOO CLOCK.
THIS ONE SPECIALIZES IN STEINS.
RHEINFELS CASTLE SITS LIKE A DEAD PIT BULL ABOVE ST. GORE.
ONCE THE BIGGEST AND MIGHTIEST CASTLE ON THE RHINE,
RHEINFELS RUMBLES WITH GHOSTS FROM ITS HARD-FOUGHT PAST.
WHILE IT WITHSTOOD A SIEGE OF 28,000 FRENCH TROOPS IN 1692,
THE FRENCH FINALLY DESTROYED IT A CENTURY LATER.
TODAY THIS HOLLOW, BUT FASCINATING, SHELL
OFFERS YOUR BEST HANDS-ON, RUINED-CASTLE EXPERIENCE
ON THE RIVER.
DURING THE PRE-GUNPOWDER GLORY DAYS OF CASTLES,
DEFENSES WERE BETTER THAN OFFENSES.
THE BEST WAY TO BEAT A CASTLE LIKE THIS
WAS A LONG, BORING, STARVE-'EM-OUT SIEGE.
THEREFORE, A CASTLE NEEDED TO BE WELL-STOCKED
AND SELF-SUFFICIENT.
IMAGINE THIS COURTYARD 500 YEARS AGO.
IT HAD A BAKERY, PHARMACY, HERB GARDEN, LIVESTOCK, A WELL,
EVEN A BREWERY.
DURING TIMES OF PEACE, A COUPLE HUNDRED PEOPLE LIVED HERE.
BUT DURING A SIEGE, AS MANY AS 4,000 PEOPLE
WOULD PACK WITHIN THESE WALLS,
HOPING TO HAVE ENOUGH PROVISIONS TO OUTWAIT THEIR ATTACKERS.
IN ITS HEYDAY, THESE WALLS,
WHITEWASHED AND GLEAMING IN THE SUN, FLAGS FLYING HIGH,
MUST HAVE EXASPERATED ATTACKERS CAMPED OUTSIDE FOR SO LONG.
IF YOU MISS YOUR BOAT,
HOURLY TRAINS CONNECT RIVERSIDE TOWNS QUICKLY AND CHEAPLY.
THE HISTORIC TOWN OF BACHARACH MAKES A FINE HOME BASE
FOR EXPLORING THIS REGION.
HERR JUNG, BACHARACH'S RETIRED SCHOOLMASTER,
IS A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE.
OVER THE YEARS,
HE'S ENJOYED SHOWING MY TOUR GROUPS AROUND TOWN.
NOT MANY PEOPLE IN THIS TOWN.
NO, WE ARE A SMALL TOWN,
BUT IN MEDIEVAL TIMES WE ARE A BIG TOWN.
WE HAVE 3,000 INHABITANTS.
IT WAS A BIG TOWN AND A FAMOUS TOWN.
THIS WAS THE CAPITAL ONCE OF GERMANY.
AND FOR TWO YEARS THIS WAS THE RESIDENCE
OF THE HOLY ROMAN EMPERORS.
Rick: ACTUALLY, THE HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR
RULED FROM HERE?
Herr Jung: YA.
IN ITS HEYDAY, BACHARACH WAS FORTIFIED BY A GREAT WALL,
WHICH YOU CAN STILL HIKE ON ABOVE THE TOWN TODAY.
AT ONE TIME THERE WERE 16 TOWERS ALONG THE WALL.
SIX OF THEM SURVIVE.
THE WALL EXTENDED ALL THE WAY TO THE CASTLE.
Rick: SO THIS WAS A VERY IMPORTANT CITY?
Herr Jung: BUT WE HAD BIG PROBLEMS BACK THEN
BECAUSE WE HAD 15 FIRES AND THE PLAGUE --
HALF OF THE POPULATION DIED AWAY BY THE PLAGUE --
AND WE HAD THE THIRTY YEARS WAR,
AND BACHARACH WAS OCCUPIED EIGHT TIMES:
BY THE SWEDISH, BY THE SPANISH,
BY THE FRENCH, EIGHT TIMES.
AND THEN WE BECAME A SLEEPING BEAUTY,
FROM 1650 TO 1850, FOR 200 YEARS.
