The Neckar Lock
I like to watch ships going through a lock. When we were there we were lucky, first a long barge went through and then , on the second lock, three rowing boats.
Both had very distinctive problems. The long barge had to be very careful going into the lock, as there was no much space left and right. It was a strange feeling standing on the bridge , watching this huge ship coming closer and closer! Then, when the water went down, the man working on deck had to tie and untie the rope a couple of times, to prevent the ship being drawn by the gush of water.
The much smaller rowing boats didn't have to worry about bumping on the walls, but they had a hard time not getting drawn out by the water. The oarsmen had to stick their oars into the little nooks in the wall. Very hard work for them! People cheered to them when they finally went through the lock and rowed away.
An Old Roman Stone
Dossenheim - Schwabenheimer Hof
Before locks and the canal, the Neckar was a dangerous river. Almost each year there were huge floods. If you go to the Old Bridge in Heidelberg, you can see the high water marks there.
In Schwabenheimer Hof you can see a large stone which was found in the river. It had been used by the Romans for a tombstone in second or third century.
Close to the place where it was found in the Neckar the remains of the castle Schwabeck were also found. This castle was first mentioned in 1320 ,but was completely destroyed by a flood in 1527. What a strong flood this must have been!
Nothing definite is known, but it's quite possible that the knights had used the Roman stones when building the castle.
On the stone you can see the coat of arms of the knights, who used to live in Schwabeck.
The Rock Breakers of Dossenheim
Dossenheim is a small town a few kilometers from Heidelberg. Many people working or studying in Heidelberg live here.
In the centre of the the town there is statue of a man with a sort of an oar. It looks a bit like someone trying to steer a boat. But it's not, it's a statue of someone working in a quarry. These people were called the "rock breakers", as it was their job to break off the rocks in the quarry. A very hard job, I'm sure!
For almost two centuries these rock breakers did their job in Dossenheim, from 1760 on to the 20th century. When you look up towards the hills, you can still see the quarries.
The Fountains of Leutershausen
Leutershausen is proud of having many fountains, in fact it used to be called the "fountain village".
One of the newer fountains is at the (very small) market square, right next to a sculpture of the town crier. This fountain is from 2001. This is also the stop for the Ruftaxi, a taxi you can call when there is no public transport to your destination. You only pay the ticket price for a streetcar.
I thought at first the statue was related to the Ruftaxi, like you ring a bell to call the taxi.
But of course not, the market square was the place where the latest official news were proclaimed by the town crier.He probably needed to ring his bell to get the attention of all the gossiping people at market days.
The second picture shows one of the old fountains.
The Black Madonna
Most probably you've never heard of this small town between Weinheim and Heidelberg,
unless you're Catholic.Then it's possible that you've read about the "Black Madonna" in
This is a statue of Mary holding baby Jesus, carved in black wood. Since 1737 it has been
the destination of many pilgrimages. In this year the count living in Leutershauses had a
chapel put up close to his castle. There are records proving that the Black Madonna was
in this chapel from the very beginning.
It is possible that it had been in the town before that date, maybe even during the 30-years-war,but there are no records.
Today the statue is in the Catholic church. This church is not very old, roughly about 100 years. Apart from pilgrimages and processions, many people come here regurlarly to pray. You can see many small plates, saying "Mary had helped".
The altar is not just a table, but sits on a large carving of the last supper. Again quite new,
it was carved in 1990 .
- Religious Travel
Driving down the Bergstrasse you can still see some fields on which tobacco is grown.
The tobacco was used to make cigars and for many years a lot of families were earning some money from tobacco.The leaves were hung and dried in tobacco barns. There are a few old tobacco barns still in Viernheim,about 100 years old.
Since there is no longer any tobacco industry in Viernheim, the barns were turned into some private homes, the public library and a meeting hall for talks,concerts etc.
The attics of the barn had many small openings, slits. Today this causes a problem, as the pidgeons just love to fly into the barns. So all these slits had to be closed, but at least in the public library you can always hear the pidgeons coo. For a minute or two this sounds nice, but it drives the librabrians working there crazy!
The centre of Viernheim is dominated by the Apostelkirche, the church of St Aposteln. It was
built in the end of 19th century and finished in 1899. In the 1950s and 1970s some renovation
work was done, which mostly resulted in old paintings being painted over. Currently the church is being renovated again, this time the attempt is made to recover all the original work. The old attic proved to be a treasure, as some of the original tapestries and wooden beams were found there, stored away in a dusty corner.
