Rhine River Cruise - March-April 2017

MS  - River Voyager


23-26 March 2017 Basel
27 March 2017 Strasbourg / Kehl (Voyager is docked in Kehl)
28 March 2017 Heidelberg / Speyer, Germany 
29 March 2017 Mainz / Upper Middle Rhine Valley Scenic Cruising
30 March 2017 Koblenz
31 March 2017 Köln (Cologne)
1 April 2017 Amsterdam
2 April 2017 Amsterdam

We were joined on this cruise by my brother Richard and his wife Soraya. 

We flew from Atlanta to Paris with a connecting flight to Basel. Rooms were unavailable around Basel due to some kind if jewelry show. We ended up staying in Kappel at the Landgasthof Kreuz about 110 km. south of Basel.

We rented a car from Enterprise, a Ford Kuga with automatic transmission and a built-in GPS. 

We drove from Basel to Kappel in the dark and had no problems thanks to the GPS. 

Much of the background information included here has been garnered from various internet sources, mostly Wikipedia.



The municipality is located in the Olten district, in the Dünnern valley, northwest of Mt. Born. It consists of the village of Kappel. Kappel has a population of 3,087, mostly German speaking.

We stayed at the Landgasthof und Hotel Kreuz  The original part of the building dates to 1651. The rooms were plenty spacious (much larger than typical European hotels). There was  free wi-fi that functioned fine. The hotel has a restaurant that serves lunch and dinner. Breakfasts are served in an area off reception. The room included breakfast, American style - scrambled eggs, bacon, many rolls and even cereal if you eat that stuff. We had dinners in the hotel restaurant which were fine though the selection was fairly limited. The staff was very friendly and attentive. There was plenty of free parking. Overall, a great place to stay.

The first day we drove down to Interlaken where we walked around town. Later we boarded a train to Jungfrau. The first train Berner Oberland- Bahn went from Interlaken West to Grindelwald. From there we caught another train to Kleine Scheidegg. 6700 ft. elevation on Jungfrau. At Interlaken we were told to board the train on Track 1. We did. After a rather short ride, we stopped. People got off the train. We thought it was a long stop until the engineer came by and asked where we thought we were going. I told him and he said that this train was at the end of its.e line! He directed us back to Interlaken Ost station where we caught the right train.

Street scenes in Interlaken

The ride was very picturesque stopping at several small villages. The homes were few and were what we would envision a Swiss chalet to be. At Grindelwald, we walked around the town and finally stopped at a restaurant when Marilyn had a hot chocolate and I had a beer. 

When we boarded the next train we saw many, many folks on ski clothes with skis. As we proceeded up the mountain, we were impressed by the snow depth. At Kleine Scheidegg, we disembarked and had lunch and a beer at the local restaurant/hotel Bellevue des Alpes. The village was packed with skiers. Some ski all the way down the mountain on a special run. After lunch we boarded the train for the return trips to Interlaken. 

The second day, Richard and Soraya joined us and we first drove to Lucerne for the day. When we arrived the city was packed with people and cars as there was some festival in progress. Being unable to find a parking spot, we got back on the road and went to Solothurn another ancient city. There we were fortunate to find a parking garage right at the entrance to the old city. The car we had was rather large and it was difficult to maneuver the windy entrance lane but we made it without scraping anything. Then we walked into the old town. My brother was complaining that he was hungry (always seems to be the case). We stopped for an early dinner at an Italian restaurant Piano Bar Freihofkeller and then continued our exploration of the old city.

Soraya at Baseltor, the entrance to Old Town, built in 1504 by Hans Gibelin

Cathedral of St. Ursus

Solothurn Clock Tower built in the 12th century

Richard and Soraya returned to their hotel in Bergsheim France. Sunday morning we drove to Basel where we met at the cruise ship terminal Dreilandereg. We had the ladies check in with the luggage and Rich and I drove our rental cars to the airport to turn in them in. We then took a taxi back to the terminal and joined our ladies on the ship.



We returned to Basel on Sunday in order to pick up the ship and begin  the cruise part of this vacation. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany. The official language of Basel is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect. Basel has been the seat of a Prince-Bishopric since the 11th century, and joined the Swiss Confederacy in 1501. The city has been a commercial hub and important cultural center since the Renaissance, and has emerged as a centre for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry in the 20th century. It hosts the oldest university of the Swiss Confederation (1460).

There are settlement traces on the Rhine knee from the early La Tène period (5th century BC). In the 2nd century BC, there was a village of the Raurici at the site of Basel-Gasfabrik, to the northwest of the Old City The unfortified settlement was abandoned in the 1st century BC in favor of an Oppidum on the site of Basel Minster, probably in reaction to the Roman invasion of Gaul. In Roman Gaul, Augusta Raurica was established some 20 km from Basel as the regional administrative center, and a castle was built on the site of the oppidum. The city of Basel eventually grew around the castle. The name of Basel is derived from the Roman-era toponym Basilia, first recorded in the 3rd century. It is presumably derived from the personal name Basilius. The Old French form Basle was adopted into English, and developed into the modern French Bâle. Basel was incorporated into Germania Superior in AD 83. Roman control over the area deteriorated in 3rd century, and Basel became an outpost of the Provincia Maxima Sequanorum formed by Diocletian. The Alamanni attempted to cross the Rhine several times in the 4th century, but were repelled. In a great invasion of AD 406, the Alemanni appear to have crossed the Rhine river a final time, conquering and then settling what is today Alsace and a large part of the Swiss Plateau. From this time, Basel has been an Alemannic settlement. The Duchy of Alemannia fell under Frankish rule in the 6th century, and by the 7th century, the former bishopric of Augusta Raurica was re-established as the Bishopric of Basel.  Under bishop Haito, the first cathedral was built on the site of the Roman castle, later replaced by a Romanesque structure consecrated in 1019. At the partition of the Carolingian Empire, Basel was first given to West Francia, but passed to East Francia with the treaty of Meerssen of 870. The city was plundered and destroyed by a Magyar invasion of 917. The rebuilt city became part of Upper Burgundy, and as such was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire in 1032. Prince-Bishopric of Basel. Since the donation by Rudolph III of Burgundy of the Moutier-Grandval Abbey and all its possessions to Bishop Adalbero II in 999 till the Reformation, Basel was ruled by prince-bishopswhose memory is preserved in the crosier shown on the Basel coat-of-arms. In 1019, the construction of the cathedral of Basel (known locally as the Münster) began under German Emperor Heinrich II.[11] In 1225–1226, the Bridge over the Rhine was constructed by Bishop Heinrich von Thun and lesser Basel (Kleinbasel) founded as a bridgehead to protect the bridge. The bridge was largely funded by Basel's Jewish community which had settled there a century earlier. For many centuries to come Basel possessed the only permanent bridge over the river "between Lake Constance and the sea".  Basel became the focal point of western Christendom during the 15th century Council of Basel (1431–1449), including the 1439 election of antipope Felix V. In 1459, Pope Pius II endowed the University of Basel where such notables as Erasmus of Rotterdam and Paracelsus later taught. At the same time the new craft of printing was introduced to Basel by apprentices of Johann Gutenberg. The Schwabe publishing house was founded in 1488 by Johannes Petri and is the oldest publishing house still in business. In 1495, Basel was incorporated in the Upper Rhenish Imperial Circle; the Bishop of Basel was added to the Bench of the Ecclesiastical Princes. In 1500 the construction of the Basel Münster was finished. In 1521 so was the bishop. The Council, under the supremacy of the guilds, explained that henceforth they would only give allegiance to the Swiss Confederation as a member state in the Swiss Confederacy.

The city had remained neutral through the Swabian War of 1499 despite being plundered by soldiers on both sides. The Treaty of Basel ended the war and granted the Swiss confederates exemptions from the emperor Maximillian's taxes and jurisdictions, separating Switzerland de facto from the Holy Roman Empire. On 9 June 1501, Basel joined the Swiss Confederation as its eleventh canton. It was the only canton that had been asked to join, not the other way round. Basel had a strategic location, good relations with Strasbourg and Mulhouse, and control of the corn imports from Alsace, whereas the Swiss lands were becoming overpopulated and had few resources. A provision of the Charter accepting Basel required that in conflicts among the other cantons it was to stay neutral and offer its services for mediation. In 1503, the new bishop Christoph von Utenheim refused to give Basel a new constitution whereupon, to show its power, the city began the construction of a new city hall. In 1529, the city became Protestant under Oecolampadius and the bishop's seat was moved to Porrentruy. The bishop's crook was however retained as the city's coat of arms. For the centuries to come, a handful of wealthy families collectively referred to as the "Daig" played a pivotal role in city affairs as they gradually established themselves as a de facto city aristocracy. The first edition of Christianae religionis institutio (Institutes of the Christian Religion – John Calvin's great exposition of Calvinist doctrine) was published at Basel in March 1536. In 1544, Johann von Brugge, a rich Dutch Protestant refugee, was given citizenship and lived respectfully until his death in 1556 then buried with honors. His body was exhumed and burnt at the stake in 1559 after it was discovered that he was the Anabaptist David Joris. In 1543, De humani corporis fabrica, the first book on human anatomy, was published and printed in Basel by Andreas Vesalius (1514–1564). In 1792, the Republic of Rauracia, a revolutionary French client republic, was created. It lasted until 1793. After three years of political agitation and a short civil war in 1833 the disadvantaged countryside seceded from the Canton of Basel, forming the half canton of Basel-Landschaft.

The ship check-in was quick and the crew carried our bags aboard. There were about 150 passengers with a crew of 46. We had cabin 216 and Rich had 414. His was much roomier than ours and they had a "French balcony" (sliding glass doors to the outside but not any space outside. The ship is new, going into service in March 2016. Its theme is New Orleans with many reminders of the black jazz culture there. It is 442 feet long, 38 feet wide and has a draft of 4.8 feet and is powered by two diesel engines. Breakfast is a buffet with mostr anything your palate would want including a hand whose sole morning job is making to-order omelets (ham, cheese, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and sweet peppers) or frying eggs to your degree of doneness. Lunch is generally buffet style but hamburgers and fries are available. Dinner is served in the main dining hall with open table seating starting at 1900 hours. Each night there is generally a choice of a meat dish, a fish dish, sand a vegetarian dish. There is also available every night a choice of a sirloin steak, salmon, or chicken breast. Free wine and beer is served with dinner (all you can consume during the dinner session). There is also a Cotton Club on the fantail that requires reservations. The one night we tried it a hand grilled corn on the cob, potatoes, and spare ribs on an outside grill.