Rick: 200 YEARS, NOTHING...
Jung: NOTHING CHANGED.
THEN IN THE MID-19th CENTURY, THINGS CHANGED.
ROMANTIC ARTISTS AND WRITERS
WERE CHARMED BY THE RHINELAND'S MIX
OF PAST GLORY, RUSTIC POVERTY, AND RICH LEGEND.
THEY DISCOVERED THIS AREA,
PUTTING IT ON THE GRAND TOUR MAP AS THE ROMANTIC RHINE.
VICTOR HUGO STOOD HERE
AND WROTE OF BACHARACH'S IVY-COVERED, RUINED CHAPEL,
"A MAGNIFICENT SKELETON PUTS ITS SILHOUETTE
AGAINST THE SKY."
AND THE ROMANTICS REPORTED ON THE REGION'S WONDERFUL WINE,
WHICH HAD BEEN POPULAR SINCE ANCIENT ROMAN TIMES.
LIKE OTHER TOWNS ALONG THE RIVER,
BACHARACH HAS A LONG TRADITION OF VINTNERS MAKING WINE,
AND OFFERING THEIR LABEL TO THE THIRSTY PUBLIC.
THE HEINRICH FAMILY HAS MADE WINE HERE FOR GENERATIONS.
MARKUS AND SUZANNE SHARE THE FRUITS OF THEIR LABOR
IN THE FAMILY CELLAR.
Rick: TELL ME ABOUT THE GRAPE.
WHAT IS THE GRAPE THAT WORKS THE BEST?
OKAY, RIESLING IS THE BEST WHITE WINE GRAPE.
IT'S THE QUEEN OF THE WHITE WINE GRAPES.
SO, WHAT IS TYPICAL FOR THIS WINE?
ITS SMELLS VERY GOOD.
YOU CAN TASTE THE EARTH IN IT, THE SUN.
IT'S SOMETHING SPECIAL.
YEAH.
YOU LIKE IT?
I LIKE IT. I DO.
SURE?
WELL, LET ME TRY ANOTHER, A LITTLE MORE.
[ laughter ]
TODAY, THE RHINE'S CASTLES EARN THEIR KEEP,
NOT BY LOCKING PEOPLE OUT, BUT BY WELCOMING THEM IN.
BACHARACH'S CASTLE HAS BECOME ONE OF GERMANY'S TOP HOSTELS,
WITH PLENTY OF BEDS AND A WARM WELCOME.
THE SIMPLE DORM ROOMS, WHETHER FOR INDIVIDUALS OR FAMILIES,
ARE A GODSEND FOR BUDGET TRAVEL.
MANY COME WITH THE ORIGINAL MEDIEVAL VIEW.
AND HERE, THE KIDS TAKE THE CASTLE AMBIENCE TO HEART.
HOSTELERS CAP THEIR SIGHTSEEING DAY HERE ON THE TERRACE,
WATCHING OVER RIVER TRAFFIC
WITH NEW FRIENDS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
WHILE ENJOYING THE CHEAPEST ACCOMMODATIONS ON THE RHINE.
THAT'S GOOD TRAVEL.
THE MIGHTY RHINE IS JOINED BY THE MOSEL RIVER AT KOBLENZ.
THE CITY'S NAME COMES FROM THE LATIN WORD FOR CONFLUENCE,
A REMINDER OF THE REGION'S ROMAN PAST.
THIS POINT, WHERE THE TWO RIVERS MEET,
THE DEUTSCHES ECK OR GERMAN CORNER,
THE TOURISTS' JUMPING-OFF POINT FOR EXPLORING THE DREAMY MOSEL
BUT FOR GERMANS, IT HAS A SPECIAL SIGNIFICANCE.
Rick: EVERY TIME I COME HERE TO THE DEUTSCHES ECK,
I FEEL IT'S VERY CLOSE TO THE HEART
OF GERMAN PEOPLE, OR SOMETHING.
YOU SHOULD.
WHY IS THAT?
WHAT IS THE DEAL?
DEUTSCH ECK TO A GERMAN IS A FEELING OF BELONGING,
OF UNITY, OF BEING GERMAN.
