Thursday, January 07, 2016

Königswinter, Drachenfels, and Drachenburg: Germany


Not to confuse you, of course, but each is important, especially if you like old ruins and castles!  But I'll get to that in a minute.

It was time to make our way home from our 3-day, 2-night trip to Koblenz, Germany, the weekend after Thanksgiving.  I've already told you about Koblenz, the Maria Laach abbey and the Stolzenfels castle.

Astrid did the research and chose Königswinter as the perfect place for a stop on the way home, an hour west of Koblenz.  It would make a full day...one last day, squeezing everything in.

So, we started winding our way on the back roads along the Rhine towards Königswinter, stopping 
at anything and everything that caught our eye...with the above ruin as our goal, seen from afar.

Some things were brand new even to Astrid, like these stacked bales of hay.

But the fly-by shots of the castles, churches and ruins took the cake,
even though we didn't stop to check them out.
Besides, there are more castles in this area than you can shake a stick at.

As we entered Königswinter, we started paying attention.
It's a summer resort area in a small range of mountains, known for it's half-timbered houses,
the Drachenfels (dragon's rock) and the Drachenburg castle.

Because it wasn't raining yet, we decided to go to the Drachenfels (dragon's rock) first.
Lucky for us, Germany's oldest mountain Drachenfels railway, built in 1883, 
was in holiday operation that day.
The train took us to the castle, from which we then hiked up to the dragon's rock/ruin.
But see the donkey mural on the way?  Astrid's mom rode them instead of the train in her day.

The Drachenfels is actually a hill rising 321 meters (1,053 ft) above the Rhine.
The now ruined castle at the top was built in 1138 by Archbishop Arnold I of Cologne.

As we climbed higher and higher, we saw the Drachenburg castle below,
which we would visit later up close and personal.

If you like ruins, it doesn't get much better than this, even if you don't hang around for long.

Maybe it's the views from the top that are the bigger reward, but that, my friends, 
is the mighty Rhine river below.  The same one from our Viking River Cruise in 2013.

Going back down the mountain was so gezellig...a good Dutch word:  cozy.
Did I mention that I LOVE the woods!

Back down to the train stop, we saw the Drachenburg castle from outside the gate,
before entering the castle grounds through the lovely gate house.
The castle was constructed in palace style in two years, 1882-84, which is young as castles go.
But it does not disappoint!

 See what I mean!
And unbeknownst to us, Christmas festivities were taking place that weekend.

Dicken's-type characters were everywhere to be found, inside and out.

Inside, the great hall was a-bustle with Christmas goodies for purchase or viewing.

Eye candy.

You can see the palace distinction as opposed to a castle, right?

Posh.  Elegant.  Eye candy.

Back outside, as the afternoon grew late, we walked around the grounds.

And of course, we ate the goodies available.  We're not dumb.

Back through the gate house, as we left, we were reminded of the dragon Fafnir from a nearby cave
who was killed by Siegfried, who then bathed in the dragon's blood to become invulnerable.
And thus the hill became Drachenfels = dragon's rock.

That's what legends are made of, giving names to the places we visit.
And there you have it!

12 comments:

  1. Holy cow, that's a lot of stuff you saw and did, and you got all that exercise and great views to boot. Really amazing, and so beautiful. All that furniture ... sigh.

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    1. All that on our way home! I know, Ruth. It amazes me every time I start processing the images. We are so fortunate to live where we do! Thank you.

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  2. ....and here you have it... I am here with a big grin. It always amazes me what we pack in one day and this was even not a full day. Thank you for all the time you put into making those wonderful collages to show the real deal. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. What a wonderful memory to keep. It was a great day/end of the weekend. Thank you for being my partner in crime, IHVJ.

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    1. It's when I process the images, Astrid, that I realize just how much we really DO pack into a day. It blows my mind. All of this almost in our backyard! We are so fortunate!

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  3. How totally lovely! This is a fairy castle; I mean the type you imagine in fairy tales. How are you knees? You look like you can easily go up and down hills (I envy you – maybe someday I’ll be able to do that too.) The ride in the little train must have been fun and to have all these Dickens characters around – it certainly added to the ambiance.

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    1. Thank you, Vagabonde. My knees are FABULOUS...my new one, especially. I sometimes say it's the strongest part of my body now. And probably so. You know how much I love castles and this one, in particular, really was like a fairy tale!

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  4. Loved it all...but those views of the Rhine...WOW!

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    1. Germany is something else, Robin...packed full of wonders everywhere you go. That's one of the reasons why we venture across the border whenever we can! :) Thank you.

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  5. I had no idea this castle tour would lead to the dragon, Fafner. Any news of his brother Fasolt? Well, I think you know we love castles especially and can’t believe how many you passed by, but the ones you reached were worthy. Sounds like a few return trips may be appropriate.

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    1. Isn't it wonderful how one thing leads to another, Ted! It seems to happen a lot over here in Europe, which is one of the reasons I so much love living here! Thank you.

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  6. 'stopping at anything and everything that caught our eye...with the above ruin as our goal, seen from afar.'......boy that sounds like me on an adventure....and all these castles, now that is a dream to see and those ruins!

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    1. We are constantly pinching ourselves, Donna. It truly is a fairy tale!!!

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