Rhineland-Palatinate State Attractions Rheinland-Pfalz
Rhineland-Palatinate is located in western Germany, with the Rhine river flowing through the state.
Situation and characteristicsThe Eifel, an upland region some 70km/45mi long and 30km/20mi wide between the Rhine, the Mosel and the Rur, is a residual range of hills averaging 600 m/2,000ft in height and reaching its highest point in the Hohe Acht (746 m/2,448ft) which was disrupted by more than 200 volcanoes. The lava flows from these extinct volcanoes can still be clearly distinguished in the present landscape pattern, particularly around the Laacher See, the Nürburgring and the towns of Daun and Manderscheid.MaareAlso of volcanic origin are the romantically beautiful maare so characteristic of the Eifel - old volcanic craters, mostly now filled by small lakes. A particularly fine example of a maar is the 52 m/170ft deep Laacher See, surrounded by more than forty lava vents. Equally beautiful are the maare around Daun, particularly the Gemündener Maar and the melancholy Totenmaar.DamsIn recent years a number of large dams have been constructed in the northwestern Eifel, forming artificial lakes and producing attractive new landscape patterns, such as the dam in the Urft valley and the Schwammenauel reservoir in the river Rur. The rivers, the maare and the lakes have great attractions for anglers and water sports enthusiasts, and the abundant snow of the Hocheifel and Schnee-Eifel offers excellent skiing.
Situation and characteristicsThe Hunsrück, the most southerly part of the Rhenish Uplands on the left bank of the Rhine, facing the Taunus on the right bank, lies between the Rhine, the Mosel, the lower Saar and the Nahe.LandscapeThe Hunsrück is an upland region between 400 m/1,300ft and 500 m/1,650ft high out of which rises a long ridge of quartzite hills reaching their highest point in the Erbeskopf (816 m/2,677ft), the highest peak in the left-bank Rhenish Uplands. While the gently rolling plateau has lost much of its forest cover and is dotted with little towns and villages, the hills are covered with one of the largest areas of forest in Germany (mainly conifers) - the Bingerwald and Soonwald to the east, the Idarwald and Hochwald to the west.
The Hunsrück-Höhenstrasse runs through the finest stretches of the Hunsrück. On the road are the little altitude resort of Kastellaun (ruined castle) and the resorts of Morbach, Thalfang and Hermeskeil (chief place in the Hochwald). The road from Bingen to the Hunsrück passes through the ancient little towns of Stromberg, Simmern (chief town of the Hunsrück) and Kirchberg.
Ahr Valley Region
The Ahr valley (Ahrtal) in the northern Eifel is one of the most beautiful of the Rhine's tributary valleys. The river, 89km/55mi long, rises at Blankenheim and flows into the Rhine below Sinzig.In the narrow valley nestle a succession of towns and villages - Altenahr, Mayschoss, Rech, Dernau, Marienthal, Walporzheim, Bachem and Ahrweiler.The finest part of the valley is the romantic stretch between Altenahr and Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, where the river forces its way in a winding course between rugged slate crags. Particularly impressive is the high rock face known as the Bunte Kuh at Walporzheim. The hills are crowned by ruined castles, and their slopes are covered with woodlands.
Ahrweiler, Bad Neuenahr
The little medieval town of Ahrweiler, amalgamated with Bad Neuenahr in 1969, a popular spa, has the only alkaline springs (36 deg C/97 deg F) in Germany. It is located in the Ahr Valley. The spa facilities lie on the right bank of the Ahr; the two most important springs are the Grosser Sprudel (90 m/295ft deep) and the Willibrordussprudel (376 m/1,234ft deep). In the south of the town is the 18th century St Willibrord's Church (R.C.). Above Neuenahr is Neuenahr Castle (Burg Neuenahr).Its medieval walls and gate towers still stand. St Lawrence's Church was built during the 13th and 14th centuries.
The village, Mayschoss, is surrounded by cliffs and is very picturesque.
Situation and characteristicsPirmasens, a town with a history going back to the eighth century, lies some 35km/22mi south of Kaiserslautern on the edge of the Pfälzer Wald Nature Park. The predominant element in its economy is the shoe industry. The heavy destruction suffered by the town during the Second World War has left it with few historic buildings.
The hub of Pirmasens life is the spacious Schlossplatz. Together with the Hauptstrasse, which cuts across it, this now forms an unusually shaped pedestrian zone (Bismarck Monument, in Art Nouveau style). A striking feature of the square is the Ramba-Treppe, a wide curving flight of steps with beautiful cascades. On the west side of the square stands the Old Town Hall (c. 1770), now occupied by the town's principal museums (Shoe Museum, Heimatmuseum, Bürkel Gallery). Facing it, on the east side of the square, is the Catholic parish church of St Pirminius, a brick-built neo-Gothic basilica (1897-1900).Farther north is St John's Church (Protestant), built in 1750 and rebuilt in 1953.In the southern part of the pedestrian zone is the Luther Church (originally Late Baroque), with a curving steeple. In front of the church can be seen the Shoemaker's Fountain, with a monument to a local master shoemaker, Joss, a pioneer of mechanical shoe manufacture.
Situation and characteristicsThe old "Barbarossa town" of Kaiserslautern, situated at the intersection of important traffic routes, is the cultural and economic center of the Palatinate Forest (Pfälzerwald), with a university (1970) and the Palatinate Theater (Pfalztheater).
In the center of Kaiserslautern lies the Stiftsplatz, with the three-towered Early Gothic Stiftskirche (13th-14th C.; Protestant). In the porch is a memorial, with figures of Luther and Calvin, commemorating the union of the two Protestant denominations (1818). In front of the church can be seen the "Schöner Brunnen" ("Beautiful Fountain").To the northeast is St Martin's Church (14th C.; R.C.). West of this is the neo-Renaissance Fruchthalle (1843-46), originally the fruit and vegetable market, now a public hall.Of the old Barbarossa castle (originally founded by Charlemagne and enlarged by the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in 1153-58) only fragments survive. The Burg built by Count Palatine John Casimir about 1570 was much altered in 1935; it contains the fine Casimir Hall.
In Museumsplatz, in the north of Kaiserslautern, is the Landesgewerbeanstalt (Craft Institute), with the Pfalzgalerie (19th and 20th C. art).
The Pfalz, formerly the Rheinpfalz, is known in English as the Palatinate. Over the years its reputation has been that of a region with few superior-quality estates.