River Voyager pilot house


We actually moored across the Rhine in Kehl, Germany. The village of Kehl was first mentioned in 1038. In 1338 the first permanent bridge between Kehl and Strasbourg was completed. In 1678 the city was taken over by France, as it was considered to be part of the defense system of Strasbourg. Hence the village was transformed into a fortress in 1683 by the French architect Vauban. In 1681, the Imperial City of Strasbourg, a territory of the Holy Roman Empire that included Kehl, was annexed by Louis XIV, King of France. This annexation was recognised by the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697, but all right-bank territories were restored to the Empire, leading to Kehl's cession to the Margraviate of Baden the following year. On May 7, 1770, Marie Antoinette was officially handed over by Austria to France on an island on the Rhine near Kehl. This island was settled in the years before the First World War and became known as Kommissionsinsel after the commission that took over Marie Antoinette. In 1774, Kehl received town rights by the Charles Frederick, Margrave of Baden. The village was badly damaged during the French Revolutionary Wars, especially during the Rhine Campaign of 1796, during the first and second battles of Kehl, and it was besieged by the Austrians in late 1796 until its surrender on 9 January 1797. During the First French Empire, Kehl was reunited with Strasbourg under the French First Republic, before being restored to Baden (now raised to an Electorate) in 1803. After briefly being subject to Austria, the city was finally returned to Baden (now a Grand Duchy) in 1815 and the fortress was dismantled. Between 1842 and 1847, the first port facility was created by the Baden State Railway Administration. In 1861, the first railway bridge was built and the first direct connection from Paris to Vienna was established, with locomotives being changed over in Kehl. After the First World War, under article 65 of the Treaty of Versailles the harbor of Kehl was placed under French administration for seven years to prevent possible German attacks on the opposite newly French town of Strasbourg. During the Second World War, after the Battle of France, Kehl was turned into a suburb of Strasbourg. After the war, all citizens were expelled from Kehl. This state continued until 1953, when the city was returned to the Federal Republic of Germany and the refugees returned.

The human occupation of the environs of Strasbourg goes back many thousands of years. Neolithic, bronze age and iron age artifacts have been uncovered by archeological excavations. It was permanently settled by proto-Celts around 1300 BC. Towards the end of the third century BC, it developed into a Celtic township with a market called "Argentorate". 

The Romans under Nero Claudius Drusus established a military outpost belonging to the Germania Superior Roman province at Strasbourg's current location, and named it Argentoratum.  The name "Argentoratum" was first mentioned in 12 BC and the city celebrated its 2,000th birthday in 1988. "Argentorate" as the toponym of the Gaulish settlement preceded it before being Latinized, but it is not known by how long. The Roman camp was destroyed by fire and rebuilt six times between the first and the fifth centuries AD: in 70, 97, 235, 355, in the last quarter of the fourth century, and in the early years of the fifth century. It was under Trajan and after the fire of 97 that Argentoratum received its most extended and fortified shape. From the year 90 on, the Legio VIII Augusta was permanently stationed in the Roman camp of Argentoratum. It then included a cavalry section and covered an area of approximately 20 hectares. Other Roman legions temporarily stationed in Argentoratum were the Legio XIV Gemina and the Legio XXI Rapax, the latter during the reign of Nero. The center of Argentoratum proper was situated on the Grande Île . The outline of the Roman "castrum" is visible in the street pattern in the Grande Ile. Many Roman artifacts have also been found along the current Route des Romains, the road that led to Argentoratum, in the suburb of Kœnigshoffen. This was where the largest burial places were situated, as well as the densest concentration of civilian dwelling places and commerces next to the camp. Among the most outstanding finds in Kœnigshoffen were (found in 1911–12) the fragments of a grand Mithraeum that had been shattered by early Christians in the fourth century. From the fourth century, Strasbourg was the seat of the Bishopric of Strasbourg. Archaeological excavations below the current Église Saint-Étienne in 1948 and 1956 unearthed the apse of a church dating back to the late fourth or early fifth century, considered to be the oldest church in Alsace. It is supposed that this was the first seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Strasbourg. The Alemanni fought the Battle of Argentoratum against Rome in 357. They were defeated by Julian, later Emperor of Rome, and their King Chonodomarius was taken prisoner. On 2 January 366, the Alemanni crossed the frozen Rhine in large numbers to invade the Roman Empire. Early in the fifth century, the Alemanni appear to have crossed the Rhine, conquered, and then settled what is today Alsace and a large part of Switzerland

Strasbourg was occupied successively by Alemanni, Huns, and Franks. In the ninth century it was commonly known as Strazburg in the local language, as documented in 842 by the Oaths of Strasbourg. This trilingual text contains, alongside texts in Latin and Old High German (teudisca lingua), the oldest written variety of Gallo-Romance (lingua romana) clearly distinct from Latin, the ancestor of Old French. The town was also called Stratisburgum or Strateburgus in Latin, from which later came Strossburi in Alsatian and Straßburg in Standard German, and then Strasbourg in French. The Oaths of Strasbourg is considered as marking the birth of the two countries of France and Germany with the division of the Carolingian Empire. A major commercial center, the town came under the control of the Holy Roman Empire in 923, through the homage paid by the Duke of Lorraine to German King Henry I. The early history of Strasbourg consists of a long conflict between its bishop and its citizens. The citizens emerged victorious after the Battle of Oberhausbergen in 1262, when King Philip of Swabia granted the city the status of an Imperial Free City. Around 1200, Gottfried von Straßburg wrote the Middle High German courtly romance Tristan, which is regarded, alongside Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival and the Nibelungenlied, as one of great narrative masterpieces of the German Middle Ages. A revolution in 1332 resulted in a broad-based city government with participation of the guilds, and Strasbourg declared itself a free republic. The deadly bubonic plague struck in 1348 Construction on Strasbourg Cathedral began in the twelfth century, and it was completed in 1439 (though, of the towers, only the north tower was built), becoming the World's Tallest Building, surpassing the Great Pyramid of Giza. A few years later, Johannes Gutenberg created the first European moveable type printing press in Strasbourg. In July 1518, an incident known as the Dancing Plague of 1518 struck residents of Strasbourg. Around 400 people were afflicted with dancing mania and danced constantly for weeks, most of them eventually dying from heart attack, stroke or exhaustion. In the 1520s during the Protestant Reformation, the city, under the political guidance of Jacob Sturm von Sturmeck and the spiritual guidance of Martin Bucer embraced the religious teachings of Martin Luther. Their adherents established a Gymnasium, headed by Johannes Sturm, made into a University in the following century. The city first followed the Tetrapolitan Confession, and then the Augsburg Confession. Protestant iconoclasm caused much destruction to churches and cloisters, notwithstanding that Luther himself opposed such a practice. Strasbourg was a center of humanist scholarship and early book-printing in the Holy Roman Empire, and its intellectual and political influence contributed much to the establishment of Protestantism as an accepted denomination in the southwest of Germany. (John Calvin spent several years as a political refugee in the city). The Strasbourg Councillor Sturm and guildmaster Matthias represented the city at the Imperial Diet of Speyer (1529), where their protest led to the schism of the Catholic Church and the evolution of Protestantism. Together with four other free cities, Strasbourg presented the confessio tetrapolitana as its Protestant book of faith at the Imperial Diet of Augsburg in 1530, where the slightly different Augsburg Confession was also handed over to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. After the reform of the Imperial constitution in the early sixteenth century and the establishment of Imperial Circles, Strasbourg was part of the Upper Rhenish Circle, a corporation of Imperial estates in the southwest of Holy Roman Empire, mainly responsible for maintaining troops, supervising coining, and ensuring public security. After the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg around 1440, the first printing offices outside the inventor's hometown Mainz were established around 1460 in Strasbourg by pioneers Johannes Mentelin and Heinrich Eggestein. Subsequently, the first modern newspaper was published in Strasbourg in 1605, when Johann Carolus received the permission by the City of Strasbourg to print and distribute a weekly journal written in German by reporters from several central European cities.

The Free City of Strasbourg remained neutral during the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), and retained its status as a Free Imperial City. However, the city was later annexed by Louis XIV of France to extend the borders of his kingdom. Louis' advisors believed that, as long as Strasbourg remained independent, it would endanger the King's newly annexed territories in Alsace, and, that to defend these large rural lands effectively, a garrison had to be placed in towns such as Strasbourg. Indeed, the bridge over the Rhine at Strasbourg had been used repeatedly by Imperial (Holy Roman Empire) forces, and three times during the Franco-Dutch War Strasbourg had served as a gateway for Imperial invasions into Alsace. In September 1681 Louis' forces, though lacking a clear casus belli, surrounded the city with overwhelming force. After some negotiation, Louis marched into the city unopposed on 30 September 1681 and proclaimed its annexation. This annexation was one of the direct causes of the brief and bloody War of the Reunions whose outcome left the French in possession. The French annexation was recognized by the Treaty of Ryswick (1697). The official policy of religious intolerance which drove most Protestants from France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 was not applied in Strasbourg and in Alsace, because both had a special status as a province à l'instar de l'étranger effectif (a kind of foreign province of the king of France). Strasbourg Cathedral, however, was taken from the Lutherans to be returned to the Catholics as the French authorities tried to promote Catholicism wherever they could (some other historic churches remained in Protestant hands). Its language also remained overwhelmingly German: the German Lutheran university persisted until the French Revolution. Famous students included Goethe and Herder. The world's first school for midwives was opened in Strasbourg in 1728.

The Duke of Lorraine and Imperial troops crossing the Rhine at Strasbourg during the War of the Austrian Succession, 1744 During a dinner in Strasbourg organized by Mayor Frédéric de Dietrich on 25 April 1792, Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle composed "La Marseillaise". The same year François Christophe Kellermann, a child of Strasbourg was appointed the head of the Mosel Army. He led his company to victory at the battle of Valmy and saved the young French republic. He was later appointed Duke of Valmy by Napoléon in 1808. During this period Jean-Baptiste Kléber, also born in Strasbourg, led the French army to win several decisive victories. A statue of Kléber now stands in the center of the city, at Place Kléber, and he is still one of the most famous French officers. Strasbourg's status as a free city was revoked by the French Revolution. Enragés, most notoriously Eulogius Schneider, ruled the city with an increasingly iron hand. During this time, many churches and monasteries were either destroyed or severely damaged. The cathedral lost hundreds of its statues (later replaced by copies in the 19th century) and in April 1794, there was talk of tearing its spire down, on the grounds that it was against the principle of equality. The tower was saved, however, when in May of the same year citizens of Strasbourg crowned it with a giant tin Phrygian cap. This artifact was later kept in the historical collections of the city until it was destroyed in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian war. In 1805, 1806 and 1809, Napoléon Bonaparte and his first wife, Joséphine stayed in Strasbourg. In 1810, his second wife Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma spent her first night on French soil in the palace. Another royal guest was King Charles X of France in 1828. In 1836, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte unsuccessfully tried to lead his first Bonapartist coup in Strasbourg.

