Niederwalddenkmal – the Germania trap
I’m actually not sure if I should recommend to visit the monument Niederwalddenkmal, because it symbolises “something” I am completely rejecting: decadent triumph over a country after a war. I also remember that I didn’t like this monument already when I was a kid and had to go there with my school class. But as it sits very obvious atop of the vineyards west of Rüdesheim and as so many tour operators create a dubious hype, I should mention it. But… as we have the lovely tourist trap section, I place it here, as it is one in my humble opinion.
This monument was erected shortly after the Franco-Prussian War (1870/71), and should symbolise the foundation of the German Empire (or unification of Prussia and the other German states). Obviously, this victory over France with all its results was so important to our forefathers that they had to express this in building this extremely expensive giant ensemble: Germania dominates it, looks across the Rhine to the regained territory (10 m high and 32 tons in weight), she holds the Empire’s crown high into the sky as if to demonstrate power and victory. A bit spiteful in my opinion. Below her is a collection of dates and coats of arms and a huge relief with Germany’s elite figures gathering around Emperor Wilhelm I. Left and right are two angels, symbolising war and peace. And below is a bas-relief of Father Rhine who hands over a watch horn to “sister” (or daughter) Mosel, as he no longer needs to guard his left bank.
It is said that more than 1 million Reichsmark were needed to fulfil the dreams of Wilhelm and Bismarck, and who else than their folk had to pay for it.
That’s maybe why I do not like this monument – it is as if nothing has changed since 125 years. Emperors make their folk following them blindly by holding empty phrase speeches and the folk is more than willing to do as they are told and won’t realise that all is done to glorify the want-to-be immortal emperors (kings, governors, politicians, company boards, etc - exchangeable). Somehow this monument reflects our actual “macrocosm” Germany and the “microcosmosms” within pretty well.
Yes, that’s why I do not like it, why I see it as a tourist trap which catches more of the blind folk for glorification.
Needless to say that it is currently renovated for – according to Wikipedia – more than 3 million Euro. And needless to say who has to pay for this…
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Fun Alternatives: There are plenty of alternatives: 40 m next to the monument is an eagle station for owls, eagles and falcons. A bit more uphill is Abbey of St. Hildegard, a community of Benedictine nuns, which was founded by famous St. Hildegard of Bingen in 12th century.
© Ingrid D., July 2008.
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel
Eltville instead of Rüdesheim!!
Are you amazed to find this Drosselgasse thingy of Rüdesheim on my tourist trap list for Bingen? It is one in my opinion and I even go that far to state that it is one of the three main German tourist traps apart from Oktoberfest and Neuschwanstein Castle. Why? That’s simple. I know, I know, many people would say that it is a must. But I am not many oeple, I am.. just me, Ingrid :-)
Ok, lean back, close your eyes and recall what your mind’s eye imagines of Germany. What do you see? Lovely picturesque castles, wine villages, happy people, lovely wine, marvellous landscape? Good, and yes, correct for most of Germany. What the marketing subjects (= who have invented Drosselgasse as a must-see) won’t tell you is that you won’t be alone in Drosselgasse. Besides you it will be gazillions of other people who were taken by this clever marketing strategy and came to see the famous Drosselgasse. You will be squeezed into this Drosselgasse, it will be worse than the poor life of a poor sardine in a lousy tiny bin. You will sweat, you will be kicked into any of your body parts by the moving masses around you almost every second. You will feel that you must be constantly alert and watch your belongings. You cannot decide to stop here or there for closer looks because the steamrolling mass behind you will simply not allow this. When you are hungry and have developed enough power to break through this wobbling steamrolling mass of people and eventually find yourself in one of Drosselgasse’s wine pubs, you will get average if not unlovingly thrown on plate meals and when you want to pay you eventually realise that there is nothing left in your budget for an ice cream.
Are you still sure that you want to visit famous Drosselgasse? Really sure??? Ok, go and have your ultimate painful experience. Don’t say that no one warned you. And don’t even dare to complaint that Germany is ripp off. This Drosselgasse is not Germany. It has as much to do with Germany as a cow can travel on the moon. It is only one clever marketing strategy of some subjects.
Unique Suggestions: Don't go! What did I write above, lol?
Fun Alternatives: Alternatives? As much as gazillions of other people will end up in Drosselgasse as much gazillions of other lovely, picturesque, charming villages are just a stone throw away from Rüdesheim where you will not be squeezed to death and where at the end of a meal you have enough left of your budget to buy yourself an ice cream for the next several weeks.
There is Eltville, there is Assmannshausen, there is Oestrich Winkel, there is any other wine village in this part of Hessen, Rheingau, where you can have all this. But not in Drosselgasse.
And who knows? Maybe you find your personal treasure box village and street with wine pubs, come home and can tell all your friends and family about how lovely Rheinhessen was and how excellent the meals and wines. And tell them: don't you ever go to Drosselgasse.
My photo.... no, I haven't been there. But I was in a cute exhibition about travel souvenirs of the seventies of last century. During that time, these kind of wooden souvenirs were extremely popular. Flat wood, and a painting of the destination. One of these was with... you guessed, Drosselgasse. And if the painter has reflected the crowds of the seventies, add 100 times more people and you get the picture as it would be by now......
© Ingrid D., December 2010.
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