Amsterdam was a small fishing village in the 12th century that turned into a major port city in the 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age. Amsterdam has many water canals, not just for easy transport but also because Amsterdam is mostly under sea level. The canals are the result of the dams and dikes that was built to hold off the flood water from the sea. The well-known windmills were energy source used to pump water back into the sea to keep the land dry. Having to constantly balance the level of waters, the Dutch has created the modern water management system of today which is continuously updating as the rising sea level of global warming.
Rijksmuseum is the national museum dedicated to the arts and history of Amsterdam.
Other scenes within the museum.
wonderful stain-glass window
revealed during recent renovation
reveaked during recent renovations
where different tour groups meet
Some interesting paintings on display at the museum. We can see the progression of paintings from still portraits on the simple life and still objects to intricate brushwork, using white to bring out the lace and fabric; and later paintings showing actions and motions.
Cologne is the 4th largest city in Germany and the most populated city of the Rhine River. Cologne had been a major trading route between east and west Europe. The city was built by the Romans, occupied by the Holy Roman Empire, by the French during Napoleonic Era, and by the British briefly, after World War I. During World War II, about 61% of the city was destroyed. The cities pre-war Jewish population were either deported or killed. The city’s six synagogues were destroyed.
Today’s Cologne was the result of the 1945 Cologne urban planning and 1947 reconstruction of the city. The constructions of streets and thoroughfares to the city center help to modernize the city. Some old landmarks were chosen to be rebuilt. Cologne is a modern city with reflections of the old.
The Kolner Dom (The Cathedral Church of St Peter) is the tallest building second to the Telecommunication tower of 1981. It is the landmark of Cologne which can be seen all around town. It can hold more than 20,000 people. Because it holds the shrine of the Three Wise Men and has impressive stain-glass windows, it was included in the UNESCO world heritage site.
The Rhine Gorge, the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites due to its unique historical, cultural, geographical, and industrial combination. This 65 kilometers of the waterway between Koblenz and Bingen had been a very important trading route for a long time before the railroads. Because it was a major trading route and the center of Holy Roman Empire small towns and castles built along its banks. Due to wars, the castles fell into ruins, however, the small towns pretty much stayed the same.
Because the area water currents and the sound of a small waterfall in this area at the time caused an echoing effect, people named it the murmuring rock. Plus the position of Lorelei protruding around the bank caused many boating accidents. Stories were spin around these odd phenomena, such as elves living in the rock. In 1801, Clemens Brentano composed a ballad about a beautiful maiden betrayed by her love, was accused of bewitching men and causing their death. On her way to the nunnery to serve her sentence, from the top of Lorelei Rock she thought she saw her lover and plunge to death. The story inspired many poems, songs, folklore, and even in the works of symphonies.
The towns along the Gore stayed the same due to its livelihood which did not change much from ancient times. Its special gorge climate and geographic condition especially the slopes facing south are a very good condition for a kind of terraced vineyards. The wines from these vineyards are very special.
vineyards along the slopes of the Rhine Gorge
Step terrace vineyards
Other scenes of the Rhine Gorge. Artists are attracted to this region and often drew inspiration from here for their creations.
Koblenz came from the Latin words which mean the convergence of two rivers, the Rhine and the Moselle. Because of its strategic position on a major waterway, it was in a prime location to collect tolls and levy taxes on goods that were on the merchant ships passing by. For this reason only, Koblenz had different occupants throughout its history. With this, of course, came the largest fortress built between 1817 and 1828 and it is the best-preserved fortress in Europe on the Unesco World Heritage List of 2002. Ehrenbreitstein Fortress located on the hilltop east of the Rhine across from Koblenz. It overlooks the old town of Koblenz and at the same time monitor the waterways of Rhine and Moselle.
The grounds of the fortress now houses several museums, exhibition halls, pubs, and a youth hostel.
View from the fort Ehrenbreitstein and the cable car ride.
This Statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I is a reconstruction of the old one which was destroyed during World War II. This is his memorial in honor of his Unification of Germany after three years of war. The original one was erected in 1897 and this replacement was erected in 1993. This has been a part of UNESCO world heritage “Upper Middle Rhine Valley” site since 2002
The Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) built-in the 5th century on the highest point in the town of Koblenz on a Roman foundation. Since that time it had been rebuilt and expanded on its original foundation. For a time from late middle age to the French Revolution, it served as the church of Koblenz.
Heildelberg Castle Ruins is the landmark of Heidelberg. It is one of the most important Renaissance structure north of the Alps. It was built as a castle in the twelve hundreds. After several natural and man-made destructions, the rebuilding and expansion resulted in a three castle structure and through several changes of ownership it fell in ruins. Its position on the hillside is one of the reasons why it’s beauty charmed the romantics of the time.
Some scenes from the castle ruins.
Heidelberg Castle Ruin did not become a tourist attraction until the 19th century when the town is connected to the railroad system. The American writer, Mark Twain got his inspiration for Huckleberry Finn here as well as “A Tramp Abroad”.The banks of Neckar River that inspired Mark Twain for his Huckleberry Finn
Heidelberg is a university town. Heidelberg University founded in the 14th century, the oldest institution of higher education in Germany. Students, from the university, make up a quarter of its population. They bring in the vibrant vitality. innovation spirit, and idealistic vision which is unique to this town. Heidelberg’s attraction is this unique blend of the old and the new. Photos below show a variety of the old and the new.
Würzburg, a city in Germany’s Bavaria region. It is the center of Franconian wine country. Therefore is the home of many winery, wine cellars, and bars. The Franconian wine stores in distinctive round flat bottles ( bocksbeutel). Memorable wine tasting at the Staatlicher Hofkeler Würzburg, the former Prince Bishop’s Cellar.
Wine tasting list of wines to be tasted
Each wine tasting settings
Wine tasting room
Würzburg Residence was the palace of Prince Bishops. Its construction was intended to be comparable to the Palace of Versailles or the Schonbrunn Palace. It is one of the masterpieces of Baroque/Rococo style architecture. Although most of it was destroyed or damaged by World War II, the grand staircase, the Imperial Hall, and the chapel still stand. After much restoration and reconstruction work was done from 1945 to 1987 to its present form. The Residence, and its Court Garden and Square are listed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Among the busy shopping center is the Old Main Bridge (Alte Mainbrucke) built 1473-1543. The pedestrian bridge is aligned with statues of saints.
And lastly the landmark of Würzburg, the Marienberg Fortress which stands on the west bank of the Main River. It originally was a fort built in ancient times but became a fortress and home of the Prince-Bishop. It was severally damaged in the Second World War and since rebuild in 1990. Now it houses two museums. From where it stands, one can see the whole city of Würzburg.
Nuremberg city would always be associated with the Nazi Party in our recent history. Nuremberg is where the Nazi Party took to power and Nuremberg is where it stood trial for its war crimes for the world to see.
Beyond its infamous recent history. Nuremberg has a glorious past as the center of the Holy Roman Empire, build around the banks of River Pegnitz. The vibrant trade brought excellent artisans and craftsmen thus established itself as the cradle of the German Renaissance.
A walkabout revealed a picturesque town as you can see below.
of course, a walk should always end in food and enjoy the most notable Bratwurst and beer.