With the growth of industry and commerce, the city's population tripled in the 19th century to 150,000. During the Franco-Prussian War and the Siege of Strasbourg, the city was heavily bombarded by the Prussian army. The bombardment of the city was meant to break the morale of the people of Strasbourg. On 24 and 26 August 1870, the Museum of Fine Arts was destroyed by fire, as was the Municipal Library housed in the Gothic former Dominican church, with its unique collection of medieval manuscripts (most famously the Hortus deliciarum), rare Renaissance books, archeological finds and historical artifacts. The gothic cathedral was damaged as well as the medieval church of Temple Neuf, the theater, the city hall, the court of justice and many houses. At the end of the siege 10,000 inhabitants were left without shelter; over 600 died, including 261 civilians, and 3200 were injured, including 1,100 civilians. In 1871, after the end of the war, the city was transferred to the newly established German Empire as part of the Reichsland Elsass-Lothringen under the terms of the Treaty of Frankfurt. As part of Imperial Germany, Strasbourg was rebuilt and developed on a grand and representative scale, such as the Neue Stadt, or "new city" around the present Place de la République. Historian Rodolphe Reuss and Art historian Wilhelm von Bode were in charge of rebuilding the municipal archives, libraries and museums. The University, founded in 1567 and suppressed during the French Revolution as a stronghold of German sentiment, was reopened in 1872 under the name Kaiser-Wilhelms-Universität.

A belt of massive fortifications was established around the city, most of which still stands today, renamed after French generals and generally classified as Monuments historiques; most notably Fort Roon (now Fort Desaix) and Fort Podbielski (now Fort Ducrot) in Mundolsheim, Fort von Moltke (now Fort Rapp) in Reichstett, Fort Bismarck (now Fort Kléber) in Wolfisheim, Fort Kronprinz (now Fort Foch) in Niederhausbergen, Fort Kronprinz von Sachsen (now Fort Joffre) in Holtzheim and Fort Großherzog von Baden (now Fort Frère) in Oberhausbergen.[32] Those forts subsequently served the French army (Fort Podbielski/Ducrot for instance was integrated into the Maginot Line), and were used as POW-camps in 1918 and 1945. Two garrison churches were also erected for the members of the Imperial German army, the Lutheran Église Saint-Paul and the Roman Catholic Église Saint-Maurice. Following the defeat of the German empire in World War I and the abdication of the German Emperor, some revolutionary insurgents declared Alsace-Lorraine as an independent Republic, without preliminary referendum or vote. On 11 November 1918 (Armistice Day), communist insurgents proclaimed a "soviet government" in Strasbourg, following the example of Kurt Eisner in Munich as well as other German towns. French troops commanded by French general Henri Gouraud entered triumphantly in the city on 22 November. A major street of the city now bears the name of that date (Rue du 22 Novembre) which celebrates the entry of the French in the city. Viewing the massive cheering crowd gathered under the balcony of Strasbourg's town hall, French President Raymond Poincaré stated that "the plebiscite is done" In 1919, following the Treaty of Versailles, the city was annexed by France in accordance with U.S. President Woodrow Wilson's "Fourteen Points" without a referendum. The date of the assignment was retroactively established on Armistice Day. It is doubtful whether a referendum in Strasbourg would have ended in France's favor since the political parties striving for an autonomous Alsace or a connection to France accounted only for a small proportion of votes in the last Reichstag as well as in the local elections. The Alsatian autonomists who were pro French had won many votes in the more rural parts of the region and other towns since the annexation of the region by Germany in 1871. The movement started with the first election for the Reichstag; those elected were called "les députés protestataires", and until the fall of Bismarck in 1890, they were the only deputies elected by the Alsatians to the German parliament demanding the return of those territories to France. At the last Reichstag election in Strasbourg and its periphery, the clear winners were the Social Democrats; the city was the administrative capital of the region, was inhabited by many Germans appointed by the central government in Berlin and its flourishing economy attracted many Germans. This could explain the difference between the rural vote and the one in Strasbourg. After the war, many Germans left Strasbourg and went back to Germany; some of them were denounced by the locals or expelled by the newly appointed authorities. The Saverne Affair was vivid in the memory among the Alsatians. In 1920, Strasbourg became the seat of the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine, previously located in Mannheim, one of the oldest European institutions. It moved into the former Imperial Palace. When the Maginot Line was built, the Sous-secteur fortifié de Strasbourg (fortified sub-sector of Strasbourg) was laid out on the city's territory as a part of the Secteur fortifié du Bas-Rhin, one of the sections of the Line. Blockhouses and casemates were built along the Grand Canal d'Alsace and the Rhine in the Robertsau forest and the port. Between the German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 and the Anglo-French declaration of War against the German Reich on 3 September 1939, the entire city (a total of 120,000 people) was evacuated, like other border towns as well. Until the arrival of the Wehrmacht troops mid-June 1940, the city was, for ten months, completely empty, with the exception of the garrisoned soldiers.  After the ceasefire following the Fall of France in June 1940, Alsace was annexed by Germany and a rigorous policy of Germanisation was imposed upon it by the Gauleiter Robert Heinrich Wagner. When, in July 1940, the first evacuees were allowed to return, only residents of Alsatian origin were admitted. 

The commemorative tablet affixed on the façade of the episcopal middle school Saint-Étienne in Strasbourg in memory of the young martyr Marcel Weinum beheaded by the Germans. In September 1940 the first Alsatian resistance movement led by Marcel Weinum called La main noire (The black hand) was created. It was composed by a group of 25 young men aged from 14 to 18 years old who led several attacks against the German occupation. The actions culminated with the attack on the Gauleiter Robert Wagner, the highest commander of Alsace directly under the order of Hitler. In March 1942, Marcel Weinum was prosecuted by the Gestapo and sentenced to be beheaded at the age of 18 in April 1942 in Stuttgart, Germany. His last words will be: "If I have to die, I shall die but with a pure heart". From 1943 the city was bombarded by Allied aircraft. While the First World War had not notably damaged the city, Anglo-American bombing caused extensive destruction in raids of which at least one was allegedly carried out by mistake. In August 1944, several buildings in the Old Town were damaged by bombs, particularly the Palais Rohan, the Old Customs House (Ancienne Douane) and the Cathedral. On 23 November 1944, the city was officially liberated by the 2nd French Armored Division under General Leclerc. He achieved the oath that he made with his soldiers, after the decisive Capture of Kufra. With the Oath of Kuffra, they swore to keep up the fight until the French flag flew over the Cathedral of Strasbourg. Many people from Strasbourg were incorporated in the German Army against their will, and were sent to the eastern front, those young men and women were called Malgré-nous. Many tried to escape from the incorporation, join the French Resistance, or desert the Wehrmacht but many couldn't because they were running the risk of having their families sent to work or concentration camps by the Germans. Many of these men, especially those who did not answer the call immediately, were pressured to "volunteer" for service with the SS, often by direct threats on their families. This threat obliged the majority of them to remain in the German army. After the war, the few that survived were often accused of being traitors or collaborationists, because this tough situation was not known in the rest of France, and they had to face the incomprehension of many. In July 1944, 1500 malgré-nous were released from Soviet captivity and sent to Algiers, where they joined the Free French Forces. Nowadays history recognizes the suffering of those people, and museums, public discussions and memorials have been built to commemorate this terrible period of history of this part of Eastern France (Alsace and Moselle). Liberation of Strasbourg took place on 23 November 1944. In 1947, a fire broke out in the Musée des Beaux-Arts and devastated a significant part of the collections. This fire was an indirect consequence of the bombing raids of 1944: because of the destruction inflicted on the Palais Rohan, humidity had infiltrated the building, and moisture had to be fought. This was done with welding torches, and a bad handling of these caused the fire. In the 1950s and 1960s the city was enlarged by new residential areas meant to solve both the problem of housing shortage due to war damage and that of the strong growth of population due to the baby boom and immigration from North Africa: Cité Rotterdam in the North-East, Quartier de l'Esplanade in the South-East, Hautepierre in the North-West. Between 1995 and 2010, a new district has been built in the same vein, the Quartier des Poteries, south of Hautepierre. In 1958, a violent hailstorm destroyed most of the historical greenhouses of the Botanical Garden and many of the stained glass windows of St. Paul's Church. In 1949, the city was chosen to be the seat of the Council of Europe with its European Court of Human Rights and European Pharmacopoeia. Since 1952, the European Parliament has met in Strasbourg, which was formally designated its official 'seat' at the Edinburgh meeting of the European Council of EU heads of state and government in December 1992. (This position was reconfirmed and given treaty status in the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam). However, only the (four-day) plenary sessions of the Parliament are held in Strasbourg each month, with all other business being conducted in Brussels and Luxembourg. Those sessions take place in the Immeuble Louise Weiss, inaugurated in 1999, which houses the largest parliamentary assembly room in Europe and of any democratic institution in the world. Before that, the EP sessions had to take place in the main Council of Europe building, the Palace of Europe, whose unusual inner architecture had become a familiar sight to European TV audiences. In 2000, a terrorist plot to blow up the cathedral was prevented thanks to the cooperation between French and German police that led to the arrest in late 2000 of a Frankfurt-based group of terrorists.

We traveled by bus from Kehl to Strasbourg. There we walked quite a ways to board a canal boat for a tour of the city by boat. On the way, we stopped at the cathedral, Strasbourg Minster. The boat took us through much of the city.


After the boat tour we walked back to the cathedral then we headed to a restaurant for can Alsatian lunch. The meal consisted of Tarte Flambée, a concoction like a pizza. The dish was prepared at the table. They spread a dough to make a pizza like crust. Then they cover it in cream cheese, caramalized onions, and bacon and cook it for three minutes. Being that I don't like onions or creamed cheese, I passed on it. Had good bread with a local beer. Then we walked around town and was able to sample variouslocal goodies incliding a beer.



Speyer is a town in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, with approximately 50,000 inhabitants. Located beside the river Rhine, Speyer is 25 km (16 miles) south of Ludwigshafen and Mannheim. Founded by the Romans, it is one of Germany's oldest cities. The first known names were Noviomagus and Civitas Nemetum, after the Teutonic tribe, Nemetes, settled in the area. Around AD 500 the name Spira first appeared in written documents and, as well as the French, this is still reflected in the names Spira and Espira used in Italian and Spanish.

