15 – 17 September 2019 Brey – Frankfurt am Main
Brey is about 9 kilometres from Koblenz and is situated on the Romantic Rhine. We stopped at Brey to see the Römische Wasserleitung (Roman aqueduct), an ancient aqueduct tunnel rediscovered in the mid-20th century by Brey citizens who were searching for bomb damage during the Second World War. Since 2002, the remains of the Roman aqueduct are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Upper Middle Rhine Valley.
To get to the aqueduct we walked about 2 kilometres through the village of Brey. In one of the streets there are houses from 1680 to 1900s each with a plaque about the house. Unfortunately, the information is written in German, so I am not sure of the significance of each individual house.
After walking through the woods, following the signs we finally arrived at the site of the aqueduct which is only a very small section of remains. There is a visitor’s terrace, built by the citizens of Brey, which make it possible to get an impression of the construction and function of this water pipe. We were expecting something a little bigger, but the walk was pleasant and what we could see was impressive.
We then continued onto Frankfurt along the Rhine river with its beautiful castles and vineyard on the slopes.
We found our free camp for the night in a park with a café and playground.
Frankfurt am Main
Frankfurt is on the River Main, a tributary of the Rhine. It is a major financial hub that is home to the European Central Bank. Much of the city was damaged during World War II and later rebuilt.
We went on a Free Walking Tour to gain an insight into Frankfurt that is not necessarily found in the guidebooks.
The sights of Frankfurt:
Hauptbahnhof, the main train station, opened in 1888 and is one of the largest of its kind in Europe in terms of the number of long-distance trains and passenger numbers. The station district is a melting pot of cultures. The neighbourhood is also a prime example of urban antagonisms that an international transportation hub creates. Beggars, alcoholics and junkies are as present as bankers and day trippers, along with the streams of employed commuters. On top of the building is a statue of Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders and is assisted by two allegorical figures representing steam and iron. It is a very impressive structure.
We found another Stolpersteine or stumbling block on the pavement underneath the last known residence of the Holocaust victim. No matter how many times we see these reminders it still gives a very unsettling feeling.
Old Nikolai Church (Alte Nikolaikirche) is a small church, dating back to the 13th century which served as a royal chapel for nobility and an electoral site for kings and parliaments. It has been rebuilt twice: once after a fire in 1867 and then in the 1950s after the war. It has a carillon with 47 bells which rang whist we were there, and the sound is very enchanting.
In the heart of Frankfurt’s Old Town (Altstadt), is the Römerberg, an irregularly shaped square. Despite extensive damage from bombardment during the Second World War, the Römerberg’s unique architecture has been painstakingly restored. It is one of the more aesthetic sights of Frankfurt.
The Römer, is a trio of medieval patricians’ homes, which have served as the City Hall (Rathaus), since the early 1400s and continues to be the seat of the city’s Lord Mayor to this day. The dark bricks on the buildings are the original bricks which were used to rebuild the houses after 1944 air raids which destroyed much of old Frankfurt. The buildings were reconstructed in 1954 from the original 15th to 18th century floor plans. The buildings have beautiful murals on each of the arched entries of the courtyard.
The famous landmark facade of the Römer is the one facing the square Römerberg. It is here, where the famous Kaisersaal (Emperors’ Hall) opens to the square with a large balcony on which the German national football team used to be welcomed by German fans whenever they returned home from a World or Euro Cup. This occurred up until the World Cup in 2006 when the celebration moved to Berlin. It was also where John F. Kennedy addressed the crowd during his visit to Germany in 1963, just the day before giving his famous speech in Berlin.
New Old Town (Neue Alstadt) is the old town area which has been reconstructed according to historical blueprints and recreation of the corona route between the Cathedral and Römer City Hall. To date, there are 11 buildings, many with open fronted shops on the street level, which were once common throughout the old town.
Kaiserdom (St Bartholomew Cathedral) is the fifth structure known to have existed at this location and was built between the 13th and 15th centuries. Restoration of damage from the war began in 1948 and has given the cathedral its present-day appearance. Apparently, between 1562 and 1792 ten monarchs were crowned emperor here.
Around the Alstadt there were two people creating sand sculptures of animals. We walked past them earlier in the day and after our 2 hour walking tour they were still working on their sculptures when we walked past again. The sculptures are very detailed and so life like.
Apfelwein is a drink made from green apples and has been the choice of Frankfurt’s taverns for more than 250 years. Like all traditional drinks it has its own paraphernalia, it comes in a Bembel, a stoneware pitcher painted with filigree patterns, and is poured into a glass with a ribbed pattern, known as a Gerippte. The reason for the ribbed glass is for grip. Apfelwein is best drunk with a brezel, a pretzel with more bread than crunch. We decided to have a taste. The Apfelwein has a tart, sour taste and the brezel is like a bread roll inside with a harder outer layer and comes in the same shape as a pretzel and eaten with butter. An interesting idea but I think cider is much nicer.
Next morning, we drove to our next destination, Rothenburg ob der Tauber.