Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


9.4.10
  Rhine Tour 2010

I'll be doing a somewhat shorter tour this year: 8 days along the Rhine in May, in search of Romans and other fun. I'll start with Xanten, the ancient Colonia Ulpia Traiana (and the castellum Castra Vetera) which has a shiny new Roman museum, an Archaeological Park, and some other remains, plus a Gothic cathedral. Xanten is also connected with the Song of the Nibelungs (there's a new Nibelung Museum as well), where it is named as the home of Siegfrid the Dragonslayer.

The next station will be Moguntiacum, aka Mainz. That one has two Roman-themed museums, the Römisch-Germanisches Nationalmuseum and the Nautic Museum, and other Roman remains spread all over the town: a temple, remains of an amphitheatre, aqueduct pillars and more. Gotta do some walking there. There's also another splendid cathedral, the Gutenberg Museum and other interesting things.

We're back to the Nibelungs with a visit to Worms. It was at the main gate of the cathedral where the two queens, Brünhild and Kriemhild (Gutrun in the Edda versions), quarreled about who was to enter the church first, which led to a really big desaster. I've seen the cathedral - another Romanesque one - as kid right at the age when I read all those epics for the first time, so it will be interesting to see the place again.

The mountains framing the Rhine between Mainz and Koblenz are dotted with castles (though a number of them are 19th century reconstructions which look a bit more Victorian than Mediaeval), so I'll try to catch at least one: the Rheinfels where old remains meet with 17th century fortifications. It's the largest castle in the area. I'll also plan for a ship cruise on the Rhine. Hold your thumbs for sunshine. :)

A little jewel will be Baudobriga, better known as Boppard today, a Celtic settlement turned Roman fort, turned Medieaval town. What put it on my list is the fact that it has the best preserved Roman walls in Germany. It may be of interest to Carla that a church has been built on the remains of the Roman baths, and later the bishop of Trier (or, according to a new essay, Richard of Cornwall) put a big rectangular donjon right into one corner of the old Roman fortifications; the one castle along the Middle Rhine not perching on top of some mountain.

In case anyone wonders why Cologne didn't make it onto the list - that one only has a big, gaping hole in the middle of the town and a dusty church right now. I'll wait for the underground to be finished before I go there.

The photos shows the trees outside my balcony with raindrops sparkling in the sunshine.
 
Comments:
Have a great time, Gabriele! Looking forward to the pics!
 
Have a wonderful holiday!
Is the date of the church on the Roman baths at Baudobriga/Boppard known?
 
Carla, the fort was abandoned in the early 5th century, and the first church dates from that time when people from the vicus moved into the fortress. The baths obviously had been in bad repair already (traces of a fire) and the remains were used to build a church. That one burnt down in the 10th century and was replaced with a larger one, as usual. The present building dates from the 12./13.th centuries.
 
That sounds a little reminscent of the building with an apse at Birdoswald fort, usually tentatively interpreted as a Late Roman church, though that was on the site of a barrack block (in the old centurion's quarters, if I remember rightly, though don't quote me on that) rather than the baths.
 
Wasn't there some town where the baths had been rebuilt as church? The way most baths have apsides lends itself to church design.
 
Leicester. Possibly also Wroxeter, though that's conjectural. They were both towns rather than forts, and you said Baudobriga was an ex-fort, which is what made me think of Birdoswald.
 
Yes, Baudobriga was one of those Rhine forts which got an extra layer to its walls in the 3rd century since the Alamanni kept attacking the frontier. Probably the reason why the place looked attractive to the civilians once the Romans had left. Much better defended than their vicus, and who needs baths, anyway. ;)
 
I was very disappointed of Rheinfels when I visited it a couple of years ago. Very touristy, as is every town along the Rhine in that section of the river. I'll be interested to hear what you think of the Mainz museums. Don't miss the Roman Ship Museum, it's incredible!
 
Jeri, yes I suppose the tourists will get in my way, but there's not much you can do about it. The other interesting castle in the area, the Marksburg, is on the 'wrong' side of the Rhine and more difficult to get to (which would mean I could not combine it with something else, time-wise), and since you can only see it on a guided tour, I suspect there would be a bunch of tourists standing in front of my camera all the time. In Rheinfels I can at least walk around on my own.
 
"In search of Romans"
I'm jealous. :)
 
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The Lost Fort is a blog based on my travels in Germany, the UK and other places, with essays on Roman and Mediaeval history illustrated with lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes. You may also find the odd essay about geology or Mediaeval literature.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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Location: Germany

I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who hasn't yet gotten an Instagram account. :-)


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