Modern Heidelberg can trace its beginnings to the fifth century. The village Bergheim ("Mountain Home") is first mentioned for that period in documents dated to 769 AD. Bergheim now lies in the middle of modern Heidelberg. The people gradually converted to Christianity. In 863 AD, the monastery of St. Michael was founded on the Heiligenberg inside the double rampart of the Celtic fortress. Around 1130, the Neuburg Monastery was founded in the Neckar valley. At the same time, the bishopric of Worms extended its influence into the valley, founding Schönau Abbey in 1142. Modern Heidelberg can trace its roots to this 12th-century monastery. The first reference to Heidelberg can be found in a document in Schönau Abbey dated to 1196. This is considered to be the town's founding date. In 1155, Heidelberg castle and its neighboring settlement were taken over by the house of Hohenstaufen. Conrad of Hohenstaufen became Count Palatine of the Rhine (German: Pfalzgraf bei Rhein). In 1195, the Electorate of the Palatinate passed to the House of Welf through marriage. In 1214, Ludwig I, Duke of Bavaria acquired the Palatinate, as a consequence of which the castle came under his control. By 1303, another castle had been constructed for defense. In 1356, the Counts Palatine were granted far-reaching rights in the Golden Bull, in addition to becoming Electors. In 1386, Heidelberg University was founded by Rupert I, Elector Palatine. Heidelberg University played a leading part in the era of humanism and the Reformation, and the conflict between Lutheranism and Calvinism, in the 15th and 16th centuries. Heidelberg's library, founded in 1421, is the oldest existing public library in Germany. In April 1518, a few months after proclaiming his 95 Theses, Martin Luther was received in Heidelberg, to defend them. In 1537, the castle located higher up the mountain was destroyed by a gunpowder explosion. The duke's palace was built at the site of the lower castle.

Elector Frederick III, sovereign of the Electoral Palatinate from 1559 to 1576, commissioned the composition of a new Catechism for his territory. While the catechism's introduction credits the "entire theological faculty here" (at the University of Heidelberg) and "all the superintendents and prominent servants of the church" for the composition of the catechism, Zacharius Ursinus is commonly regarded as the catechism's principal author. Johann Sylvan, Adam Neuser, Johannes Willing, Thomas Erastus, Michael Diller, Johannes Brunner, Tilemann Mumius, Petrus Macheropoeus, Johannes Eisenmenger, Immanuel Tremellius and Pierre Boquin are all likely to have contributed to the Catechism in some way. Frederick himself wrote the preface to the Catechism and closely oversaw its composition and publication. Frederick, who was officially Lutheran but had strong Reformed leanings, wanted to even out the religious situation of his highly Lutheran territory within the primarily Catholic Holy Roman Empire. The Council of Trent had just concluded with its conclusions and decrees against the Protestant faiths, and the Peace of Augsburg had only granted toleration for Lutheranism within the empire where the ruler was Lutheran. One of the aims of the catechism was to counteract the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church as well as Anabaptists and "strict" Gnesio-Lutherans like Tilemann Heshusius and Matthias Flacius, who were resisting Frederick's Reformed influences, particularly on the matter of Eucharist (the Lord's Supper). The Catechism-based each of its statements on biblical proof-texts, and Frederick himself would defend it as biblical, not reformed, at the 1566 Diet of Augsburg when he was called to answer to charges of violating the Peace of Augsburg. This was the Heidelberg Catechism, officially called the Catechism, or Christian Instruction, according to the Usages of the Churches and Schools of the Electoral Palatinate.

In November 1619, the royal crown of Bohemia was offered to the Elector, Frederick V. (He was married to Elizabeth, eldest daughter of James VI and I of Scotland and England, respectively.) Frederick became known as the "Winter King", as he reigned for only one winter before the Imperial House of Habsburg regained the crown by force. His overthrow in 1621 marked the beginning of the Thirty Years' War. In 1622, after a siege of two months, the armies of the Catholic League, commanded by Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly, captured the town. Tilly gave the famous Bibliotheca Palatina from the Church of the Holy Spirit to the Pope as a present. The Catholic Bavarian branch of the House of Wittelsbach gained control over the Palatinate and the title of Prince-Elector. In 1648, at the end of the war, Frederick V's son Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine, was able to recover his titles and lands. In late 1634 Imperialist forces attempted to take back the city, as the Swedish army had conquered it. They quickly took the city, but were unable to take the castle. As they prepared to blow up its fortifications with gunpowder the French army arrived, 30,000 men strong, led by Urbain de Maillé-Brézé, who had fought in many battles and participated in the Siege of La Rochelle (1627–1628), and Jacques-Nompar de Caumont, duc de La Force. They ended the siege and drove off the Catholic forces.

To strengthen his dynasty, Charles I Louis arranged the marriage of his daughter Liselotte to Philip I, Duke of Orléans, brother of Louis XIV, king of France. In 1685, after the death of Charles Louis' son, Elector Charles II, Louis XIV laid claim to his sister-in-law's inheritance. The Germans rejected the claim, in part because of religious differences between local Protestants and the French Catholics, as the Protestant Reformation had divided the peoples of Europe. The War of the Grand Alliance ensued. In 1689, French troops took the town and castle, bringing nearly total destruction to the area in 1693. As a result of the destruction due to repeated French invasions related to the War of the Palatinate Succession coupled with severe winters, thousands of Protestant German Palatines emigrated from the lower Palatinate in the early 18th century. They fled to other European cities and especially to London (where the refugees were called "the poor Palatines"). In sympathy for the Protestants, in 1709–1710, Queen Anne's government arranged transport for nearly 6,000 Palatines to New York. Others were transported to Pennsylvania, and to South Carolina. They worked their passage and later settled in the English colonies there.

Konrad Linck, 1788 In 1720, after assigning a major church for exclusively Catholic use, religious conflicts with the mostly Protestant inhabitants of Heidelberg caused the Roman Catholic Prince-Elector Charles III Philip to transfer his residence to nearby Mannheim. The court remained there until the Elector Charles Theodore became Elector of Bavaria in 1777 and established his court in Munich. In 1742, Elector Charles Theodore began rebuilding the Palace. In 1764, a lightning bolt destroyed other palace buildings during reconstruction, causing the work to be discontinued. Heidelberg fell to the Grand Duchy of Baden in 1803. Charles Frederick, Grand Duke of Baden, re-founded the university, named "Ruperto-Carola" after its two founders. Notable scholars soon earned it a reputation as a "royal residence of the intellect". In the 18th century, the town was rebuilt in the Baroque style on the old medieval layout. In 1810, the French revolution refugee Count Charles Graimberg began to preserve the palace ruins and establish a historical collection. In 1815, the Emperor of Austria, the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia formed the "Holy Alliance" in Heidelberg. In 1848, the German National Assembly was held there. In 1849, during the Palatinate-Baden rebellion of the 1848 Revolutions, Heidelberg was the headquarters of a revolutionary army. It was defeated by a Prussian army near Waghaeusel. The city was occupied by Prussian troops until 1850. During the Nazi period (1933–1945), Heidelberg was a stronghold of the NSDAP, (the National Socialist German Workers' Party) the strongest party in the elections before 1933 (the NSDAP obtained 30% at the communal elections of 1930). The NSDAP received 45.9% of the votes in the German federal election of March 1933 (the national average was 43.9%). In 1934 and 1935, the Reichsarbeitsdienst (State Labor Service) and Heidelberg University students built the huge Thingstätte amphitheatre on the Heiligenberg north of the town, for Nazi Party and SS events. A few months later, the inauguration of the huge Ehrenfriedhof memorial cemetery completed the second and last NSDAP project in Heidelberg. This cemetery is on the southern side of the old part of town, a little south of the Königstuhl hilltop, and faces west towards France. During World War II and after, Wehrmacht soldiers were buried there.

During the Kristallnacht on November 9, 1938, Nazis burned down synagogues at two locations in the city. The next day, they started the systematic deportation of Jews, sending 150 to Dachau concentration camp. On October 22, 1940, during the "Wagner Buerckel event", the Nazis deported 6000 local Jews, including 281 from Heidelberg, to Camp Gurs concentration camp in France. Within a few months, as many as 1000 of them (201 from Heidelberg) died of hunger and disease. From 1942, the deportees who had survived internment in Gurs were deported to Eastern Europe, where most of them were murdered. On March 29, 1945, German troops left the city after destroying three arches of the old bridge, Heidelberg's treasured river crossing. They also destroyed the more modern bridge downstream. The U.S. Army (63rd Infantry, 7th Army) entered the town on March 30, 1945. The civilian population surrendered without resistance. A popular belief is that Heidelberg escaped bombing in World War II because the U.S. Army wanted to use the city as a garrison after the war. As Heidelberg was neither an industrial center nor a transport hub, it did not present a target of opportunity. Other notable university towns, such as Tübingen and Göttingen, were spared bombing as well. Allied air raids focused extensively on the nearby industrial cities of Mannheim and Ludwigshafen.

We tied up in Speyer then traveled by bus into Heidelberg going first to the Castle. We had quite can extensive tour of the castle.


Soraya, Marilyn, Rich at Heidelberg Castle

View of Heidelberg from the Castle

After the castle tour, we were taken into the city.


Speyer, Germany

Imperial Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption and St Stephen 

Trinity Church



The Roman stronghold or castrum Mogontiacum, the precursor to Mainz, was founded by the Roman general Drusus perhaps as early as 13/12 BC. As related by Suetonius the existence of Mogontiacum is well established by four years later (the account of the death and funeral of Nero Claudius Drusus), though several other theories suggest the site may have been established earlier. Although the city is situated opposite the mouth of the Main river, the name of Mainz is not from Main, the similarity being perhaps due to diachronic analogy. Main is from Latin Menus, the name the Romans used for the river. Linguistic analysis of the many forms that the name "Mainz" has taken on make it clear that it is a simplification of Mogontiacum. The name appears to be Celtic and ultimately it is. However, it had also become Roman and was selected by them with a special significance. The Roman soldiers defending Gallia had adopted the Gallic god Mogons (Mogounus, Moguns, Mogonino), for the meaning of which etymology offers two basic options: "the great one", similar to Latin magnus. Mogontiacum was an important military town throughout Roman times, probably due to its strategic position at the confluence of the Main and the Rhine. The town of Mogontiacum grew up between the fort and the river. The castrum was the base of Legio XIIII Gemina and XVI Gallica (AD 9–43), XXII Primigenia, IIII Macedonica (43–70), I Adiutrix (70–88), XXI Rapax (70–89), and XIIII Gemina (70–92), among others. Mainz was also a base of a Roman river fleet, the Classis Germanica. Remains of Roman troop ships (navis lusoria) and a patrol boat from the late 4th century were discovered in 1982/86 and may now be viewed in the Museum für Antike Schifffahrt. A temple dedicated to Isis Panthea and Magna Mater was discovered in 2000 and is open to the public. The city was the provincial capital of Germania Superior, and had an important funeral monument dedicated to Drusus, to which people made pilgrimages for an annual festival from as far away as Lyon. Among the famous buildings were the largest theatre north of the Alps and a bridge across the Rhine. Alemanni forces under Rando sacked the city in 368. From the last day of 405 or 406, the Siling and Asding Vandals, the Suebi, the Alans, and other Germanic tribes crossed the Rhine, possibly at Mainz. Christian chronicles relate that the bishop, Aureus, was put to death by the Alemannian Crocus. The way was open to the sack of Trier and the invasion of Gaul. Throughout the changes of time, the Roman castrum never seems to have been permanently abandoned as a military installation, which is a testimony to Roman military judgement. Different structures were built there at different times. The current citadel originated in 1660, but it replaced previous forts. It was used in World War II. One of the sights at the citadel is still the cenotaph raised by legionaries to commemorate their Drusus.

