Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Traben-Trarbach: twin delights

The Brückentor (Bridge Gate) is the symbol of Traben-Trarbach
(All photos copyright to Eventful Woman, 2011)
The first modern bridge to be built across the Mosel River was between the towns of Traben and Trarbach in 1904. Had I had crossed it back then it would have cost a couple of pfennige for me, the same for my horse, and the same again if I had a flock of 10 ducks or sheep.

A pfennig (or pfennige for the plural) is an old German coin, which was in use from the 9th century right up until the introduction of the Euro in 2002. Older Germans sometime refer to the new one cent piece as a pfennig.

Cobbled street with wine press in Trarbach
If I was Catholic, I could get a discount on Fridays and Sundays, providing I was making the journey to attend church. I counted 8 churches in total (they were either Evangelic or Catholic) and I wondered why anyone would need to get to the other side to go to church. I suppose it's a bit like the perennial question on why the chicken crossed the road.  The most logical answer: because it could!!

These days the crossing is free and I wasn't charged anything for TH either. Neither of us had ducks, horses or sheep and it wasn't a Friday or Sunday. However, it is not the same bridge. The original was blown up in 1945 in the dying days of World War 2.

Carved doorway
Traben was first mentioned in the record books in the year 820 and Trarbach around 300 years later. However, people (Celts, Romans, Saxons, etc) lived there long long before that date. Both towns have their historical charms although we spent more time in Trarbach, which is on the right hand side of the Mosel going downstream towards Koblenz.

We wandered the cobbled streets, which were remarkably free of tourists. It's the details that impress as much as the larger buildings - carved doorways, ivy growing on walls, the ornate shop signs, half-timbered houses with slate roofs and window gables, and the grape vines that trailed above us.

Carillion on the old tower
In Trarbach, it's worth a climb up one of the last remaining towers from the old city wall, originally built around 1350 but restored in the last few years. In 2004 a new Carillion was installed on this tower to commemorate the anniversary of Traben-Trarbach joining as one city in 1904 (when the bridge was built). Yes, I know I don't like "walk", "up" and 'hill" but these were steps and I liked peering over the edge of the staircase, which made my head whirl. It was very entertaining in a tipsy sort of way.

Looking up the staircase of the tower
Once you've stopped puffing at the top, you can admire the view over the town, the Mosel, the steep-sided vineyards and up to jagged remains of Grevenburg Castle (also built around 1350 and destroyed by Louis XIV (the "Sun King") in 1734. 

The MittelMosel Museum (the Middle Mosel Museum), which is housed in a baroque villa on the corner of Enkircherstrasse and Moselstrasse in Trarbach has a comprehensive history of the twin towns.

Linger awhile and make sure you also stop for fabulous German cake (kuchen) at the many delectable shops.

Getting to Traben-Trarbach:
  • By river boat or bus from most of the towns on the Mosel, including Zell an der Mosel.
  • By rail, check out for ticket specials (when travelling in the Mosel Valley) after 9am, Monday to Friday, and any time over the weekend.
  • By car along the Mosel River road. There's free parking under the bridge.
  •  By cycle, along the cycle way (radweg) beside the Mosel River. Under the bridge there's nifty little lock-up bike garages (like large dog kennels) for your bike and/or back pack.

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