NOT BEING BETTER THAN THE REST OF US,
BUT HAVING A SENSE OF HISTORY, WHERE WE CAME FROM, WHO WE ARE.
THIS SPOT HERE, THIS CORNER, THIS MONUMENT,
THE MOSEL, THE RHINE RIVER,
IT IS REALLY THE HEART AND SOUL OF GERMANY,
OF BEING A GERMAN.
Rick: SO THIS IS REALLY LIKE, LIKE WHAT WOULD IT BE IN AMERICA?
SORT OF A RALLYING CRY?
THE ALAMO?
THAT IS EXACTLY IT.
YOU COULDN'T HAVE PUT IT BETTER.
THIS IS THE GERMAN ALAMO.
Rick: NOW THIS GUY HERE, KAISER WILHELM?
Man: YA, KAISER WILHELM BUILT GERMANY.
I MEAN, KAISER WILHELM --
KAISER WILHELM HAD THE FOUNDATION.
Rick: SO THIS MAN SYMBOLIZES --
Man: THIS -- THIS IS IT.
Rick; THE MODERN UNIFICATION OF GERMANY?
HE DID IT.
HE HELD IT.
THE THOMAS JEFFERSON OF MODERN GERMANY.
AMEN.
WOW.
THE MOSEL MOSEYS 300 MILES FROM ITS SOURCE IN FRANCE
WHERE IT'S CALLED THE MOSELLE.
THIS STRETCH, JUST BEFORE IT MEETS THE RHINE,
IS THE MOST INTERESTING.
THE MOSEL IS THE RHINE'S PEACEFUL LITTLE SISTER,
WITH ROMANTIC VILLAGES
SLIPPED BETWEEN STEEP VINEYARDS AND THE RIVER,
LOTS OF FRIENDLY B&Bs
AND A SPRINKLING OF CASTLES.
BOAT, TRAIN, AND CAR TRAFFIC HERE IS A TRICKLE
COMPARED TO THE ROARING RHINE.
THE TOWN OF COCHEM IS THE MAIN TOURIST CENTER,
EASILY ACCESSIBLE BY TRAIN, WITH A COBBLED OLD CENTER,
AND A DELIGHTFUL WATERFRO PROMENADE.
IT HAS A STORYBOOK CASTLE, BUT COCHEM CASTLE
IS ACTUALLY A 19th-CENTURY RECONSTRUCTION,
MORE FANCIFUL THAN AUTHENTIC.
FOR A MOREEAL-CASTLE EXPERIENCE,
WE'RE VISITING BURG ELTZ.
HIDING OUT FOR 800 YEARS IN A MYSTERIOUS FOREST,
IT'S BEEN LEFT AMAZINGLY INTACT.
THIS IS MY FAVORITE CASTLE IN ALL OF EUROPE.
VISITORS ASSEMBLE IN THE CENTRAL COURTYARD,
THE COMMON GROUND OF A TINY FORTIFIED COMMUNITY.
FROM HERE, GROUPS ARE GUIDED THROUGH THE CASTLE.
THE PLACE IS TRULY AUTHENTIC, FURNISHED THROUGHOUT
BASICALLY AS IT WAS 500 YEARS AGO.
THAT'S RARE IN CASTLES.
THANKS TO SMART DIPLOMACY AND CLER MARRIAGES,
BURG ELTZ AVOIDED WARS AND WAS NEVER DESTROYED.
IT'S BEEN IN THE ELTZ FAMILY FOR EIGHT CENTURIES.
THE PRESENT COUNTESS LOVES FLOWERS
AND ADORNS EACH ROOM WITH FRESH BOUQUETS WEEKLY.
THE NOBLES FROM THREE BRANCHES OF THE ELTZ FAMILY,
WHO SHARED THIS FORTIFICATION,
MET AND WORKED OUT THEIR PROBLEMS HERE,
IN THE GRAND GALLERY.
THE DECOR HAD MEANING.
SINCE THE JESTER COULD SAY ANYTHING TO THE KING,
THIS RELIEF REMINDED PEOPLE THEY SHOULD TALK FREELY.
BUT THE ROSE OF SILENCE REMINDED THEM
THAT WHAT'S SAID IN HERE SHOULD STAY PRIVATE.