Through a series of incursions during the 4th century Alsace gradually lost its Belgic ethnic character of formerly Germanic tribes among Celts ruled by Romans and became predominantly influenced by the Alamanni. The Romans repeatedly reasserted control; however, the troops stationed at Mainz became chiefly non-Italic and the emperors had only one or two Italian ancestors in a pedigree that included chiefly peoples of the northern frontier. The last emperor to station troops serving the western empire at Mainz was Valentinian III (reigned 425–455), who relied heavily on his Magister militum per Gallias, Flavius Aëtius. By that time the army included large numbers of troops from the major Germanic confederacies along the Rhine, the Alamanni, the Saxons and the Franks. The Franks were an opponent that had risen to power and reputation among the Belgae of the lower Rhine during the 3rd century and repeatedly attempted to extend their influence upstream. In 358 the emperor Julian bought peace by giving them most of Germania Inferior, which they possessed anyway, and imposing service in the Roman army in exchange. European factions in the time of master Aëtius included Celts, Goths, Franks, Saxons, Alamanni, Huns, Italians, and Alans as well as numerous other minor peoples. Aëtius played them all off against one another in a masterly effort to keep the peace under Roman sovereignty. He used Hunnic troops a number of times. At last a day of reckoning arrived between Aëtius and Attila, both commanding polyglot, multi-ethnic troops. Attila went through Alsace in 451, devastating the country and destroying Mainz and Triers with their Roman garrisons. Shortly after he was thwarted by Flavius Aëtius at the Battle of Châlons, the largest of the ancient world. Aëtius was not to enjoy the victory long. He was assassinated in 454 by the hand of his employer, who in turn was stabbed to death by friends of Aëtius in 455. As far as the north was concerned this was the effective end of the Roman empire there. After some sanguinary but relatively brief contention a former subordinate of Aëtius, Ricimer, became emperor, taking the name Patrician. His father was a Suebian; his mother, a princess of the Visigoths. Patrician did not rule the north directly but set up a client province there, which functioned independently. The capital was at Soissons. Even then its status was equivocal. Many insisted it was the Kingdom of Soissons. Previously the first of the Merovingians, Clodio, had been defeated by Aëtius at about 430. His son, Merovaeus, fought on the Roman side against Attila, and his son, Childeric, served in the domain of Soissons. Meanwhile, the Franks were gradually infiltrating and assuming power in this domain. They also moved up the Rhine and created a domain in the region of the former Germania Superior with capital at Cologne. They became known as the Ripuarian Franks as opposed to the Salian Franks. It is unlikely that much of a population transfer or displacement occurred. The former Belgae simply became Franks. Events moved rapidly in the late 5th century. Clovis, son of Childeric, became king of the Salians in 481, ruling from Tournai. In 486 he defeated Syagrius, last governor of the Soissons domain, and took northern France. He extended his reign to Cambrai and Tongeren in 490–491, and repelled the Alamanni in 496. Also in that year he converted to non-Arian Christianity. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, the Franks under the rule of Clovis I gained control over western Europe by the year 496. Clovis annexed the kingdom of Cologne in 508. Thereafter, Mainz, in its strategic position, became one of the bases of the Frankish kingdom. Mainz had sheltered a Christian community long before the conversion of Clovis. His successor Dagobert I reinforced the walls of Mainz and made it one of his seats. The Franks united the Celtic and Germanic tribes of Europe. The greatest Frank of all was Charlemagne (768–814), who built a new empire in Europe, the Holy Roman Empire. Mainz from its central location became important to the empire and to Christianity. Meanwhile, language change was gradually working to divide the Franks. Mainz spoke a dialect termed Ripuarian. On the death of Charlemagne, distinctions between France and Germany began to be made. Mainz was not central any longer but was on the border, creating a question of the nationality to which it belonged, which descended into modern times as the question of Alsace-Lorraine. 

St. Stephan Mainz (St. Stephan Church in Mainz) is famous for its Marc Chagall windows In the early Middle Ages, Mainz was a center for the Christianization of the German and Slavic peoples. The first Archbishop in Mainz, Boniface, was killed in 754 while trying to convert the Frisians to Christianity and is buried in Fulda. Harald Klak, king of Jutland, his family and followers, were baptized at Mainz in 826, in the abbey of St. Alban's. Other early archbishops of Mainz include Rabanus Maurus, the scholar and author, and Willigis (975–1011), who began construction on the current building of the Mainz Cathedral and founded the monastery of St. Stephan. From the time of Willigis until the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the Archbishops of Mainz were archchancellors of the Empire and the most important of the seven Electors of the German emperor. Besides Rome, the diocese of Mainz today is the only diocese in the world with an episcopal see that is called a Holy See (sancta sedes). The Archbishops of Mainz traditionally were primas germaniae, the substitutes of the Pope north of the Alps. In 1244, Archbishop Siegfried III granted Mainz a city charter, which included the right of the citizens to establish and elect a city council. The city saw a feud between two archbishops in 1461, namely Diether von Isenburg, who was elected Archbishop by the cathedral chapter and supported by the citizens, and Adolf II von Nassau, who had been named Archbishop for Mainz by the pope. In 1462, the Archbishop Adolf II raided the city of Mainz, plundering and killing 400 inhabitants. At a tribunal, those who had survived lost all their property, which was then divided between those who promised to follow Adolf II. Those who would not promise to follow Adolf II (amongst them Johannes Gutenberg) were driven out of the town or thrown into prison. The new Archbishop revoked the city charter of Mainz and put the city under his direct rule. Ironically, after the death of Adolf II his successor was again Diether von Isenburg, now legally elected by the chapter and named by the Pope.

During the French Revolution, the French Revolutionary army occupied Mainz in 1792; the Archbishop of Mainz, Friedrich Karl Josef von Erthal, had already fled to Aschaffenburg by the time the French marched in. On 18 March 1793, the Jacobins of Mainz, with other German democrats from about 130 towns in the Rhenish Palatinate, proclaimed the 'Republic of Mainz'. Led by Georg Forster, representatives of the Mainz Republic in Paris requested political affiliation of the Mainz Republic with France, but too late: Prussia was not entirely happy with the idea of a democratic free state on German soil (actually the French dominated Mainz was neither free nor democratic). Prussian troops had already occupied the area and besieged Mainz by the end of March, 1793. After a siege of 18 weeks, the French troops in Mainz surrendered on 23 July 1793; Prussians occupied the city and ended the Republic of Mainz. It came to the Battle of Mainz in 1795 between Austria and France. Members of the Mainz Jacobin Club were mistreated or imprisoned and punished for treason.

In 1797, the French returned. The army of Napoléon Bonaparte occupied the German territory to the west of the Rhine river, and the Treaty of Campo Formio awarded France this entire area. On 17 February 1800, the French Département du Mont-Tonnerre was founded here, with Mainz as its capital, the Rhine river being the new eastern frontier of la Grande Nation. Austria and Prussia could not but approve this new border with France in 1801. However, after several defeats in Europe during the next years, the weakened Napoléon and his troops had to leave Mainz in May 1814.  In 1816, the part of the former French Département which is known today as Rhenish Hesse (German: Rheinhessen) was awarded to the Hesse-Darmstadt, Mainz being the capital of the new Hessian province of Rhenish Hesse. From 1816 to 1866, to the German Confederation Mainz was the most important fortress in the defense against France, and had a strong garrison of Austrian, Prussian and Bavarian troops. In the afternoon of 18 November 1857, a huge explosion rocked Mainz when the city's powder magazine, the Pulverturm, exploded. Approximately 150 people were killed and at least 500 injured; 57 buildings were destroyed and a similar number severely damaged in what was to be known as the Powder Tower Explosion or Powder Explosion. During the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, Mainz was declared a neutral zone. After the founding of the German Empire in 1871, Mainz no longer was as important a stronghold, because in the war of 1870/71 France had lost the territory of Alsace-Lorraine to Germany (which France had occupied piece by piece 1630/1795), and this defined the new border between the two countries. 

The Mainz master builder constructed a number of state-of-the-art public buildings, including the Mainz town hall — which was the largest of its kind in Germany at that time — as well a synagogue, the Rhine harbor and a number of public baths and school buildings. Kreyßig's last work was Christ Church (Christuskirche), the largest Protestant church in the city and the first building constructed solely for the use of a Protestant congregation. In 1905 the demolition of the entire circumvallation and the Rheingauwall was taken in hand, according to imperial order of Wilhelm II. After World War I the French occupied Mainz between 1919 and 1930 according to the Treaty of Versailles which went into effect 28 June 1919. The Rhineland (in which Mainz is located) was to be a demilitarized zone until 1935 and the French garrison, representing the Triple Entente, was to stay until reparations were paid. In 1923 Mainz participated in the Rhineland separatist movement that proclaimed a republic in the Rhineland. It collapsed in 1924. The French withdrew on 30 June 1930. Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in January, 1933 and his political opponents, especially those of the Social Democratic Party, were either incarcerated or murdered. Some were able to move away from Mainz in time. One was the political organizer for the SPD, Friedrich Kellner, who went to Laubach, where as the chief justice inspector of the district court he continued his opposition against the Nazis by recording their misdeeds in a 900-page diary. In March, 1933, a detachment from the National Socialist Party in Worms brought the party to Mainz. They hoisted the swastika on all public buildings. In 1936 the forces of the Third Reich reentered the Rhineland with a great fanfare, the first move of the Third Reich's meteoric expansion. The former Triple Entente took no action. During World War II the citadel at Mainz hosted the Oflag XII-B prisoner of war camp. The Bishop of Mainz, Albert Stohr, formed an organization to help Jews escape from Germany. During World War II, more than 30 air raids destroyed about 80 percent of the city's center, including most of the historic buildings. Mainz was captured on 22 March 1945 against uneven German resistance (staunch in some sectors and weak in other parts of the city) by the 90th Infantry Division under William A. McNulty, a formation of the XII Corps under Third Army commanded by General George S. Patton, Jr. Patton used the ancient strategic gateway through Germania Superior to cross the Rhine south of Mainz, drive down the Danube towards Czechoslovakia and end the possibility of a Bavarian redoubt crossing the Alps in Austria when the war ended. From 1945 to 1949, the city was part of the French zone of occupation. When the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate was founded on 30 August 1946 by the commander of the French army on the French occupation zone Marie Pierre Kœnig, Mainz became capital of the new state. 

We had a half day in Mainz. We walked into the city. 

St.Martin's Cathedral

At the end, we went to the Gutenberg Museum which displays the method that Gutenberg used to invent movable type and print many books including the Gutenberg Bible. Many of his works were on display including copies of his Bible printed in 1455. The guides demonstrated his printing method and printed some examples. The books were mono-color but were embellished in color by monks by hand.