I will try to add some pictures of the beautiful inside of the church later, but it was locked when I last tried to go in.
Occasionally there are guided tours,when you can climb the tower, 70 meters tall. From up there you can see all of Viernheim.
In the forest between Viernheim and Hüttenfeld there is a stone cross, very withered already, even though it's not too old.It is the early 19th century reproduction of a much older stone cross from 13th century, which is in the museum now. People here call it the repentance cross.
There are several possible explanations for this name. The only certain fact seems to be
that a knight died on this spot in 13th century.
One story says two brothers were in love with the same woman and during a fight,
one of them killed the other. He then felt so sorry, that he had this cross put up.
A more elaborate legend : A knight from near-by Weinheim named von Reich fell in love with a young girl. He himself was married and the girl was engaged. So he sent her fiancé to a crusade and told one of his servants to make sure he'd die there. When the fiancé wasn't killed in battle, the servant murdered him.
However, before he died, he vowed to take revenge.
Some time later, the Weinheim knight was riding through the woods, when the ghost of the murdered man appeared. The horse shied and the knight was thrown off and died. His widow had the repentance cross put up and only then could the ghost find peace.
The first picture shows the cross, the second gives some explanation of the name.
The cross can be found in the forest north of A6 and west of A67,near the path called
- Historical Travel
This is not a tip, but a sort of introduction to the town of Viernheim/Bergstrasse.
Even though Viernheim belongs to the state of Hesse, everything there is
oriented towards Mannheim,which is in Baden-Württemberg.When both Frankfurt (Hesse) and Mannheim were competing for the Olympic Games, all of Hesse supported Frankfurt, except for Viernheim.
The people there were hoping Mannheim would be a venue.
In fact, Viernheim could be a suburb of Mannheim.
There are two major exceptions, however: One is the educational system,
which is always determined by the federal state, the other are the number
of religious holidays.
Since Baden-Württemberg is a more catholic state than Hesse,
there are two more religious holidays in the year, November 1 and January 6.
So when, several years ago, a shopping mall was built, it was built in Viernheim
because of two more shopping days. The Rhein-Neckar Zentrum mall is best be avoided during these days!
Going there on these days would warrant a "warnings and danger" tip.
Fuerstenlager - The Summer Residence
A bit further down the hill, but still in Bensheim-Auerbach there is the former summer residence of the counts and dukes of Hesse, called the Fuerstenlager. This was established at the end of the 18th century, several buildings within a large park.
Don't expect something like a symmetrical garden, it's more like a huge, natural garden with many trees. Among these trees you can see one of the oldest sequoias in Germany.
There is also a field with lots of apple trees, a large part of a forest and several hiking paths.
One of the buildings today has been turned into a hotel, another into a small museum, there are two restaurants there and a sculptor has her workshop there.
It's a very nice area to walk for one hour or two. Parking is down in the village, only hotel guests are allowed to drive up.
No entrance fee for the park. I read they offer guided tours for 4 Euro, but didn't see any office in the park where we could have booked them. If you're really interested, I would advise to call ahead and ask.
- Family Travel
A famous pine tree on the wall
Auerbach Castle is famous for a pine tree , which has been growing for more than 300 years now. This tree grows on the wall, with hardly any ground at all. It's growing out of the stones, not in any garden. Because of that it's very small for being so old, but it's amazing that it's growing there at all. Another, much smaller tree is growing right out of the wall above one of the old windows, see picture 2. It'll be interesting to see if this tree also manages to keep growing at such an unusual place.
Michelstadt is well known for its very old town hall and the lovely christmas market.
Please feel free to visite my separate travel page about Michelstadt to see a few more pictures. Enjoy!
- Family Travel
Zwingenberg - 2
Up a little hill you find a small and lovely church. The evangelic church was build after 1258 by Diether V. Graf von Katzenelnbogen The church is surrounded by a little kind of city wall. In the garden is a small cemetery.
Very funny name, translated into Englisch the Earls last name would be cat elbow arc.
- Religious Travel
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
Zwingenberg - 1
Zwingenberg is another lovely small town as well as the oldest town at the Bergstrasse. It is about 10 km north of my hometown Heppenheim
As many other towns in this area Zwingenberg has also each summer a wine festival in the streets of the old city center.
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Erbach is ...
... well known for ivory and therefore you can find little elefants everywhere, like at this lamp.