Monday 9 September 2019 – Wednesday 11 September 2019 Bonn – Konigswinter- Remagen – Ahrweiler
We arrived in Bonn and found a camper stop 4 kilometres outside the city. We caught the train into Bonn and called into the Tourist Office to get a map and headed on our way around the city.
Bonn is about 24 kilometres from Cologne and straddles the Rhine river. It is famously known as the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven and where he spent his childhood and teenage years. Founded in the 1st century BC as a Roman settlement, Bonn is one of Germany’s oldest cities. From 1949 to 1990, Bonn was the capital of West Germany and from 1990 to 1999, served as the seat of government, but no longer capital of the reunited Germany.
Walking around the city area we passed:
Beethoven Monument, a large bronze statue of Ludwig van Beethoven which was unveiled on 12 August 1845, in honour of the 75th anniversary of the composer’s birth. It dominates the Marktplat and stands in a very central place.
Sterntor is a double tower city gate at the edge of the Stermstraβ. In the 17th century the city wall served mainly to fortify the bastions, but at the end of the 19th century, the city was extended and many of the gates were demolished. The Sterntor is the last medieval gate in the city.
Beethoven-Haus is the birthplace of the famous German composer Ludwig van Beethoven which now houses a museum. The museum houses the largest Beethoven collection in the world, using authentic documents which depict his life and work. Unfortunately, it is closed at present due to extensive renovations for his 250th birthday celebrations in 2020.
Rathaus (Old Town Hall) is situated on the Bonn Marktplat and was completed around 1780. The golden stairs leading down to the marketplace has been the place for a number of important speeches delivered by Charles de Gaulle, John F. Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth II and Mikhail Gorbachev. Today it still serves as an office for the mayor. The building is very striking and the ornate wrought iron railings on the flight of stairs still remain today.
Haus der Geschichte (House of History) is a museum depicting German history from the post war era to the present day. The information is presented through interactive media stations, historic film and audio recordings, and a variety of displays of items and settings from various time periods. The permanent exhibition contains exhibits from the history of German politics, economy, culture and everyday life since 1945 and is presented in chronological order.
We toured the museum, with the use of an audio guide which was great as it guided us through the vast complex covering 4 floors. This museum creates a vivid portrait of Germany’s post war history and it helped us gain a better understanding of German history from 1945 onwards and the influence USA, France, Britain and USSR had on post war Germany.
To visit Burg Drachenfels and Castle Drachenburg situated on top of a steep wooded hill overlooking the Rhineland we caught the Drachenfelsbahn, Germany’s oldest cog railway. It was a novel and historical way to reach the top of the Drachenfels which only took ten minutes.
At the top is a lookout point overlooking the Rhine, where the view of the Rhine river is magical. From here, it is a short walk up a steep winding path to Burg Drachenfels, a ruined castle built in the 12th century and destroyed in 1633 during the 30 years’ war. All that remains is a broken tower with sweeping views of the Bonn and the Rhineland below.
We then boarded the cog train down the hill to the middle stop which is the entrance to Schloss Drachenburg, a perfectly preserved castle from the late 19th century. The castle grounds are immaculate with perfectly groomed shrubs and golden statues of deer. Inside the castle the ceilings are adorned with stunning murals and every room is decorated in period style.
It was a unique way to travel to see the ruins and castle and the views of the Rhine river and surrounding area from above at the Drachenfel nature reserve are stunning.
We then drove to Remagen, situated on the left bank of the river Rhine, just south of Bonn.
At Remagen is the remains of the Lundendorff Bridge which was constructed between 1916 and 1919 using Russian prisoners of war as labour.
Remagen is known for the history of one fateful day in early March 1945, when the Brϋcke von Remagen (the steel rail bridge) lasted long enough for Allied troops to cross the river, contributing significantly to the collapse of Hitler’s western front. The German commander only had 300 kilograms of explosives and to allow dispersion of troops to make the transition, he ordered a late destruction. The detonation tore a hole in the construction but did not completely destroy the bridge, allowing nine American brigades to cross. Nine days after the Americans captured the bridge, the bridge collapsed, killing 33 American engineers and wounding 63. German and American military authorities agreed that capturing the bridge shortened the war. The Lundendorff Bridge was not rebuilt following World War II.
The two bridge towers remain on both the Erpel and Remagen sides of the Rhine river with a small section of steel girders. The Remagen tower contains a peace museum but is presently closed due to technical upgrades.
We continued on to Ahrweiler where we stayed 100 metres from the town walls in a private Aire.