We set sail early afternoon to cruise the upper middle Rhine valley, a most scenic spot of Germany.



There are many castles in this area of the Rhine. Most charged tolls to pass through. Most were destroyed by the French in various actions. Only a few survived intact. The area is also the wine center of Germany. Most hillsides are vineyards today.

Burgruine Ehrenfels

It was (re-)built about 1212 at the behest of the Archbishop of Mainz as a defensive work against the constant attacks by Elector Palatine Henry V, who, as Imperial vicar of Franconia, strived to cut down the archbishop's reach. Mainz staffed the castle with Burgmannen and erected a customs post controlling the shipping on the Rhine, supplemented by the Mouse Tower below at the river. Heavily damaged in the course of the Thirty Years' War, the castle was finally devastated by French troops under the command of Lieutenant General Nicolas Chalon du Blé during the 1689 Siege of Mainz.

Burg Rheinstein

The roots of the castle are dated back to the late 13th century. The archbishop of Mainz built it as a customs castle. Also it was used to secure the territory of Mainz in the fight against the robber knights of the other castles down the river Rhine. Its zenith was from the 13th to 16th century. Afterwards the castle fall into ruin around the 17th century. In 1823 Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia acquired the well-preserved stock of ruins and had it rebuilt. Therewith the 1st romantic castle garden arose at a castle on the Middle-Rhine. Due to constant succession the castle remained in property of the Hohenzollern family up to 1975.

Burg Sooneck

Recent research has established that the castle was probably first mentioned in 1271. Like neighboring Reichenstein Castle, it was managed by the lords of Hohenfels as bailiffs for Kornelimünster Abbey near Aachen. What is certain is that the castle was besieged in 1282 by King Rudolph I. His troops overran and destroyed the castle and the king imposed a ban on rebuilding it, which he explicitly restated in 1290. In April 1346 Archbishop Henry III of Mainz gave Sooneck Castle in fief to John, Knight Marshall of Waldeck, who subsequently had a new castle built on the site. After his death it passed jointly to four of his heirs and the castle thus became a multi-family property, or Ganerbenburg. The branches of the family jointly residing in the castle were not on good terms and quarreled over inheritances. Several times, peace had to be legally imposed. When the line of Waldeck died out in 1553 with the death of Philipp Melchior, the Breidbach zu Bürresheim family, previously co-tenants, became sole tenants of Sooneck Castle. When that family became extinct, the castle began to fall into disrepair. In the course of the War of the Palatine Succession, Sooneck - like all the castles on the left bank of the Rhine - was destroyed in 1689 by troops of King Louis XIV of France. In 1774, the Archdiocese of Mainz leased the ruins to four residents of Trechtingshausen who planted vineyards. The site later came into the possession of the village of Niederheimbach. In 1834, the then crown prince of Prussia, Frederick William IV, and his brothers Princes William, Charles, and Albert bought the completely derelict castle and, between 1834 and 1861, had it rebuilt as a hunting lodge. In the rebuilding, which was designed by the military architect Carl Schnitzler, the historical structures were largely retained with the addition of buildings in romantic style. The Prussian royal crest over the north gate of the castle dates to this period. Disagreements within the royal family and the effects of the revolutions in Germany in 1848 prevented the castle from ever being used as a hunting lodge.

Burg Stahleck

From about 1000 CE, Bacharach is presumed to have been a possession of the Archbishops of Cologne. They had the castle built, perhaps as a southern outpost to guard the far-flung archbishopric; their Vogt resided there. It is uncertain when the present castle was built to replace an earlier fortification; perhaps around 1135. It was the first large castle north of Bingen and Rüdesheim. 

After the introduction of cannon, an artillery platform was added to the medieval castle on the northeast side to cover the access route, but its exact date of construction is unknown. Despite this, the castle was besieged, conquered, and sacked a total of eight times during the Thirty Years' War. On 4 October 1620, it and the town of Bacharach were taken by Spanish troops commanded by Ambrogio Spinola, but the Spaniards were evicted by Protestant Swedes on 9 January 1632. The castle was heavily damaged during the siege leading up to its recapture. In July 1635, Imperial troops under Matthias Gallas, Count of Campo, successfully besieged Stahleck. They were evicted four years later, in July 1639, by Saxe-Weimar soldiers, but the castle was then occupied by Bavarian troops in March 1640. They stayed only a short time, and after their withdrawal the Saxe-Weimar troops reoccupied the castle and the town. In autumn 1640, after a 14-day siege, Spanish troops once more took their place.

In September 1644, the castle and the town were taken by French soldiers after a 10-day siege; the following month, Cologne troops attacked them and forced them to retreat to the castle with heavy losses. The Cologne commander, Constantin von Nievenheimb, therefore ordered the bombardment and "more or less ruination" of the castle, but did not attempt to capture it. The French soldiers remained until 24 July 1650 but had to vacate the castle under the terms of the Peace of Westphalia, which returned it to the Palatinate and Count Palatine Karl Ludwig. In 1666, he had the castle repaired and made some alterations: he greatly changed the interior of the palas and between it and the northern rampart built a massive new building with a Fachwerk half-timbered upper story. An inscribed stone tablet on the palas commemorates his rebuilding of the castle. During the War of the Palatine Succession, the castle was decisively destroyed, like most of the fortifications in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. Its commander, von Dachenhausen, surrendered it to French troops on 11 October 1688, but on 15 March 1689 they blew it up. The explosion completely destroyed both the ring wall and the keep, the residential buildings burned out in the resulting fire, and debris from the explosion destroyed the Gothic Werner Chapel at the foot of the castle hill. The castle was so heavily damaged that it was not rebuilt. Under the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick, the ruin reverted to the Palatinate, where it remained until the dissolution of the County at the end of the 18th century.

Burg Gutenfels

Gutenfels Castle was built in 1220. It was used with the toll castle, Pfalzgrafenstein Castle in the middle of the Rhein and the fortified town of Kaub on the farthest side to provide an impenetrable anti-toll zone for the Holy Roman Emperor until Prussia purchased the area (1866) and ended this toll in 1867.

Burg Pfalzgrafenstein

The keep of this island castle, a pentagonal tower with its point upstream, was erected 1326 to 1327 by King Ludwig the Bavarian. Around the tower, a defensive hexagonal wall was built between 1338 to 1340. In 1477 Pfalzgrafenstein was passed as deposit to the Count of Katzenelnbogen. Later additions were made in 1607 and 1755, consisting of corner turrets, the gun bastion pointing upstream, and the characteristic baroque tower cap. The castle functioned as a toll-collecting station that was not to be ignored. It worked in concert with Gutenfels Castle and the fortified town of Kaub on the right side of the river. Due to a dangerous cataract on the river's left, about a kilometer upstream, every vessel would have to use the fairway nearer to the right bank, thus floating downstream between the mighty fortress on the vessel's left and the town and castle on its right. A chain across the river drawn between those two fortifications forced ships to submit, and uncooperative traders could be kept in the dungeon until a ransom was delivered. The dungeon was a wooden float in the well.


Schönburg Castle was first mentioned in history between the years 911 and 1166. From the 12th century, the Dukes of Schönburg ruled over the town of Oberwesel and had also the right to levy customs on the Rhine river. The Schönburg line died out with the last heir, the son of Friedrich of Schönburg. The castle was burned down in 1689 by French soldiers during the Palatinate wars.

Burg Katz

Count Wilhelm II. of Katzenelnbogen has built the Katz Castle in the second half of the 14th century. Katz Castle was used as bastion and military base to protect the Rheinfels Castle. Together they formed a fortified bulwark with a barrier for levying of the Rhine toll. Due to the intentionally chosen location on the mountain ridge Katz Castle could not possibly be conquered from the valley. Only after the invention of fire arms, Katz Castle had to be substantially reinforced. It was also upgraded as bastion against Maus Castle in the Electorate of Trier. At the same time the donjon of Katz Castle was raised to approx. 197 feet to ensure eye contact with Reichenstein Castle which is approx 1.9 miles away. In 1479 the family line of the Counts of Katzenelnbogen died out. In succession of long-lasting disputes on heritage, Katz Castle and Rheinfels Castle were besieged, demolished, rebuilt and extended several times. Even though repairs had been made in 1800, Napoleon blew up Katz Castle in 1806.

Burg Rheinfels

It was started in 1245 by Count Diether V of Katzenelnbogen. After expansions, it was the largest fortress in the Middle Rhein Valley between Koblenz and Mainz. It was slighted by French Revolutionary Army troops in 1797. It is the largest castle overlooking the Rhine, and historically covered five times its current area.

Burg Maus

Construction of the castle was begun in 1356 by Archbishop-Elector of Trier Bohemond II and was continued for the next 30 years by successive Electors of Trier. The construction of Burg Maus was to enforce Trier's recently acquired Rhine River toll rights and to secure Trier's borders against the Counts of Katzenelnbogen (who had built Burg Katz and Burg Rheinfels). In the latter half of the 14th century Burg Maus was one of the residences of the Elector of Trier. Unlike its two neighboring castles, Burg Maus was never destroyed, though it fell into disrepair in the 16th and 17th centuries. Restoration of the castle was undertaken between 1900 and 1906 under the architect Wilhelm Gärtner with attention to historical detail.

Burg Liebenstein

Liebenstein Castle, built in the 13th Century was the forecastle of Sterrenberg Castle. The two shield walls serve as improved defense of Sterrenberg.


A stone keep was built on the spot in 1100 by the Eppstein family and expanded into a castle around 1117 to protect the town of Braubach and to reinforce the customs facilities. It was first mentioned in documents in 1231. The Eppsteins were a powerful family in the region, with several members becoming archbishops in Mainz and Trier. In 1283, Count Eberhard of Katzenelnbogen bought it and throughout the 14th and 15th century the high noble counts rebuilt the castle constantly. In 1429 the male line of the Counts of Katzenelnbogen became extinct, and the territories went to the Count of Hesse, who expanded the castle to accommodate artillery and added the round towers of the outer curtain wall. Of the 40 hill castles between Bingen am Rhein and Koblenz the Marksburg was the only one which was never destroyed.