THE MASTER BEDROOM WAS FINELY DECORATED
AND AS COMFORTABLE AS POSSIBLE BACK THEN.
IT CAME WITH A TOILET, ONE OF 20 IN THE CASTLE,
EACH FLUSHED, OCCASIONALLY, BY RAIN WATER.
THIS BED IS ABOUT 500 YEARS OLD.
IT'S BUILT HIGH BECAUSE HOT AIR RISES.
THE CANOPY IS ROMANTIC NOW, BUT BACK THEN IT WAS PRACTICAL.
IT KEPT THE HEAT IN AND THE BUGS OUT.
THE CASTLE'S 500-YEAR-OLD WALL PAINTINGS
HELP YOU IMAGINE WHO LIVED HERE.
IN THE BEDROOM, THE THEME,
A FESTIVAL OF PHALLIC AND FERTILITY SYMBOLS,
HINTS AT A PLAYFUL AND LUSTY WORLD.
BURG ELTZ HAS A LACY LITTLE GOTHIC CHAPEL.
THE PAINTINGS AND STAINED GLASS ARE ALSO 500 YEARS OLD.
THE CHAPEL WAS ON A LOWER FLOOR.
BECAUSE IT WAS DISRESPECTFUL TO LIVE ABOVE THE HOUSE OF GOD,
THE CHAPEL JUTS OUT, CLEVERLY FILLING A BAY WINDOW.
ALL THESE CASTLES ARE REMNANTS OF EUROPE'S FEUDAL SYSTEM.
FEUDALISM WAS THE SOCIAL STRUCTURE
THAT CAME OUT OF THE CHAOS AND FRAGMENTATION
THAT FOLLOWED THE FALL OF ROME.
THE FEUDAL SYSTEM WAS BASED ON A SERIES OF AGREEMENTS
BETWEEN A HIERARCHY OF LANDLORDS.
BASICALLY, A BIG LANDLORD
GRANTED LAND TO A LESS POWERFUL GUY
IN RETURN FOR SERVICE AND LOYALTY.
TO PUT IT INTO FEUDAL TERMS,
A LORD GRANTED A FIEF, THAT'S LAND,
TO A VASSAL, THAT'S A LESS POWERFUL LORD,
IN RETURN FOR FEALTY, OR LOYALTY.
FROM THE KING ON DOWN, ONE MAN'S VASSAL WAS ANOTHER MAN'S LORD.
THE FEUDAL HIERARCHY, ALL THESE LAYERS OF LORDS,
RESTED UPON THE BACKS OF THE LANDLESS PEASANT OR SERF.
AND THE SERFS WHO SURROUNDED THESE CASTLES
HAD NO REAL OPTIONS IN LIFE BUT TO WORK THE LAND
IN RETURN FOR PROTECTION AND ENOUGH FOOD TO SURVIVE.
AS ON THE RHINE, TOWNS ON THE MOSEL, LIKE BEILSTEIN,
GREW UP LOW THEIR CASTLES.
TODAY, WITH NARROW LANES AND AN EASYGOING AMBIENCE,
THEY MAKE IDEAL OVERNIGHT STOPS.
INVITING LITTLE FERRIES
SHUTTLE FARMERS, HIKERS AND BIKERS BACK AND FORTH.
I'M STAYING AT HAUS LIPMANN,
A FAMILY-RUN RESTAURANT THAT RENTS OUT A FEW ROOMS UPSTAIRS.
THE TRADITIONAL GUESTS HERE ARE GERMANS,
WHO COME YEAR AFTER YEAR TO ENJOY THE CASUAL LIFESTYLE,
GOOD COOKING,
AND MOSEL WINE.
THE CREAKY WOODEN STAIRCASE
LEADS TO SEVEN INEXPENSIVE, YET COMFY ROOMS.
AND I RESERVED MINE WITH A RIVER VIEW.
WHILE SLOW TRAINS LACE TOGETHER RHINE AND MOSEL VILLAGES,
EXPRESS TRAINS MAKE THE LONGER CONNECTIONS TO OTHER REGIONS.
IN THREE HOURS, WE'RE IN ROTHENBURG,
GERMANY'S ULTIMATE WALLED CITY.
