Monday, 27 August 2012

A medieval castle

Imagine this. A steep mountain that’s practically vertical. Vineyards all around you. You’re driving up as if trying to reach the top of the world. Everything you left behind seems so small, so distant, so irrelevant. The roads are narrow, with lots of twists and turns. It’s so easy to fall and be forgotten by everyone else. You can’t tell if you’re more excited of what might await you up there or scared of losing concentration and falling down. You keep driving. The sun is shining right into your eyes, which makes the struggle even more difficult. Finally you reach the top. And there’s nothing there. You’re alone in the middle of nowhere. All you have is your goal that you managed to achieve. Your little success.

That’s roughly what I felt on the drive up from the Moselle Valley to our next destination. I mean we probably didn’t leave the valley then, but we definitely drove to its different part. We reached a sort of a car park. A sort of. Just a bit of grass-like plants, rocks and sand with a P sign at the drive in. Spooky. We left our car there (being warned that robbery is a common thing there), read the information on the sign and started our trek. 30% slope, not for people with walking problems. What about kids? We were going to give it a shot. The path was mostly in a forest, that means in shaded places. Good for us. We had to go. Luckily for us, as for that moment, the path was mainly going down.

Suddenly, almost right at the beginning, where we totally didn’t expect it, we could sneak a peak at our destination. Burg Eltz.
It was still a long way to go, but we knew even harder that we wanted to get there. To that castle in the middle of nowhere, perfectly defended by nature (rocks, forests, river), not visible from a distance, with only one entrance leading to it through a high bridge.

The medieval Castle Eltz still remains a private property. It was built by three branches of the same family (common thing back then) and is still owned by a branch that lived there 33 generations ago! It has never been destroyed. On three sides it is surrounded by Elzbach River, a tributary on the north side of the Moselle and is situated on a high rock (ca. 70 metres high). Hard to attack, isn’t it?

Wow, what a place!

We walked for 1.8 km to get there. And the same distance back (that means up). I don’t regret that at all. But there are easier ways to get there. A shorter route. Or a shuttle bus. Neither from the place where we parked, though. 
These are the stairs in the castle. Looked a bit like a flowing river. It was hard to distinguish between individual steps.

And these last two pictures show things we were passing by when leaving the Moselle Valley (both taken from a moving car through the car windows). The first picture shows the vineyards on the slops of the valley, of course. And the second one shows a drive-through building, which I thought was kinda nice and funny.

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