Around 1000 BC, early fortifications were erected on the Festung Ehrenbreitstein hill on the opposite side of the Moselle. In 55 BC, Roman troops commanded by Julius Caesar reached the Rhine and built a bridge between Koblenz and Andernach. About 9 BC, the "Castellum apud Confluentes", was one of the military posts established by Drusus. Remains of a large bridge built in 49 AD by the Romans are still visible. The Romans built two castles as protection for the bridge, one in 9 AD and another in the 2nd century, the latter being destroyed by the Franks in 259. North of Koblenz was a temple of Mercury and Rosmerta (a Gallo-Roman deity), which remained in use up to the 5th century. With the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the city was conquered by the Franks and became a royal seat. After the division of Charlemagne's empire, it was included in the lands of his son Louis the Pious (814). In 837, it was assigned to Charles the Bald, and a few years later it was here that Carolingian heirs discussed what was to become the Treaty of Verdun (843), by which the city became part of Lotharingia under Lothair I. In 860 and 922, Koblenz was the scene of ecclesiastical synods. At the first synod, held in the Liebfrauenkirche, the reconciliation of Louis the German with his half-brother Charles the Bald took place. The city was sacked and destroyed by the Norsemen in 882. In 925, it became part of the eastern German Kingdom, later the Holy Roman Empire.

 In 1018, the city was given by the emperor Henry II to the archbishop-elector of Trier after receiving a charter. It remained in the possession of his successors until the end of the 18th century, having been their main residence since the 17th century. Emperor Conrad II was elected here in 1138. In 1198, the battle between Philip of Swabia and Otto IV took place nearby. In 1216, prince-bishop Theoderich von Wied donated part of the lands of the basilica and the hospital to the Teutonic Knights, which later became the Deutsches Eck. In 1249–1254, Koblenz was given new walls by Archbishop Arnold II of Isenburg; and it was partly to overawe the turbulent citizens that successive archbishops built and strengthened the fortress of Ehrenbreitstein that still dominates the city.

The city was a member of the league of the Rhenish cities which rose in the 13th century. The Teutonic Knights founded the Bailiwick of Koblenz in or around 1231. Koblenz attained great prosperity and it continued to advance until the disaster of the Thirty Years' War brought about a rapid decline. After Philip Christopher, elector of Trier, surrendered Ehrenbreitstein to the French, the city received an imperial garrison in 1632. However, this force was soon expelled by the Swedes, who in their turn handed the city over again to the French. Imperial forces finally succeeded in retaking it by storm in 1636. In 1688, Koblenz was besieged by the French under Marshal de Boufflers, but they only succeeded in bombing the Old City (Altstadt) into ruins, destroying among other buildings the Old Merchants' Hall (Kaufhaus), which was restored in its present form in 1725. The city was the residence of the archbishop-electors of Trier from 1690 to 1801.

In 1786, the last archbishop-elector of Trier, Clemens Wenceslaus of Saxony, greatly assisted the extension and improvement of the city, turning the Ehrenbreitstein into a magnificent baroque palace. After the fall of the Bastille in 1789, the city became, through the invitation of the archbishop-elector's chief minister, Ferdinand Freiherr von Duminique, one of the principal rendezvous points for French émigrés. The archbishop-elector approved of this because he was the uncle of the persecuted king of France, Louis XVI. Among the many royalist French refugees who flooded into the city were Louis XVI's two younger brothers, the Comte de Provence and the Comte d'Artois. In addition, Louis XVI's cousin, Prince Louis Joseph de Bourbon, prince de Condé, arrived and formed an army of young aristocrats willing to fight the French Revolution and restore the Ancien Régime. The Army of Condé joined with an allied army of Prussian and Austrian soldiers led by Duke Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand of Brunswick in an unsuccessful invasion of France in 1792. This drew down the wrath of the First French Republic on the archbishop-elector; in 1794, Koblenz was taken by the French Revolutionary army under Marceau (who was killed during the siege), and, after the signing of the Treaty of Lunéville (1801) it was made the capital of the new French départment of Rhin-et-Moselle. In 1814, it was occupied by the Russians. The Congress of Vienna assigned the city to Prussia, and in 1822, it was made the seat of government for the Prussian Rhine Province. After World War I, France occupied the area once again. In defiance of the French, the German populace of the city has insisted on using the more German spelling of Koblenz since 1926. During World War II it was the location of the command of German Army Group B and like many other German cities, it was heavily bombed and rebuilt afterwards. Between 1947 and 1950, it served as the seat of government of Rhineland-Palatinate.

We had a walking tour of the city. First mon ument we passed was the official "Emperor William Monument of the Rhine Province" which was erected and solemnly inaugurated in the presence of the emperor on 31 August 1897. It bears  an inscription quoting a verse by the Koblenz poet Max von Schenkendorf: Nimmer wird das Reich zerstöret, wenn ihr einig seid und treu ("Never will the Empire be destroyed, so long as you are united and loyal"). Another inscription could be found at the statue dedicating it to Wilhelm der Große . The equestrian statue itself, 14 m (46 ft) in height, presented William I in a general's uniform, reminiscent of the Prussian victories in the "German Wars of Unification". His horse is roped by a winged female genius bearing a laurel wreath and the Imperial Crown. The monument was partially destroyed in 1945. In 1992, the city wanted to restore the monument as a Reunification Monument. The installation took place on Sedan Day, which although no longer officially recognized, was the day on which the German victory in the Battle of Sedan was commemorated. On 25 September 1993, the new statue was inaugurated. Today, a big national flag and the flags of the 16 Länder are flying at the German Corner as a reminder of German unity. The three parts of the Berlin Wall are now dedicated to the "victims of the division".

Excavation of original Roman defensive wall

The Rhine has flooded Koblenz a number of times. This marker shows the recent levels. The marks show the high water marks (from  top to bottom): December 1993, January 1995, February  1970, and March 1988

St. Castor Basilica

St. Florian Protestant Church

Koblenzer Brauerei, Altes Brauhaus established 1689



The first urban settlement on the grounds of modern-day Köln (Cologne) was Oppidum Ubiorum, founded in 38 BC by the Ubii, a Cisrhenian Germanic tribe. In 50 AD, the Romans founded Colonia on the Rhine and the city became the provincial capital of Germania Inferior in 85 AD. The city was named "Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium" in 50 AD. From 260 to 271 Cologne was the capital of the Gallic Empire under Postumus, Marius, and Victorinus. In 310 under Constantine a bridge was built over the Rhine at Cologne. Roman imperial governors resided in the city and it became one of the most important trade and production centres in the Roman Empire north of the Alps. Maternus, who was elected as bishop in 313, was the first known bishop of Cologne. The city was the capital of a Roman province until occupied by the Ripuarian Franks in 462. Parts of the original Roman sewers are preserved underneath the city, with the new sewerage system having opened in 1890. 

Early medieval Cologne was part of Austrasia within the Frankish Empire. Cologne had been the seat of a bishop since the Roman period; under Charlemagne, in 795, bishop Hildebold was promoted to archbishop. In 843 Cologne became a city within the Treaty of Verdun-created East Francia. In 953, the archbishops of Cologne first gained noteworthy secular power, when bishop Bruno was appointed as duke by his brother Otto I, King of Germany. In order to weaken the secular nobility, who threatened his power, Otto endowed Bruno and his successors on the bishop's see with the prerogatives of secular princes, thus establishing the Electorate of Cologne, formed by the temporal possessions of the archbishopric and included in the end a strip of territory along the left Bank of the Rhine east of Jülich, as well as the Duchy of Westphalia on the other side of the Rhine, beyond Berg and Mark. By the end of the 12th century, the Archbishop of Cologne was one of the seven electors of the Holy Roman Emperor. Besides being prince elector, he was Arch-chancellor of Italy as well, technically from 1238 and permanently from 1263 until 1803. Following the Battle of Worringen in 1288, Cologne gained its independence from the archbishops and became a Free City. Archbishop Sigfried II von Westerburg was forced into exile in Bonn. The archbishop nevertheless preserved the right of capital punishment. Thus the municipal council (though in strict political opposition towards the archbishop) depended upon him in all matters concerning criminal justice. This included torture, which sentence was only allowed to be handed down by the episcopal judge, the so-called "Greve". This legal situation lasted until the French conquest of Cologne. Besides its economic and political significance Cologne also became an important center of medieval pilgrimage, when Cologne's Archbishop Rainald of Dassel gave the relics of the Three Wise Men to Cologne's cathedral in 1164 (after they in fact had been captured from Milan). Besides the three magi Cologne preserves the relics of Saint Ursula and Albertus Magnus. Cologne's location on the river Rhine placed it at the intersection of the major trade routes between east and west as well as the main Western Europe trade route, South - North Northern Italy-Flanders. These two trade routes were the basis of Cologne's growth. By 1300 the city population were 50,000-55,000. Cologne was a member of the Hanseatic League in 1475, when Frederick III confirmed the city's imperial immediacy.

The economic structures of medieval and early modern Cologne were characterized by the city's status as a major harbor and transport hub on the Rhine. Craftsmanship was organized by self-administering guilds, some of which were exclusive to women. As a free city, Cologne was a sovereign state within the Holy Roman Empire and as such had the right (and obligation) to maintain its own military force. As they wore a red uniform, these troops were known as the Rote Funken (red sparks). These soldiers were part of the Army of the Holy Roman Empire ("Reichskontingent") and fought in the wars of the 17th and 18th century, including the wars against revolutionary France, when the small force was almost completely wiped out in combat. The tradition of these troops is preserved as a military persiflage by Cologne's most outstanding carnival society, the Rote Funken. The free city of Cologne must not be confused with the Archbishopric of Cologne which was a state of its own within the Holy Roman Empire. Since the second half of the 16th century the archbishops were drawn from the Bavaria Wittelsbach dynasty. Due to the free status of Cologne, the archbishops were usually not allowed to enter the city. Thus they took up residence in Bonn and later in Brühl on the Rhine. As members of an influential and powerful family, and supported by their outstanding status as electors, the archbishops of Cologne repeatedly challenged and threatened the free status of Cologne during the 17th and 18th centuries, resulting in complicated affairs, which were handled by diplomatic means and propaganda as well as by the supreme courts of the Holy Roman Empire. 

