Monday, 11 August 2014

Bacharach: meet me half way on the Rhine River

To call the Rhine River in southwest Germany a mere fascination would be an understatement like calling a pointillist painting a drawing of dots.  The Rhine is a river with a thousand castles, and a thousand stories, and they testify to the importance of this historic waterway since time immemorial. 

A classic Rhine River tour begins at the confluence of the Main and Rhine, roughly 30 minutes drive west of Frankfurt.  The tour then follows the river northward, passing through towns and castles on both banks of the river.  Small car and
passenger ferries in various points jet travelers (and locals) across the peaceful water.


Another half-hour drive after you reach the Rhine from Frankfurt you will arrive at an old Celtic town of Bacharach.  Founded long before recorded history of the town in 11th century, Bacharach was an important trading centre for the wine of the Rhine region.  No doubt benefitting from the lucrative trade, a castle named Stahleck (or the Impregnable) was also built around the same time.  It is now a youth hostel.

如果你沒有因被這迷人的景色迷住而停留太久的話,大概三十分鐘之後你就會到達古老的巴哈拉小鎮。這個河岸小鎮最初的歷史記載是在十一世紀,但這個小鎮的建立比這記載還要早呢!巴哈拉從前是萊茵河區域一個十分重要的城鎮,主要從事葡萄酒貿易,因而致富,並在同一時期興建了Stahleck 城堡,城堡現在是青年人旅社。

I visited the castle very briefly a few years back.  This time I spent an extra moment studying its history and architecture, and even found time to scale up the hill across so as to get a better view of the impregnable structure.  The main castle, built atop a small hill, is led up by a marked path and stairs, passing through a ruined cathedral.  Not satisfied with this view, I began to hike up the mountain across the castle.  To do that I would have to follow the route through one of the steepest slopes of vineyard I have ever seen.


With a bit of effort, we reached the top of the mountain and were rewarded a stunning view of the river and the castle.  Now was the time to take in its immensity, both in its size and in its thousand-year history - its founding by Goswin von Stahleck in early 12th century; its owners' rise to power through series of strategic marriages, becoming an important gathering spot for the nobility (Ludwig IV was elected as King here in 1314, Charles IV and Anna was married here); and its ill fated destruction during the Thirty Years' Wars.  It was at one point conquered and occupied by the Spanish, the Swedes, and the French, and under the Prussian crown  in early 20th century it was ultimately re-built and restored. 

這座城堡除了佔地龐大外,她千年來的歷史故事亦是不可小看的!在十二世紀初期,Goswin von Stahleck 先生建立了這座城堡,其後城堡的主人們經過幾段有策略的婚姻去提升城堡的社會地位及權力,並成為了當地鄉紳名流的聚腳點,之後經過歐洲主要的三十年戰爭後就衰落了。這座城堡曾被西班牙、瑞典、法國佔據,在二十世紀初普魯士人佔領的時候進行了一次大復修,這就是今天我們所看到的樣子了!

Bacharach can be reached directly from Frankfurt in an hour, but I would highly recommend stopping over at Eltville and Rudesheim (separate blogs on these two towns to come).  Stahleck Castle Hostel can be booked here:

哈巴拉小鎮可從法蘭克福出發前往,車程大概一小時。Eltville 以及 Rudesheim 亦是值得一看的地方,建議預留時間遊覧。如果想入住 Stahleck 古堡旅社可在這連結預約

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