IN THE MIDDLE AGES, WHEN FRANKFURT AND MUNICH
WERE JUST WIDE SPOTS ON THE ROAD,
ROTHENBURG WAS ONE OF GERMANY'S LARGEST CITIES
WITH A WHOPPING POPULATION OF 6,000.
TODAY, EVEN WITH ITS CROWDS AND OVERPRICED SOUVENIRS,
I LOVE THIS PLACE.
DURING ROTHENBURG'S HEYDAY -- THAT WAS ABOUT 1200 TO 1400 --
IT WAS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TWO GREAT TRADING ROUTES,
PRAGUE TO PARIS AND HAMBURG TO VENICE.
BUT TODAY THE GREAT TRADE IS TOURISM.
ROTHENBURG IS A HUGE HIT WITH SHOPPERS.
TRUE, THIS IS A GREAT PLACE TO BUY CUCKOO CLOCKS,
STEINS AND DIRNDLS, BUT SEE THE TOWN FIRST.
MOST OF THE BUILDINGS WERE BUILT BY 1400.
LIKE MANY MEDIEVAL TOWNS, THE FINEST AND BIGGEST HOUSES
WERE BUILT ALONG HERRENGASSE,
NAMED FOR THE HERREN, OR THE WEALTHY CLASS.
THE COMMONERS BUILT HIGGLEDY-PIGGLEDY
FARTHER FROM THE CENTER NEAR THE WALLS.
HANGING SHOP SIGNS ADVERTISE WHAT THEY SOLD:
KNIVES, ARMOR, BREAD, WHATEVER.
ROTHENBURG'S WALL,
WITH ITS BEEFY FORTIFICATIONS AND INTIMIDATING GATES,
IS ABOUT A MILE AROUND AND PROVIDES GREAT VIEWS
AND A GOOD ORIENTATION.
RÖDERTOR IS THE ONLY TOWER YOU CAN ACTUALLY CLIMB.
IT'S WORTH THE HIKE FOR THE COMMANDING CITY VIEW
AND THE FASCINATING DISPLAY ON THE BOMBING OF ROTHENBURG
IN THE LAST WEEKS OF WORLD WAR II,
WHEN MUCH OF THE CITY WAS DESTROYED.
BUT ROTHENBURG'S MOST DEVASTATING DAYS
WERE 400 YEARS AGO DURING THE THIRTY YEARS' WAR.
IN THE 1600s, THE CATHOLIC AND PROTESTANT ARMIES
WERE FIGHTING ALL ACROSS EUROPE.
THE CATHOLIC ARMY TOOK THE PROTESTANT TOWN OF ROTHENBURG
AND, AS WAS CUSTOMARY,
THEY PLANNED TO EXECUTE THE TOWN LEADERS
AND PILLAGE AND PLUNDER THE PLACE.
BUT THE CATHOLIC GENERAL HAD AN IDEA.
HE SAID, HEY, IF SOMEBODY IN THIS TOWN CAN DRINK
A THE-LITER TANKARD FILLED WITH WINE IN ONE GULP,
I'LL SPARE THE CITY.
ACCORDING TO LEGEND,
ROTHENBURG'S RETIRED MAYOR NUSCH SAID,
"I CAN DO THAT."
MAYOR NUSCH DRANK THE WHOLE THING, THE TOWN WAS SAVED,
AND THE MAYOR SLEPT FOR THREE DAYS.
AND TODAY TOURISTS GATHER ON THE TOWN SQUARE
SEVERAL TIMES DAILY FOR A LESS- THAN-THRILLING REENACTMENT
OF THAT LEGENDARY CHUG.
NICE STORY.
BUT IN ACTUALITY, THE TOWN WAS OCCUPIED AND RANSACKED
SEVERAL TIMES DURING THAT 30 YEARS OF WAR.
AND WHEN PEACE FINALLY CAME,
ROTHENBURG WAS NEVER AGAIN A MAJOR PLAYER.
IT SLUMBERED PEACEFULLY
UNTIL REDISCOVERED IN THE 19th CENTURY
BY THOSE SAME ROMANTICS WHO PUT THE RHINE
ON THE GRAND TOUR MAP.
