Day Trips in Rhineland Palatinate

Hardenburg, Bad Duerkheim,

Hardenburg Castle is located on top of a mountain ridge above the Isenach Valley and the town Bad Duerkheim. It was built before 1214 to protect the nearby monastery Limburg (another picturesque ruin), and was remodeled into a fortress in the 16th century. (The name "castle" stuck, though, since it was also the home of the local duke).

There are almost no remains of the original medieval castle left - only a few remnants of a wall at the upper castle. Some parts of the castle-cum-fortress were destroyed during the Palatinate War of Succession (1688-97) and others later during the French revolution. As if that wasn´t enough destruction yet, in the first decade of the 19th century Hardenburg Castle was robbed of most of its building material by the locals.

But even though what you see today is only ruins, it´s still impressive and conveys how grand the castle must have been during its heyday.

Our Travel Blythe Sunday definitely enjoyed our trip.

I made the knockoff of "Golden Goddess" that Sunday is wearing from a pattern in the Blythe yahoo group.


Heidenloecher (Heathen Holes), Deidesheim


When the Heathen Holes were discovered in the late 19th/early 20th century, in the forest hills above Deidesheim, people thought they were the remains of a Celtic settlement - hence the name. In fact, it was probably a medieval castle of refuge, built somewhere around to the 9th or 1oth century to protect the locals from marauding Normans - even though it is not sure if the castle ever had to fulfil its purpose.

From up there, you´ve got a wonderful view.

The village is Deidesheim - better known as the place where former chancellor, Helmut Kohl, who is from the Palatinate, dragged every state visitor to feed them sow´s stomach - Saumagen, a local specialty which is actually much nicer than it sounds.

It is a bit similar to Scotch haggis - basically it´s a a mixture of potatoes, pork and various spices which is used to stuff a pigs´ stomach (if you think that´s disgusting, remember that sausages are stuffed intestines, too, and you don´t have to eat the skin anyway) which is then boiled. The result is either served directly - with sauerkraut or sliced bread - or cut into slices which are then fried. The dish was created in the 18th century by farmers as a way to use up leftovers . 

Deidesheim is right on the German Wine Road. In nearby Neustadt, the German Wine Queen is elected each year, a tradition since 1931. Each wine growing area in Germany sends a representant (their regional Wine Queen) to the pageant. Knowledge about wine and wine growing is as important as charismatic appearance, but looks aren´t as important as in beauty pageants.


Cathedral, Speyer

The Speyer Cathedral is officially called Mariendom (Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Steven), but hardly anyone uses that name. It´s usually referred to as the Kaiserdom  (Imperial Cathedral) or simply the Dom, since there aren´t that many other cathedrals in the area. With the Abbey of Cluny in France in ruins, the Speyer Cathedral remains the largest Romanesque church in Europe and as such, has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List of culturally important sites.

It is a beautiful building in its own right, but what has always fascinated me most about it - even as a small child - is the crypt.                                                                                       Emperor Conrad II had the cathedral built in 1030–1061 as his final resting place. Later on, 7 more Holy Roman/German emperors and kings as well as some of their wives and a number of bishops were buried there. The graves were originally placed in the central aisle in front of the altar, but in the course of the centuries knowledge of the exact location was lost. In a big excavation campaign in 1900 the graves were discovered and opened. Some of their contents, e. g. clothing, can be seen at the Historical Museum of the Palatinate near the cathedral.                                                                                                             The restored coffins were relocated into a newly constructed crypt under the main altar in 1906, and that´s where you can see them today.

We visited Speyer because we wanted to see a traveling exhibition on Playmobil that was currently at the Historical Museum of the Palatinate, but since it was the beginning of spring, we were lucky and caught the procession to drive out Winter in the shape of a giant snowman which was carried outside the city and then burnt there.


(April 2003)

The Historical Museum of the Palatinate.                                            

Almond Blossoms, Gimmeldingen & Koenigsbach

The Palatinate is famous for its mild, almost mediterranean climate and is often compared to Tuscany. You can find many mediterranean plants here that find it too cold in other parts of Germany.

Koenigsbach, the part of Neustadt that I'm originally from, and its neighbouring village Gimmeldingen are famous for their almond trees that blossom in the spring. It's a beautiful sight!

When I found my first vintage (well, mod*) Barbie at a doll show some time in the early 1990s, I took her outside to take a few pictures of the almond blossoms. I think these are the earliest doll pictures I've still got.

*In fact, she's a late mod Equestrienne Barbie that I mistook for a Living Barbie and in hindsight overpaid, but I was so happy to have found her I got my money's worth back after all...

Bonus: Impressions