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Before living in Germany, I had never heard of salines but now I can spot them in a number of small spa towns I have visited. And Bad Dürkheim is one of them – the “Bad” in the town’s name is not because of some sort of notoriety, but rather it means “bath” or “spa” in German. So people would come to the town for a “Kur” or a spa-wellness holiday or to seek relief from respiratory illnesses.
While on holiday, people could sit by the salines and breath in the cool fresh marine air. Marine air? There is no water in Bad Dürkheim such as a lake or ocean; so where does the marine air come from? It is created by these massive wood structures called salines, or salt evaporation works. Built out of a wooden encasement filled with blackthorn twigs, salt water pours over the twigs from the top of the saline. As gravity pulls the water down in small trickles, the water is nebulized and creates the marine air. Even on the hottest of days, a walk past the salines will refresh you with the cool air produced by this structure.
Bad Dürkheim’s saline, or Gradierbau, is 333 meters long, making it the longest saline in Germany. It is located at the Kurpark in the center of town, the location of the annual Wurstmarkt or wine festival each September. It is free to walk around and enjoy.
Written Sep 24, 2012
Is Hardenburg a castle or a fortress? Well, actually, it is both since over the centuries it has seen both uses behind its grand stone exterior.
We discovered Hardenburg quite by accident – while touring the Kloster Limburg on the hill above Bad Dürkheim we noticed the castle down in the Isenach valley below. Hubby, not to leave a potential trail unwalked, decided that we needed to explore since it was only a few kilometers away (downhill). So off we went to find this mystery castle in the valley.
The trails were well marked from Kloster Limberg which made the journey very easy and it was a pleasant hike through well maintained trails in the forest. We arrived at the castle ruin and were rather impressed at its size. Making our way around the castle, we entered the former castle’s formal garden (now just a grassy outline of the garden) and headed inside where we came to the ticket counter. We purchased our tickets (€3 each) and the clerk showed us which direction to begin.
As we wandered through the rooms and chambers of the castle, we could gain a sense of how large this structure used to be. We didn’t know anything about it at the time, except that it was a castle and it was big. So we went back to the ticket counter and purchased a small book on the ancient castles and palaces of the Rhineland-Palatinate.
From this book, we have learned that Hardenburg was begun back in the 1200s and was part of the Kloster Limberg property. However, the Kloster was eventually forced to give up the fortress to the Counts of Leiningen-Hardenburg, who have maintained the seat of the younger line of counts by the same name since 1317.
Various construction projects have gone on at the structure through the centuries with the castle serving as a residential castle for Count Emich VIII and Count Engelhard (1500s). In the upcoming years, the castle would undergo attack during the Thirty Years War, the War against the Netherlands, and the War against the League of Augsburg. It suffered its final destruction by the French revolutionary troops in 1794, 50 years after the castle was left by the counts to reside in a town palace in Bad Dürkheim. The ruin is now part of the Rhineland-Palatinate Castles Administration.
Open all year long except closed for the month of December, the castle can be visited from 9:00 am – 4:30 pm (January – March and October-November) and 9:00 am – 6:00 pm (April – September). Admission is €3 per person (children €1,50). There is a restaurant next to the castle which serves lunch and has an outdoor beer garden in the warmer months.
To get to Hardenburg by car, follow the B37 from Bad Dürkheim towards Kaiserslautern. You will see the castle on the hill in the district of Hardenburg not far from Bad Dürkheim. Park at the bottom of the hill and climb approximately 10 minutes up to the castle entrance.
To get to Hardenburg by bus, take the SWD #485 to the Hardenburg-Waldschlössel stop and walk up the hill to the castle.
Written Sep 24, 2012
Address: 67098 Bad Dürkheim - Ortsteil Hardenburg
Phone: +49 06322 7530
Sitting high on the hills above Bad Dürkheim is the ruin of Kloster Limburg (the photo on my Bad Dürkheim home page is of the Kloster). On our first visit to Bad Dürkheim, the plan was to visit the town; however, upon our approach to the town, we noticed the Klosterruine on the hills and detoured up to see what it was.
Very well preserved in its ruined state, you can still see the three aisled nave of the church and walk down the steps to look inside the crypt, which is still used for weddings. Off to the side of the church is the old refectory that sits beside the former sacristry, now the restaurant Klosterschäanke. There are free public bathrooms at the restaurant.
Historically, the Kloster Limberg was built in 1024 as a Benedictine Abbey, taking the name from an earlier castle on the same site, by the Salian Emperor Conrad II. From the period 1034-65, the imperial insignia and regalia were housed in Kloster Limberg. When Queen Gunhild of Denmark, the wife of Emperor Henry III (Conrad’s son), died in Italy in 1038, her body was buried in the nave of the Kloster. She was the daughter of Knut of Denmark. Her tomb is marked in the center of the nave by a concrete slab with engraved writings.
The Kloster was burned during the 1504 Landshut War of Succession and was not rebuilt. Stone was removed for building projects in the area and in 1843 the town of Bad Dürkheim purchased the property and preservation began.
Kloster Limberg is easy to find – we found it by simply following the signs, which will lead you through a housing area of Bad Dürkheim and up into the hills. Once you are at the Kloster, there is plenty of free parking on the grounds. It is free to enter the ruins.