THEY CAME HERE TO PAINT AND WRITE
ABOUT THE BEST PRESERVED MEDIEVAL TOWN IN GERMANY.
SHOPS ARE FILLED WITH ETCHINGS AND PRINTS
INSPIRED BY THIS 19th CENTURY ROMANTIC TAKE ON THE TOWN.
AND ROTHENBURG IS LINED WITH OTHER SHOPPING OPPORTUNITIES.
TOURISTS FLOCK TO THE KÄTHE WOHLFAHRT CHRISTMAS VILLAGE,
A PHENOMENON REQUIRING A SPECIAL ELECTRICAL HOOK-UP
AND OFFERING A CHRISTMAS SHOPPING FANTASY
365 DAYS A YEAR.
UPSTAIRS, ITS MUSEUM OF CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS
GIVES A KIND OF HISTORIC LEGITIMACY TO ITS MERCHANDISE.
WHILE CELEBRATING A WINTER FESTIVAL WITH TREES
PREDATES THE BIRTH OF CHRIST,
ABOUT 500 YEARS AGO, GERMANY WAS THE FIRST PLACE
WHERE DECORATED TREES
BECAME A PART OF CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS.
THESE FIRST TREES WERE STREWN WITH COOKIES, APPLES, NUTS,
AND SUGAR STICKS, WHICH CHILDREN EAGERLY RAIDED.
IN THE 1800s, WHEN CANDLES BECAME AFFORDABLE,
THE TREE OF LIGHTS ARRIVED.
AND THE TRADITION OF THE FAMILY
GATHERING AROUND THE TREE FOR GIFT-GIVING
WAS ALSO ESTABLISHED.
IN THE EARLY 1900s, DURING THE ART NOUVEAU AGE,
TREES WERE DRAPED IN TINSEL
AND ORNAMENTED WITH LOVINGLY PAINTED GLASS BULBS.
IN GERMANY, THE LAND OF "O TANNENBAUM,"
CHRISTMAS TREES WERE SO POPULAR THAT DURING WORLD WAR I,
THOUSANDS OF THEM WERE ACTUALLY MAILED
TO SOLDIERS ON THE WESTERN FRONT.
THESE TINY TREES, ASSEMBLED RIGHT OUT OF THE POSTAGE BOX,
WERE MADE OF FEATHERS AND PAPER.
OKAY, YOU GOT TO DO YOUR SPPING.
BUT ROTHENBURG HAS TWO SIGHTS YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST SEE:
THE MEDIEVAL CRIME AND PUNISHMENT MUSEUM
AND THE GREAT ART IN THIS CHURCH.
ST. JAKOB'S CHURCH, BUILT IN THE 14th CENTURY,
HAS BEEN LUTHERAN SINCE 1544.
ITS 12 APOSTLES ALTARPIECE GRABS YOUR ATTENTION.
WITH SEVERAL LARGE PANELS THAT SWING ON HINGES,
IT'S PERMANENTLY LEFT IN ITS OPEN FESTIVAL-DAY POSITION.
BUT HIDING UPSTAIRS IN THE BACK OF THE CHURCH
IS THE ARTISTIC HIGHLIGHT OF ROTHENBURG
AND, PERHAPS, GERMANY'S MOST WONDERFUL WOOD CARVING,
THE GLORIOUS 500-YEAR-OLD ALTAR OF THE HOLY BLOOD.
TILMAN RIEMENSCHNEIDER --
THIS IS SUPPOSEDLY HIS SELF-PORTRAIT --
WAS THE MICHELANGELO OF GERMAN WOOD CARVERS.
HE WHEN WHITTLED THIS INCREDIBLE ENSEMBLE
TO HOLD A PRECIOUS ROCK CRYSTAL CAPSULE,
BELIEVED TO CONTAIN A DROP OF JESUS'S BLOOD.
BELOW, IN THE SCENE OF THE LAST SUPPER,
JESUS GIVES JUDAS, CLUTCHING HIS BAG OF COINS,
A PIECE OF BREAD, MARKING HIM AS THE TRAITOR.
ART LIKE THIS GAVE ROTHENBURGERS
SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE.
