For our final full day in the region we elected to go over to the even bigger water thoroughfare of Germany, the might Rhine River, and in particular to the ruins of Rhienfels Castle, which was the largest castle (of at least 20 or so) that commanded the river to demand taxes on all goods that passed through.
I am really glad that we finished our castle tours with this one, as it was really, for me, the most compelling castle we visited. Others have been authentic, for sure, but difficult to approach as everything is guarded by ropes and barriers, and while as fantastic the rebuilds of the 19th century are they just don’t, for me, feel as complete in a way as even a ruin of a proper working castle.
Rheinsfels castle is such a place. It saw many battles since it was orignially constructed in 1245, generally withstood them, evolved over time to account for the advent of cannons, and was finally destroyed by the French revolutionary army in 1797. Today, though, much still remains to walk through, climb over, and even crawl under. There are small mining tunnels that were dug out from inside the walls to under the flat land in front of the walls, and subsequently packed with explosives. These could be blown up to take out advancing troops, and indeed some of them were used to this effect. Other tunnels remain (sans explosives), and the boys and I were able to crawl through them. These are pitch dark, and can only be negotiated with light (we had candles). Notwithstanding the fact that they are small (Michael could stand throughout, Daniel had to stoop, I had to deeply crouch) they are quite fun to try to negotiate. We went through twice.
The day finished, as usual, with ice cream. Pictures can be found here.
PS-Day 55 was a rainy travel day ending with us just hanging-out and catching-up on email, facebook, photos and blog.