We enjoyed our time so much that a couple weeks later we returned with some friends to show them our new-found historical hidden gem.
Directions to the Kloster with pictures can be found on the Kloster website.
Written Sep 24, 2012
"The Wurstmarkt is the only festival where you meet old friends you've never seen before.” ~ Karl Räder, local poet
It’s a Bad Dürkheim tradition for more than 570 years – the annual Wurstmarkt (sausage market) – attracting thousands of visitors each year. Advertised as the world’s largest wine festival, the festival is held each year during the first and second weekends in September. It is really more of a wine festival than a sausage festival, which makes sense since Bad Dürkheim is in the heart of the Deutsches Weinstrasse (German Wine Road).
We went on a Saturday after a morning of touring and mentally were expecting a smaller wine event with vintners selling their wares from small wooden stalls. What we were not expecting were the large amount of carnival rides, beer tents, and rows upon rows of wine stalls with tents to sit and enjoy the wines. There were lots and lots of people, but it made for a fun evening.
We met up with our friends, meeting them under the Ferris wheel since it was the tallest ride in the festival and easy to find. Then we headed over to one of the tents. We opted to sit outside the tent at one of the tables where we enjoyed some food and beverages. Close enough to the tent to still enjoy the music and watch the rowdy fest-goers on the inside, but at least on the outside we could actually hold a conversation!
As the sun began to set, the lights on the rides came on and the crowd got younger and rowdier. Before we left for the evening, we stopped and I got some chocolate covered strawberries for a snack while Hubby got some Oreo cookie covered almonds.
As with most festivals, there is plenty to eat – various types of wurst (sausage), pommes frites (fries), schnitzels, sweet treats, and a large variety of drinks, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic.
Parking was a little tricky since it is a very popular event. We parked several blocks away on a side street and walked to the festival, following the many other people that did the same thing as us. The festival is held in downtown Bad Dürkheim next to the salines and the large wine barrel. Easy to find – just look for the Ferris wheel! Admission is free.
I highly recommend this event if you are looking for a traditional German festival experience. It’s got the food, the drink, the entertainment, and the fun!
Written Sep 24, 2012
This is an update to my other review on hiking in the Bad Durkheim area. If you want to add to the hike that I talked about in my other post (Linburg Ruins and Hardenburg Castle Ruins) you can hike up to the Schlosseck Ruins. If you continue on the Blue Line trail and then turn onto the White Circle trail they are only about a mile past Hardenburg Castle. The last part of the trail is a switchback up to the top of the ridge. The ruins are not that impressive but if you like to hike and want a destination this will work. After visiting the ruins there is a unmarked trail that will take you back down to the road (across from the factory) where you can hook back into the blue trail to take you back to your car.
Written Apr 8, 2012
If you want to get a little exercise and see some fairly impressive ruins this is the perfect hike. The total distance of the walk is under 5 miles with two fairly long gentle hills you will need to climb (one on the way and one on the way back.
Just west of Bad Durkheim in the hills overlooking the town you will notice the Klosterruine Limburg. (Limburg Monastery Ruins). From this site you will notice the Hardenburg Castle ruins to we the west. These two ruins are connected by a nice walking path.
The Start: As you drive on the narrow road up to the Limburg Ruins you will notice a small parking lot just at a sharp bend in the road. This is a good place to start your walk (if you want, you can drive all the way up to the ruins and start there). Depending on your mood you can begin your hike by heading directly to the Castle ruins or you can visit the monastery first to get warmed up and get a great view of your future destination (the Castle). We started with the Monastery.
According the Bad Durkheim Wikipedia site the Linburg Kloster began in the 9th century as a fortress, built by the Salian Dukes from Worms as their family seat. In the early 11th century, the fortress was converted into a monastery with a basilica. It existed until the mid 16th century. Walking around the site you get a good feel for the size of the place and how busy it must have been in its hay day. The size of the refectory also gives you a sense of how many people once called this home. The former Nave is now a rookery for Hooded Crows and their are numerous pigeons nesting wherever there are nooks in the stones.
Once you have explored the hilltop, head toward the Castle using the signposts located a fairly regular intervals on the path. The paths in the Pfaltz Nature Park are well marked, usually with a different colored lines. For you the hike to the Castle you will follow the blue line. The trail heads down into the valley for the first half of the hike and then heads back up toward the castle. It is not a strenuous hike but it is not for the out-of-shape. If you are one of those, you can drive to the castle.
Currently there is construction going on at the Castle, built it is still open for touring. To enter the actual castle you will need to shell out three euro but it is worth it. On the Saturday we visited the ticket seller didn't speak English but he still tried to teach us some of the history of the castle and the efforts they are taking to preserve it. If you want more information on the Castle they sell an English book on it as well as a book on all the "Castles, palaces and Antiquities of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate".
When you are finished, you can head back to your car or you can stop at the local cafe next to the Castle for a glass of beer (or wine) to fortify for your hike back. There is also a restaurant at the Linburg Ruins if you want to stop there at the end of your hike.
Expect to spend about three hours on this hike. If you are more adventurous there are some other sites within hiking distance of the Castle. These include the Schlossbeck Ruins (haven't seen it yet) and the Bismark Turm (tower).
Written Apr 1, 2012