Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wednesday At Himmerod Abbey and Manderscheid Castle

Wednesday brought more beautiful weather, so it was time for more exploring. We decided to see a couple of nearby castle ruins, and headed off in that direction. Imagine my surprise when we just happened to drive past this lovely Abbey. I'd read about Himmerod Abbey, but I didn't realize how close it was to us. Of course, we had to stop and check it out. The Himmerod Abbey was built more than 900 years ago, and is nestled in the Salm Valley in Germany. During Napoleon's occupation, the entire monastery complex was destroyed and turned into a rock quarry. The Abbey was rebuilt between 1937 and 1959, according to it's original plans. This is a statute of the French abbot St. Bernard of Clairvaux. He's the reason the Abbey is here today. He was wandering through the Salm valley and loved how peaceful and beautiful it was. As a result, this is the first Cistercian monastery to be built on German soil. Our next stop for the day was Manderscheid Castle. These two castles face each other in the Lieser Valley. For many years, the owners of the castles were enemies. Neither trusted the other, and this eventually led to a war. They could practically sit in their living rooms and fight each other. Manderscheid Castle is the larger one to the right. Both castle ruins are open for exploration, but Manderscheid Castle hosts an annual Medieval Festival on the last weekend in August, so if you find yourself in the area, be sure to check it out. Once again, I'm learning that exploring castles in Germany means lots of hiking, so wear comfy shoes if you are serious about this! We climbed up and explored the ruins of Manderscheid castle. You can go all the way up to the top of the castle to where the flag is, so of course... we did! Awwwww...aren't they cute? OK, my Blogger is acting a little wonky again, and refuses to post this picture upright, so just turn your head side ways for this one. This is taken from the top of the castle, and you can see the outlines of the different rooms. It's also a nice view of the lovely cafe across the street of the castle. Castle exploration can be a little tiring, so be sure to stop by there for a lovely cappuccino before you head off to the next one! You also have a great view of the neighboring castle from the top of Manderscheid Castle. They could practically carry on a conversion between the two. (If they weren't trying to kill each other, that is.) Well, it might look close, but getting from one to the other means hiking back down this hill, through the valley, and back up the next hill to the other castle. Yes, we had to do it. There was a lovely little stream winding though the valley between the two castles, so we relaxed for a little bit and just enjoyed the view. I'd build a house here, but apparently the valley between two castles isn't for sale. Go figure.
It took a while, but we made it to the top of the other castle and now have a great view of the first one. If you look closely at the center of the picture, you can see a fellow in a white shirt taking our picture and I was taking his. If he had shouted out his e-mail address, I could have saved him a serious hike. I'm just saying.
We started back down the mountain, but Brandon spotted a little lookout hut on top of a THIRD mountain to the right center of these two, and...being the adventurous young fellow that he is...just had to check it out. Jess and I relaxed on a bench and enjoyed the view while he took off to the top of that one. Russ was going to relax, too, but it's just not in him. Before too long, he took off after Brandon to explore, as well. I'd have to admit, I enjoyed the break. Much too quickly, they were back and we took off again. After a long and invigorating hike back down the mountain, we headed back to Spang for some much deserved rest. ( We won't mention the stop for ice cream at a nearby town. It's not MY fault that their huge chocolate sundaes were dwarfed by my gallon sized soft serve ice cream cone! Next time they'll listen to me. I love Europe!)

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