BUT SOME OF THE TOWNFOLK
NEEDED A MORE PHYSICAL FORM OF GUIDANCE,
AS DISPLAYED IN ROTHENBURG'S
MEDIEVAL CRIME AND PUNISHMENT MUSEUM.
THIS MUSEUM, THE BEST OF ITS KIND, SHOWS GRAPHICALLY
HOW PEOPLE WERE PUNISHED IN THE MIDDLE AGES.
EACH FEUDAL STATE THOUGHTFULLY DESCRIBED
ITS CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS
IN CAREFULLY WRITTEN LAWS.
TORTURE, LIKE STRETCHING SOMEONE ON THE RACK,
WAS ONLY USED TO GET CONFESSIONS.
GENERALLY, JUST A QUICK LOOK AT THESE TOOLS
GOT THE ACCUSED TALKING.
DEATH PENALTIES WERE COMMON AND CAME IN DEGREES.
A MINOR OFFENSE, SUCH AS STEALING,
EARNED YOU A QUICK DEATH BY BEHEADING.
MORE SERIOUS CAPITAL OFFENSES, LIKE MURDER WITH THEFT,
EARNED YOU A SLOW DEATH,
LIKE HAVING ALL YOUR BONES BROKEN UNDER A WHEEL
BEFORE YOUR EXECUTION.
BAD SOCIAL BEHAVIOR WAS DEALT WITH BY PUBLIC EMBARRASSMENT
VIA SHAME MASKS.
MEN ACTING LIKE PIGS WORE THIS MASK.
GOSSIPS, PEOPLE WHO HEARD TOO MUCH AND TALKED TOO MUCH,
WOULD BE LOCKED INTO THIS CONTRAPTION
WITH A BELL RINGING ON TOP.
QUARRELSOME PEOPLE WOULD BE LOCKED
INTO A DOUBLE-NECK VIOLIN UNTIL THEY WORKED THINGS OUT.
GLORIOUS WOOD CARVINGS AND CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS
SHINE A LIGHT ON MEDIEVAL LIFE.
BUT MY FAVORITE TRIP INTO MEDIEVAL ROTHENBURG
IS WITH THE NIGHT WATCHMAN.
NIGHTLY, HE LIGHTS UP HIS LANTERN
AND LEADS A GANG OF TOURISTS INTO THE PAST.
THIS TOWN WAS CONQUERED THE FIRST TIME IN 1631,
SO IT TOOK A WHILE, HUNDREDS OF YEARS.
NO ENEMY MADE IT INTO THIS CITY.
BUT THEY ALL DID ONE THING.
IF THEY COULDN'T GET IN, LIKE IT WAS THEIR PLAN,
AND THEY HAD TO GO BACK WHERE THEY CAME FROM
AFTER THEY TRIED EVERYTHING THEY COULD,
WELL, THEN THEY PLUNDERED OUR VILLAGES.
THEY KILLED OUR PEASANTS.
THEY TOOK PARTS OF OUR OUTSIDE TERRITORY.
AND BUILT -- AND BURNED OUR VILLAGES DOWN.
THERE WAS ALWAYS A PRICE TO PAY.
THE TOUR FINISHES WITH A SCENE
FROM THE ROTHENBURG OF CENTURIES AGO.
sound of Medieval horn ]
AS THE NIGHT WATCHMAN BLOWS HIS HORN,
SIGNALING ALL IS WELL,
WE KNOW THAT MEDIEVAL GERMANY SURVIVES.
FROM EVOCATIVE CASTLES TO ITS ROMANTIC RIVERS,
FROM FINE RHINE WINE TO FANCIFUL COBBLED LANES,
WITH A LITTLE IMAGINATION, YOU CAN REKINDLE
THE EUROPE OF OLD.
THANKS FOR JOINING US ON OUR VISIT
TO GERMANY'S ROMANTIC RHINE, MOSEL, AND ROTHENBURG.
I'M RICK STEVES.
UNTIL NEXT TIME, KEEP ON TRAVELING.
AUF WIEDERSEHEN!
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旅遊英文 (Germany's Romantic Rhine and Rothenburg)

1170 分類 收藏
Ya Ping Gong 發佈於 2017 年 7 月 20 日

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