We weren't scheduled to arrive at our first stop of the day until the afternoon so in the morning Balázs presented a lecture on European Architecture. We would be seeing most of these styles during our travels and he made a point of using actual examples of places we would visit. An overview of what he covered with some examples that either are or could have been in this journal:
The lecture prepared us for much of what we saw. It was interesting that in recent centuries the styles changed much more dramatically.
That morning I also finally had a chance to get some pictures of one of the locks.
At this point of our trip the locks were still raising us to higher levels. Once we crossed the European continental divide, we would be descending toward the Danube. The water is vigorously flowing into the lock to raise us to the higher river level.
Virtually all of the locks we passed had associated hydro plants.
The piers show that the dam can be raised or lowered as conditions indicate. At this location there is significant spill over the dam in addition to the flow through the power plant.
We are now at the higher level and the lock gates are opening. Note that the red light is still on.
Moving through the lock. The mechanism to raise and lower the dam can be clearly seen.
The dam and power plant as seen from above.
As noted earlier, we had to pass MANY locks on our journey. Usually we didn't have to wait, but once we were delayed about three hours. We were admonished not to miss our scheduled departure times after shore excursions because the ship had "appointments" to keep at the locks. If we were to be late, we'd lose our place in line with repercussions all down the road, er, river.
I had the impression that the ship would leave a belated traveler without a qualm. Balázs warned us at the beginning of the trip that "on time" meant 15 minutes early.
As we proceed toward Miltenberg, we pass vineyards that are configured a bit differently. The vineyards that we've seen so far have been planted in vertical rows down the hillsides for better cold air "drainage." These vineyards are panted across the hillside.
The area is well-known for its red wine. Wait! Red wines in Germany? Indeed! We had lots of good pinot noir wines from the region.
I've always got an eye out for birds. Cormorants such as these were struggling in Europe just a few decades ago, but are making a comeback.
We have arrived at Miltenberg. The handsome bridge, which looks antique, is really quite new. It was initially constructed in 1900 and rebuilt in 1950 after being destroyed in WWII -- by the German army.
The building in the center of the picture on a low ridge is the castle.
The riverside promenade was completed only a year or so ago. The low wall to the left is a flood wall with a high-tech extension that can be raised to the desired height as needed. Floods are a constant threat on this river.
Our ship dropped us off here and left to make its way to our pickup point in Wertheim.
A close-up of the faux-medieval bridge head.
The red sandstone used in the bridge is a Miltenberg specialty and has been sought-after since at least the Middle Ages.
The truly medieval 13th century western gate tower.
This was our first introduction to St. John of Nepomuk. He was martyred by the King of Bohemia, who threw him into the Vltava (Moldau) River at Prague. He is thereby considered a protector against floods and drowning. Statues of him are also found on or near bridges.
Since all of our trip was along rivers, and since those rivers are subject to flooding, we met up with him frequently.
There is also a later tradition that he was killed by the King of Bohemia for refusing to violate the confessional, but the contemporary accounts state that the reason for his death was his supporting the Archbishop rather than the King in the choice of an abbot for a rich local abbey.
This building is dated 1581. Our guide said that the "X" shape design of the half-timbering on the upper story was intended to represent the cross of St. Andrew who, according to tradition, was martyred on an X-shaped cross or saltire. The diamond shapes on the lower story indicated the wealth of the builder.
The three figures between the two stories also had some kind of tradition associated with them, but I forget what it was.
The real interesting thing, however, is the ground floor, which is constructed of sandstone. Since the town was subject to frequent flooding, the original lower stories of the buildings sustained damage and could fail causing the building to collapse damaging both it and neighboring structures not to mention endangering life. Therefore the town leaders required that the lower stories all be made of the local sandstone, which had the additional property that it dried relatively quickly after a flood. Buildings that predated the rule had to be retrofitted.
This hotel claims to be the oldest hotel in Germany.
An inscription states (more-or-less) that it was built by the hand of Jacob Storz in 1590 and that it welcomes princes, townsmen and farmers alike.
The six-pointed brewer's star beneath the sign identifies the tavern as having beer on tap.
The hotel as seen from the main square. Note the sandstone ground floor.
This is a lovely door, but that's not the reason I've included it. On the left-most door jamb are some chalked numbers: 20*C+M+B+16. We saw marks like this many times during our trip.
The tradition is for children to visit houses on Epiphany seeking gifts. They then mark the door with the year, 2016 in this instance, and the letters C, M & B. The letters were explained to us as standing for the traditional names of the three Magi: Caspar, Melchior & Balthazar. They may also stand for Christus Mansionem Benedicat or "May Christ bless this house."
The town hall is flying the German flag in the center. The red & white flag symbolizes Franconia and the blue & white flag symbolizes Bavaria.
On the lower right corner of the building is a flood gauge.
The old inscription gives the flood height in 1682.
The modern gauge describes the new flood wall system. The wavy yellow line about 1/3 the way up is the "100 year flood" level. The pink line shows the protection level provided by the new flood wall: well above the 100 year flood, but below at least two of the historic floods, the one in 1682 and one in 1845 as indicated by the yellow line.
Art Nouveau (France), Jugendstil (Germany) and Secession (Austria) all describe an art & architectural movement of the late 19th/early 20th centuries. This wonderful doorway is clearly nouveau, but didn't really clash with its older neighbors.
The town was still getting "dressed" for Christmas. I expect there would be a Christmas market materializing shortly.
The Market Square and fountain date from the 16th century and earlier.
At this point we were allowed about 45 minutes free time to shop or explore. I opted to walk up to the castle.
I enjoyed the brisk hike up the hill. The castle wasn't open, but the view was great and the exercise felt wonderful. The road was definitely steep and the cobbles were rough.
The castle originally dates from the 12th century and attained its current form in the 16th.
View of the Main River facing downstream. The river makes a sharp bend here.
The towers belong to the St. James (Jakobus) parish church, which stands on the Market Square. The first church in this location dates from the 13th century, but it reached its current configuration in the 19th.
These houses indicate just how steep the hill is going up to the castle.
As I was walking down the steep street I noticed that one of the half-timbered houses had incised Roman numerals in the timbers. I asked our guide and he said that when the town was being expanded, the city supplied a certain amount of framing wood for free. The wood was brought to the Market Square and the frames were hewn and assembled there. Once the framing was completed, the beams were numbered so that the frame could be reassembled correctly in its ultimate location.
After our Miltenberg tour we loaded onto buses to travel to Amorbach. We had the luxury of having our three own Crystal Cruises buses travel along with the ship from Amsterdam to Budapest! They were much more spacious and comfortable than the standard tourist bus and having the logo prominently featured made them easy to find when returning from free time in town.
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