Cologne lost its status as a free city during the French period. According to the Peace Treaty of Lunéville (1801) all the territories of the Holy Roman Empire on the left bank of the Rhine were officially incorporated into the French Republic (which had already occupied Cologne in 1794). Thus this region later became part of Napoleon's Empire. Cologne was part of the French Département Roer (named after the River Roer, German: Rur) with Aachen (French: Aix-la-Chapelle) as its capital. The French modernised public life, for example by introducing the Napoleonic code and removing the old elites from power. The Napoleonic code remained in use on the left bank of the Rhine until 1900, when a unified civil code (the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch) was introduced in the German Empire. In 1815 at the Congress of Vienna, Cologne was made part of the Kingdom of Prussia, first in the Jülich-Cleves-Berg province and then the Rhine province. The permanent tensions between the Roman Catholic Rhineland and the overwhelmingly Protestant Prussian state repeatedly escalated with Cologne being in the focus of the conflict. In 1837 the archbishop of Cologne, Clemens August von Droste-Vischering, was arrested and imprisoned for two years after a dispute over the legal status of marriages between Protestants and Roman Catholics (Mischehenstreit). In 1874, during the Kulturkampf, Archbishop Paul Melchers was imprisoned before taking refuge in the Netherlands. These conflicts alienated the Catholic population from Berlin and contributed to a deeply felt anti-Prussian resentment, which was still significant after World War II, when the former mayor of Cologne, Konrad Adenauer, became the first West German chancellor. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Cologne absorbed numerous surrounding towns, and by World War I had already grown to 700,000 inhabitants. Industrialization changed the city and spurred its growth. Vehicle and engine manufacturing were especially successful, though heavy industry was less ubiquitous than in the Ruhr area. The cathedral, started in 1248 but abandoned around 1560, was eventually finished in 1880 not just as a place of worship but also as a German national monument celebrating the newly founded German empire and the continuity of the German nation since the Middle Ages. Some of this urban growth occurred at the expense of the city's historic heritage with much being demolished (for example, the city walls or the area around the cathedral) and sometimes replaced by contemporary buildings. Cologne was designated as one of the Fortresses of the German Confederation. It was turned into a heavily armed fortress (opposing the French and Belgian fortresses of Verdun and Liège) with two fortified belts surrounding the city, the remains of which can be seen to this day. The military demands on what became Germany's largest fortress presented a significant obstacle to urban development, with forts, bunkers, and wide defensive dugouts completely encircling the city and preventing expansion; this resulted in a very densely built-up area within the city itself. During World War I Cologne was the target of several minor air raids, but suffered no significant damage. Cologne was occupied by the British Army of the Rhine until 1926, under the terms of the Armistice and the subsequent Versailles Peace Treaty. In contrast with the harsh behavior of the French occupation troops in Germany, the British forces were more lenient to the local population. Konrad Adenauer, the mayor of Cologne from 1917 until 1933 and later a West German chancellor, acknowledged the political impact of this approach, especially since Britain had opposed French demands for a permanent Allied occupation of the entire Rhineland. As part of the demilitarization of the Rhineland, the city's fortifications had to be dismantled. This was an opportunity to create two green belts (Grüngürtel) around the city by converting the fortifications and their fields of fire into large public parks. This was not completed until 1933. In 1919 the University of Cologne, closed by the French in 1798, was reopened. This was considered to be a replacement for the loss of the University of Strasbourg on the west bank of the Rhine, which reverted to France with the rest of Alsace. Cologne prospered during the Weimar Republic (1919–33), and progress was made especially in public governance, city planning, housing and social affairs. Social housing projects were considered exemplary and were copied by other German cities. Cologne competed to host the Olympics, and a modern sports stadium was erected at Müngersdorf. When the British occupation ended, the prohibition of civil aviation was lifted and Cologne Butzweilerhof Airport soon became a hub for national and international air traffic, second in Germany only to Berlin Tempelhof Airport. The democratic parties lost the local elections in Cologne in March 1933 to the Nazi Party and other right wing parties. The Nazis then arrested the Communist and Social Democrats members of the city assembly, and Mayor Adenauer was dismissed. Compared to some other major cities, however, the Nazis never gained decisive support in Cologne.

During World War II, Cologne was a Military Area Command Headquarters (Militärbereichshauptkommandoquartier) for the Military District (Wehrkreis) VI of Münster. Cologne was under the command of Lieutenant-General Freiherr Roeder von Diersburg, who was responsible for military operations in Bonn, Siegburg, Aachen, Jülich, Düren, and Monschau. Cologne was home to the 211th Infantry Regiment and the 26th Artillery Regiment. During the Bombing of Cologne in World War II, Cologne endured 262 air raids by the Western Allies, which caused approximately 20,000 civilian casualties and almost completely wiped out the central part of the city. During the night of 31 May 1942, Cologne was the target of "Operation Millennium", the first 1,000 bomber raid by the Royal Air Force in World War II. 1,046 heavy bombers attacked their target with 1,455 tons of explosives, approximately two-thirds of which were incendiary. This raid lasted about 75 minutes, destroyed 600 acres (243 ha) of built-up area, killed 486 civilians and made 59,000 people homeless. Cologne was taken by the American First Army in early March, 1945. By the end of the war, the population of Cologne had been reduced by 95 per cent. This loss was mainly caused by a massive evacuation of the people to more rural areas. The same happened in many other German cities in the last two years of war. By the end of 1945, however, the population had already recovered to approximately 500,000. 

Despite Cologne's status as the largest city in the region, nearby Düsseldorf was chosen as the political capital of the federated state of North Rhine-Westphalia. With Bonn being chosen as the provisional federal capital (provisorische Bundeshauptstadt) and seat of the government of the Federal Republic of Germany (then informally West Germany), Cologne benefited by being sandwiched between two important political centers. The city became - and still is - home to a number of federal agencies and organizations. After reunification in 1990, Berlin was made the capital of Germany. In 1945 architect and urban planner Rudolf Schwarz called Cologne the "world's greatest heap of rubble". Schwarz designed the master plan for reconstruction in 1947, which included the construction of several new thoroughfares through the city center, especially the Nord-Süd-Fahrt ("North-South-Drive"). The master plan took into consideration the fact that even shortly after the war a large increase in automobile traffic could be anticipated. Plans for new roads had already, to a certain degree, evolved under the Nazi administration, but the actual construction became easier when most of the city center was in ruins. The destruction of 95% of the city center, including the famous Twelve Romanesque churches such as St. Gereon, Great St. Martin, St. Maria im Kapitol and several other monuments in World War II, meant a tremendous loss of cultural treasures. The rebuilding of those churches and other landmarks such as the Gürzenich event hall was not undisputed among leading architects and art historians at that time, but in most cases, civil intention prevailed. The reconstruction lasted until the 1990s, when the Romanesque church of St. Kunibert was finished. In 1959, the city's population reached pre-war numbers again. It then grew steadily, exceeding 1 million for about one year from 1975. It remained just below that until mid-2010, when it exceeded 1 million again.

We spent about three quarters of a day in Cologne. We had a walking tour of the city. The ship departed at 1500 hours for Amsterdam. 

Cologne Dom

\Excavating Roman columns in Cologne

Rich, Soraya, Phil, Marilyn snacking at Früh am Dom

Marilyn with her black vanilla and my chocolate gelato cones





Amsterdam was granted city rights in either 1300 or 1306. From the 14th century on, Amsterdam flourished, largely from trade with the Hanseatic League. In 1345, an Eucharistic miracle in the Kalverstraat rendered the city an important place of pilgrimage until the adoption of the Protestant faith. The Miracle devotion went underground but was kept alive. In the 19th century, especially after the jubilee of 1845, the devotion was revitalized and became an important national point of reference for Dutch Catholics. The Stille Omgang—a silent walk or procession in civil attire—is the expression of the pilgrimage within the Protestant Netherlands since the late 19th century. In the heyday of the Silent Walk, up to 90,000 pilgrims came to Amsterdam. In the 21st century this has reduced to about 5000. In the 16th century, the Dutch rebelled against Philip II of Spain and his successors. The main reasons for the uprising were the imposition of new taxes, the tenth penny, and the religious persecution of Protestants by the newly introduced Inquisition. The revolt escalated into the Eighty Years' War, which ultimately led to Dutch independence. Strongly pushed by Dutch Revolt leader William the Silent, the Dutch Republic became known for its relative religious tolerance. Jews from the Iberian Peninsula, Huguenots from France, prosperous merchants and printers from Flanders, and economic and religious refugees from the Spanish-controlled parts of the Low Countries found safety in Amsterdam. The influx of Flemish printers and the city's intellectual tolerance made Amsterdam a center for the European free press.

The Royal Palace, Nieuwe Kerk, and now demolished weigh house on Dam Square in 1814. The 17th century is considered Amsterdam's Golden Age, during which it became the wealthiest city in the world. Ships sailed from Amsterdam to the Baltic Sea, North America, and Africa, as well as present-day Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, and Brazil, forming the basis of a worldwide trading network. Amsterdam's merchants had the largest share in both the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company. These companies acquired overseas possessions that later became Dutch colonies. Amsterdam was Europe's most important point for the shipment of goods and was the leading Financial center of the world. In 1602, the Amsterdam office of the international trading Dutch East India Company became the world's first stock exchange by trading in its own shares. The Bank of Amsterdam started operations in 1609, acting as a full service bank for Dutch merchant bankers and as a reserve bank. Amsterdam's prosperity declined during the 18th and early 19th centuries. The wars of the Dutch Republic with England and France took their toll on Amsterdam. During the Napoleonic Wars, Amsterdam's significance reached its lowest point, with Holland being absorbed into the French Empire as the Kingdom of Holland with Louis Napoleon brothey of Napoleon Bonaparte installed as king. However, the later establishment of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815 marked a turning point.

Vijzelstraat looking towards Muntplein in 1891 The end of the 19th century is sometimes called Amsterdam's second Golden Age. New museums, a railway station, and the Concertgebouw were built; in this same time, the Industrial Revolution reached the city. The Amsterdam–Rhine Canal was dug to give Amsterdam a direct connection to the Rhine, and the North Sea Canal was dug to give the port a shorter connection to the North Sea. Both projects dramatically improved commerce with the rest of Europe and the world.Shortly before the First World War, the city started to expand again, and new suburbs were built. Even though the Netherlands remained neutral in this war, Amsterdam suffered a food shortage, and heating fuel became scarce. The shortages sparked riots in which several people were killed. These riots are known as the Aardappeloproer (Potato rebellion). People started looting stores and warehouses in order to get supplies, mainly food.

On 1 January 1921, after a flood in 1916, the depleted municipalities of Durgerdam, Holysloot, Zunderdorp and Schellingwoude, all lying north of Amsterdam, were, at their own request, annexed to the city. Between the wars, the city continued to expand, most notably to the west of the Jordaan district in the Frederik Hendrikbuurt and surrounding neighbourhoods. Germany invaded the Netherlands on 10 May 1940 and took control of the country. At the end of the Second World War, communication with the rest of the country broke down, and food and fuel became scarce. Many citizens traveled to the countryside to forage. Dogs, cats, raw sugar beets, and Tulip bulbs—cooked to a pulp—were consumed to stay alive. Most of the trees in Amsterdam were cut down for fuel.

For openers, we had a canal cruise boat tour of the city. Interestingly, many residents live on boats along the canals. The fees and taxes are much lower that a structural residence. Some of the canals are lined on both sides with houseboats of varying size and quality. 

After the tour we were driven to de Kookfabriek, a unique eating place. The place is a large hall with coking stations on both sides, seating at tables in the center, and a wine/beer serving station at the rear.  We were split up into teams of eight people and were assigned a cooking station. There was a chef Julian who roamed te area. We had a mentor assigned to assist us. All the raw materials were there, it was up to us to prepare the food. Each couple was assigned a specialty. We had vegetables, Rich and Soraya had salmon. Another couple had chicken hindquarters and another had dessert. It was great fun.    


After that, we returned to the ship to pack up for our departure the next morning.